The national funding programme ICT of the Future 2020 of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) and the FFG is looking for sustainable and innovative R&D cooperation projects in various priority areas. The submission of a Data Management Plan (DMP) is mandatory for some priority areas. The workshops Deep Dive into Data, which DIO held for applicants on 27 January and 22 February 2021, provided extensive support for the preparation of a DMP. Both workshops were characterised by a lot of information and exciting discussions.

DMPOnline and Best-Practices of a DMP

After welcoming words from Lisbeth Mosnik (BMK), Ana Almansa (FFG) presented the ICT of the Future Call 2020. As DIO Data Stewart, Axel Quitt supports the development of data management plans. By way of introduction, he gave an overview of the DMPonline tool and emphasised that a DMP is a tool and by no means an additional burden. It is a guide that accompanies the submission process.

Best practices, advantages and pitfalls

Data management plans are useful elements that guide a research project in a structured way. They can clarify important questions and areas of tension right at the beginning, which can be particularly advantageous in legal and economic areas.

Certain areas, such as Documentation/Data Quality and Legal/Ethical, can prove to be pitfalls when creating a DMP, as uncertainties often arise here. For example, too little attention is often paid to meta-data. On a legal/ethical level, there are also often uncertainties regarding the rights of use or the (further) use of the collected data. Here, DMP templates offer a suitable collection of questions to address these issues.

Experience with data management plans

Within the panel disussions the participants talked about experiences in working with DMP or similar constructs. They agreed that data management plans can be very helpful and useful, especially in the area of data handling, clustering and sifting. The panel also attributed great (and growing) importance to meta-data descriptions. If one wants to use the data in the best possible way and at best also in the long term, then clear definitions and descriptions must be available – even if this step is often very labour-intensive.

Law and ethics

The discussants pleaded for clear regulations – not only on a general legal level, but also within the company. Another topic was the motivation to share data. Data owners often lack knowledge about what happens with their data. Transparency would help here. These aspects can also be made clearer with the help of a DMP. For example, at the beginning of the project it should be recorded which accesses are (can be) granted, at what regular intervals data is published, which risks arise and how these can be minimised.