Because good research needs good data

DMPonline charging for administrative users

Kevin Ashley | 19 October 2018

In November 2016, I wrote about how changes in our income streams meant that we would be introducing charges for more of our services over the coming years. In August, I wrote to UK university DMPonline admin users to inform them that we would be taking action on this from November 2018. In this news item I set out further detail on how this model will apply to organisational users around the world and also to give some reassurances. In particular, we wish to make clear:

  • DMPonline will remain free at the point of use for researchers to develop, share, publish and maintain data management plans, regardless of whether their institution or funder has a subscription
  • UK funder templates, and H2020 and some other international templates, will continue to be maintained in the free, public service

We have no plans to change this model at any time in the future. The charges we have introduced are for additional services that organisations receive via the DMPonline admin interface.  At present this can include customised templates, entirely new templates for funders with organisational subscriptions, statistics, the ability to review DMPs from your researchers, customised logos, branding and URLs for the service. Some subscribers are also working on integration with other elements of their research administration systems via APIs and machine-actionable features.

We have had paying subscribers from outside the UK for over 3 years. Some are individual universities, some national consortia; we're also finalising agreements with some national funders. We are grateful to those who showed this early commitment and glad that they have continued to subscribe. Our early contracts were negotiated on a case-by-case basis for service levels and features with pricing that was also highly customised. Some of the features required by these early customers are now benefiting all users of DMPonline and indeed the DMPRoadmap code base.

We're now moving to a standardised service model, initially with two service levels, and a standardised set of price bands to match. The price bands range from £600/year for the basic service at the smallest organisations to £13,000/year for the full service for large organisations with additional support needs. For UK users, this scaling is currently done by Jisc banding. There are also standard scales for some common additional services such as extra training and site-specific features. Consortial deals and local integration with other services are priced by negotiation.  We have a standard contract in place which includes an SLA and GDPR-compliant processor statement, and a range of different packages depending on the services and level of support required.

What happens next?

We've written to UK admins to say that charging will apply from November 2018. We are in the process of contacting overseas admins who do not already have subscriptions to set out timescales for charging transitions during the coming 9 months. Our contact details for both sets of admin users are not 100% accurate - roles and email addresses do sometimes change - and we know that some organisations may not yet have heard from us. If you are concerned that yours is amongst those, do contact us using the details at the end of this blog post. 75% of the replies we received have been positive, either taking up subscriptions for this year or seeking statistics to help make an internal case for purchase. Some wish to purchase but are unable to re-allocate budgets in this financial year to do so and we are working with these to make arrangements that are fair to all. We recognise that the timing of our announcement was not ideal and that, although we consulted with many parties for over a year preceding this change, many felt uninformed about the process. I apologise for these shortcomings.

There are a significant number of organisations from which we have had no response to our mailout. We will be contacting them again in the coming weeks to determine their intentions. If we do not hear back after several attempts, we will presume that they do not wish to take up a subscription.

For organisations that do not intend to take up a subscription we will be progressively withdrawing administrative access features over the coming months. You will receive advance warning of each of these events. Template editing access, custom branding, DMP review capability and access to APIs and statistics are amongst the features that will be progressively withdrawn. Custom guidance and templates will never be lost, but will become inaccessible to you and your users once admin access is withdrawn; they are reactivated once a subscription is taken up. Your researchers will still be able to create new plans and work with existing plans, but without access to any site-specific guidance or support you have placed in the tool. The timelines for this withdrawal will be different for different groups of admin users, but you will be kept informed of the one that applies to you.

Those with subscriptions, or who are in negotiation with us about them, will continue to receive the full level of service as well as the new features becoming available as we deploy new releases of the common DMPRoadmap code along with DMPonline-specific enhancements.

You can learn more about recent service features and our future plans by joining us in a DMPonline webinar on October 26th 2018, as part of Open Access Week.

Further ahead

We will be re-examining the basis for price banding in the current year in consultation with subscribers and other interested parties. We chose the Jisc bands for UK subscribers because it is a familiar tool; we compared it with alternatives based on total research income and numbers of active researchers and both produced very similar results, but there are anomalies for a few organisations. We welcome suggestions for credible alternatives that are fair to all and do not provide disincentives for use.

We will no longer issue new admin accounts to those without a subscription or with no plans to take one out. Trial admin accounts for a limited period will continue to be available to those wishing to explore the service before committing to purchase.

Our subscribers will be able to work with us to identify priorities for new service developments in the years ahead and we will be giving their needs and helpdesk tickets priority. We'll continue to add features to order for those who wish to enter into contracts for these.

We're talking to more funders and providers of RIM systems in order to be able to provide more points of integration between their services and DMPonline. Much of these will be made possible through the development of standard forms for expressing machine-actionable DMPs - work which we initiated along with our colleagues from UC3 in the DMPRoadmap project -  which is being taken forward in a number of Research Data Alliance interest and working groups, specifically the WG on DMP Common Standards, the WG on Exposing DMPs and the umbrella Active DMPs Interest Group.

DMPRoadmap, the code base behind DMPonline, will continue to be an open-source project with contributions from many actors. Our charges relate to the custom content (such as funder templates, single sign-on integration and customisation) which we add, and the significant support infrastructure necessary to run a production-level international service based on that open-source model.

DMPonline currently has just short of 30,000 users from 89 countries around the world, and users from almost all UK research-active universities. We're expecting those numbers to grow even further in the years ahead. If you’re interested in subscribing to the standard service packages,  finding out more about custom packages, or have comments or questions not answered above, please contact us on