A common set of themes for DMPs: seeking input

28 September, 2016

When the DCC revised DMPonline in 2013, we introduced the concept of themes to the tool. The themes represent the most common topics addressed in Data Management Plans (DMPs) and work like tags to associate questions and guidance. Questions within DMP templates can be tagged with one or more themes, and guidance can be written by theme to allow organisations to apply their advice over multiple templates at once. This means organisations don’t have to worry about monitoring changes in requirements and updating their guidelines each time a new template is released.

Institutional guidance on ‘Storage and Backup,’ overlaid onto a funder template


Institutional guidance on ‘Storage and Backup,’ overlaid onto a funder template

Moving forward, we see potential for broader application of the themes. In collaboration with the DMPTool, we plan to use a refined set of themes to support our objectives around machine-actionable DMPs. The themes provide the beginnings of a common vocabulary and structure for DMPs and could help to identify sections of text to mine, e.g., to identify a repository named in a DMP and the volume of data in the pipeline.

Stephanie and I have revised the existing set of Data Management Planning themes  and propose a shortened set of 17 themes. We merged several closely related themes, e.g., ‘Metadata’ and ‘Documentation.’ Now we’re keen to collect your feedback about whether the themes still cover all the required elements and if they make sense to users. The goal is to find a suitable balance between the total number of themes (for mining and for usability considerations when creating guidance) and granularity.

Specific questions we have are:

  • Whether ‘Existing data’ should be a separate category? We’ve merged it with the general ‘Data description’ on the rationale that reusing data doesn’t apply in all domains.
  • Should the ‘Data repository’ theme be merged with ‘Preservation’ or is it better kept separate since repositories cover preservation and sharing?
  • Several themes address data sharing: one is generic (‘Data sharing’), one addresses the ‘Timeframe for sharing’ and one covers ‘Restricted-use data.’ Is this granularity needed or should some of these themes be merged e.g. ‘Data sharing’ and ‘Restricted-use data.’

We’re reaching out to various groups on this: the Force 11 FAIR DMP group, the RDA Active DMPs group, CASRAI  UK DMP working group and the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Active Data Management Plans working group. Naturally we’re also consulting the DMPonline and DMPTool user groups and are keen to receive feedback from any other quarters too so please pass this notice on to colleagues! Comments can be left on the blog here or emailed to DMPONLINE-USER-GROUP@jiscmail.ac.uk 

The original and revised sets of themes are below for reference: