Data Management Plan – FAQ

Friday, 6 March 2020

In what follows, the NCN answers some of the frequently asked questions regarding possible modifications to the Data Management Plan and its assessment criteria.

  1. Who will evaluate data management plans and how?

In accordance with the terms & conditions of proposal review, e.g., Data Management Plans are subject to descriptive evaluation; they are assessed separately and do not fall under the feasibility assessment under criterion C. The question is formulated thus: Has the data management plan been planned properly: yes, no or not applicable? If  the answer is no, the expert needs to provide a justification.

  1.  Will the assessment of the Data Management Plan differ between calls or will it be a fixed element of the feasibility assessment, as indicated here:

Questions do not differ between calls and for the time being there are no plans to create a separate Plan for each given discipline (NZ, HS, ST). The correctness of the Plan is not an assessment criterion under section C.

  1. Can the Data Management Plan be modified? Do changes to the plan need to be reported and if so, how and when?

It is recommended that the Data Management Plan should be updated during the project, but there is no need to notify the NCN of the changes. The final report should outline the actual data management situation as of the end date of the project; it is understood that it may be different than originally planned.

  1. Will the second DMP analysis at the end of the project have an impact on its settlement?

Yes, in accordance with the adopted terms & conditions, the Data Management Plan will be evaluated at the final reporting stage. If the plan is incomplete, it will be sent back to be completed/corrected. In theory, in accordance with the provisions of the grant agreement, if the final report is incomplete, sanctions may be imposed.

  1. Can I consult changes to the DMP with the NCN on an ongoing basis?

Just like the Merit-based Report, the Data Management Plan included in the final report is not consulted with the NCN as it forms a part of the project subject to merit-based expert review.

  1. How will the NCN verify compliance with the plan?

Throughout the duration of the project, the Data Management Plan will undergo the same changes as the Research Plan since it is directly linked to the latter. This means it will be subject to merit-based review by experts at the final reporting stage; the plan outlined in the proposal will be compared with actions actually undertaken to carry it out. If content-related changes to the project are justified, so will be the changes in e.g. data format or size. What matters for the NCN is whether the data are properly archived in accordance with FAIR principles (manual or automated access must be ensured) and whether or not they will be made public, and if so, under what conditions.

  1. Are any changes in this respect to be expected, e.g. will more space be provided on the form?

Yes, the character limit in some editable fields will be increased as of the March edition of the calls.

  1. The letter of 3 April 2019 by the NCN Director mentions a "shortened Data Management Plan" – should a full plan also be drafted?

Only a shortened version is available in the proposal form. The NCN does not expect to receive very detailed plans, which is why the initial character limit was set at 400. Upon the request of applicants, it has already been doubled. The NCN does not require another version of the plan. If it did, the requirement would be mentioned in the terms & conditions of the call or the grant agreement.

  1. The guidelines include a provision stating that data should be made public as soon as possible – will the requirement be made more specific in the planned open-access policy?

In particular, the issue at play is which data should be made public, to what extent and under what conditions? Are any licences recommended or preferred? Can data be made available in a limited way only to other researchers or based on licences that restrict the right to reuse the data, without an additional justification for such solutions?

The choice of data to be made public is up to the individual researcher. It seems clear that open access should be ensured to those that provide the very basis for published results so that other researchers are able to verify them. The data should be made available at the same time that the results are published. Other than that, it is up to the researcher to decide to what extent the data should be shared, based on formal and legal constraints or other circumstances indicated in the justification.

  1. Is the NCN planning to modify the Guidelines to make the terminology more precise, in particular as concerns legal and technical matters and the required data storage period?

Some changes will be introduced to the Guidelines in the upcoming edition of our calls (16 March this year). The recommended data storage period (10 years) is directly derived from the Code of Research Integrity and the provisions of the grant agreement, which provides for a possibility of audits in the host institution for up to 5 years after the end of the project. It is up to the subjective assessment of the researcher to decide how long the data will retain their scientific value.