Because good research needs good data

Towards better efficiency – integrating data management plans with institutional systems

DMPonline team: Ray Carrick, Magdalena Drafiova, Patricia Herterich, Marta Nicholson TU Delft team: Gert de Boom, Arie Braat, Alastair Dunning, Irene Haslinger, Kees den Heijer, Masha Rudneva (project lead), Mark Schenk, Madeleine de Smaele, Marta Teperek | 24 February 2021


Image by ar130405 from Pixabay

Why integrating data management plans?

Funders require grant-winning researchers to write Data Management Plans (DMPs) to facilitate good data management practices. Moreover, the requirements imposed by the European Guidelines on Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean that research institutions increasingly require researchers to produce DMPs to support safe handling of personal data. Some institutions also have internal workflows of privacy assessment or ethics approval where data management activities are often taken into account.

Thus, DMPs already contain rich information about research projects - data collection and processing, anticipated storage needs etc. Unfortunately, this information is not effectively re-used. As a result, researchers have to provide the same information about their research projects and data numerous times to various service providers, even within the same research institutions.

Aim of this project

We would like to become more efficient with regards to re-using existing information. Most Dutch research institutions, including TU Delft, use a tool called DMPonline to assist researchers in creating DMPs. DMPonline has a full-content API, which allows extraction of structured text from DMPs. This creates the possibility of re-using the information entered by researchers in DMPs in other systems. The aim of this project is exactly this: to enable the extraction of structured information directly from DMPs and to make this information re-usable to other services.

Specifically, we want to:

  • Further integrate SURFconext, the Dutch single sign-on solution, with DMPonline
  • Integrate with TU Delft registry of personal research data
  • Integrate with TU Delft’s storage request system
  • Create an institutional dashboard with DMP statistics

Integration between DMPonline and SURFconext

DMPonline is already connected to SURFconext for authentication purposes, but we would also like to be able to pass on some basic information about researchers (such as their faculty and departmental affiliation, as well as whether they are staff or students) to DMPonline. Having this information in DMPonline will provide numerous benefits:

  • Researchers will be able to get timely and dedicated support of their faculty data steward
  • Faculties and departments will get better insight into data management practices and needs of their researchers, which can enable delivery of customised support
  • TU Delft can get a better understanding of data management needs of their students

Integration with TU Delft registry of personal research data

Due to the GDPR requirements, TU Delft needs to maintain a registry of personal research data processing. Information about processing of research data is already collected in DMPs. However, TU Delft’s registry for personal research data is currently not automatically retrieving information from DMPs. Any additions to the registry have to be done manually, which means that the same information which was already provided in the DMP, needs to be re-entered in the registry. We would like to increase the efficiency of the process by automatically extracting relevant information from DMPs and adding it to the TU Delft registry of personal data processing.

Integration with TU Delft storage request system

TU Delft, similar to many other research institutions, provides researchers with network drives to store research data. To request storage, researchers are asked to complete a form asking for details about who they are and also about their research project. However, this information is already available in DMPs. Therefore, as part of this project we would like to integrate DMPs with TU Delft’s storage request system. In that way, if a researcher indicates in the DMP that they would like to store their research data on a TU Delft network drive; this request, together with important information about that research project (the type of data, the volume of data, project duration), could automatically create a request for storage with TU Delft’s ICT support. As a result, researchers will see immediate benefits of starting their projects with a DMP (e.g., storage provided and less forms to fill in). In addition, TU Delft ICT will receive richer information about research projects and the data stored on network drives, which will help with data governance and maintenance of ICT infrastructure.

Create a dashboard with DMP statistics

Finally, we would also like to create a dashboard with DMP statistics, which could provide basic information such as:

  • Number of DMPs created by faculty, department, staff and students in a given time period - this would help us monitor the uptake of our data policies
  • Overview of tools and storage options used by researchers - this would help us understand the needs for tooling and storage among our research community
  • Projections for data storage needs at TU Delft - this would provide our ICT department with important insights about the forecasted storage needs
  • Projections for the use of 4TU.ResearchData - this would help 4TU.ResearchData repository managers understand the future demands for long-term data preservation and sharing
  • Number of DMPs for projects working with confidential datasets (and the types of confidential data researchers work with) - this would help TU Delft get better insight into security matters and needs across the campus.

How to get involved?

We can easily imagine that TU Delft is not the only institution who would be interested in better re-using information in data management plans. Therefore, we would like as many of you as possible to benefit from this endeavour.

Our plans for sharing the results with the community are:

  • SURFconext integration changes will be available to all Dutch institutions using DMPonline and SURFconext to authenticate - they will all automatically benefit.
  • The API scripts will be made public on GitHub

This work will be also communicated via:

  1. Blog posts
  2. The Dutch ( and the international ( data management mailing lists
  3. DMPonline community sessions and newsletter
  4. Research Data Alliance Active Data Management Plans Interest Group

We will organise two webinars where anyone interested in knowing more about this work will be able to join and ask questions:

  1. Mid-through the project (June/July 2021)
  2. End of the project (December 2021)

Would you like to stay up to date?

If you would like to be posted about our work (receive announcement about the blog post and events), please inform the project leader (Masha Rudneva, and you will be added to our distribution list.