Data management plans

A data management plan describes how you will collect, organise, analyse, preserve, and share data.

What is ‘research data’?  

All researchers create data in some form and you are likely to generate a significant amount of data during your research degree. Research data can come in many shapes and sizes depending on what type of research you are conducting. The term research data is used broadly and refers to a range of materials that you will use, generate and analyse during your research. Examples include:  

  • Photographs, audio, video recordings and films  
  • Musical performances and sketches in sketchbooks  
  • Models, algorithms and scripts  
  • Numerical data, generated from experiments, recorded in laboratory notebooks  
  • Fieldnotes, questionnaires and interview transcripts  
  • Specimens and samples  

Write and update a data management plan  

A data management plan will help you to identify and describe your data and ensure that you are handling, storing and sharing the data appropriately.   

It is a University requirement that you have a data management plan for your research project by the time you reach transfer and that you review and update the plan as your research progresses.  

The University provides a data management plan template but you can use any format or template which is useful to you. A data management plan helps you to look after your data from the beginning to the end of the research project – and beyond. You should discuss your data management plan with your supervisor. The University’s research data management expectations are outlined in the University of Leeds Research data management policy. Information and advice to help you organise and manage your research data and write your plan is available on the University Library website.  

Assess whether your data is sensitive  

Assess all your material to decide how sensitive it is as this will impact how it must be handled and stored and whether it can be shared. It is important to read the University’s Information protection policy.  All researchers should read the University’s pages on data protection and handling personal and research data. There is helpful information about safeguarding data on the University Library website.  

Store data appropriately  

Make sure you know what University storage is available to you and think about the most appropriate place to store your data and consider whether encryption is needed. Check information from IT Services about keeping data safe, including what to consider when working on a laptop or when generating data outside the University.  

Will you share your data?  

Many research funders encourage data sharing beyond the original project where this is appropriate. You should address data sharing both during and after your research in your data management plan.  

It is important that your consent wording, any participant information, and any agreements with project partners are consistent with how you plan to use the data, including sharing with others. 

Research data and associated materials are often made available to other researchers through deposit in a trusted online data repository. The University’s Research Data Leeds repository can be used to share open research data generated by Leeds researchers. The Library also manages a repository service for controlled access datasets called RADAR which may be appropriate for data that can be shared but has some sensitivity. 

You may wish to share supplementary data associated with your thesis, or share data for a conference presentation, or an exhibition or data that underpins a journal article. Deciding what material to share and how to share it can be complex. If you need advice on sharing material related to your thesis, it is a good idea to seek help sooner rather than later. You can contact the Research Data team in the Library on  

Research data management training  

The Library Research data management website is a useful source of information. The Library Research Data Management team provide a regular training session on “Research data management essentials” and a more detailed course on “Safeguarding confidential, sensitive and restricted data”. See the Library workshops for researchers page for more details.