DMPonline at Utrecht University by Jacques Flores

Magdalena Drafiova | 27 April 2020

DMPonline is a data management planning tool created by the Digital Curation Center (DCC). What follows are the main reasons why we chose to opt for this tool here at Utrecht University.

Incentivize researchers to fill out DMPs by making it simple

Good research data management (RDM) requires ample coordination, organization and premeditation. One of our roles as research support staff is to provide researchers with the tools that will facilitate these actions. By using this tool, researchers will reduce the strain and time spent by researchers in managing their data. DMPonline accomplishes this by bringing together all of the funder and institutional templates under one roof. This makes it easier for researchers to keep track of their different projects and their underlying DMPs, even if they are from different funders or different institutions. The ability to easily request feedback and access tailored guidance also provides researchers with a quick and hassle-free manner to check the quality of their data management practices. Furthermore, they can solve many of the issues that they may encounter whilst filling out their DMP.

A data management solution for data management plans (DMPs)

The benefits of using a centralized hub for DMPs extends towards research support staff themselves. After all, data management isn’t just for researchers. Keeping track of all the DMPs that get sent and properly organizing them takes a lot of time and effort. Being able to access, comment and send feedback on DMPs within a single platform makes one’s job simpler, and also facilitates the delegation of DMP reviews. DMPs are dynamic documents, which means keeping decentralized copies of DMPS serve little purpose, since in principle the documents and information therein can, and likely will, change over time.

Preparing for the DMPs of the future

Currently at Utrecht University only a minority of researchers fill out DMPs. In addition, the vast majority of DMPs which are filled out are not done within DMPonline. This is almost entirely due to a lack of awareness and adoption from the researchers’ side. An issue which we strive to improve in the coming years. Nevertheless, we did not opt for DMPonline because we thought it would immediately increase the number of DMP reviews. We chose this tool because we believe it is a system that can adequately scale to the demands that are to come in the coming years, as more and more researchers begin to use DMPs. Of particular note are funder initiatives such as those of zonMw (The Netherlands Institute for Health Research and Development). They have begun to delegate the approval of DMPs towards institutions and have begun accepting DMP institutional templates instead of their own. Without a system such as DMPonline it would be quite difficult to maintain templates up to date, not to mention keep track of DMPs and review them.

DMPonline is hungry for user feedback

When adopting a new tool, whatsoever it may be, it is often easy to see its’ issues and shortcomings; whereas it is harder to see whether those behind the tool have the will and ability to fix and ameliorate it.  When DMPonline was first presented to us it wasn’t without its faults and bugs. Truth be told some still persist to date, although none of them are game breaking. What has kept us quite enthusiastic however is the DCC’s drive to congregate user feedback so as to improve their systems. As a result we see a lot of potential in DMPonline and we are confident that over the coming years more developments will be made in its range of functionalities. The API of DMPonline is a function we are particularly interested in exploring further, as it may prove to be quite useful in obtaining statistical data from users, or gathering metadata on diverse types of plans within our institutions. Information which can be then used to improve our own RDM services.

We would like to say thank you to Jacques Flores for sharing this blog post with us. If you would like to get involved in our knowledge exchange and share a story from your institution please do get in touch with us.