Helping undergraduate students manage their research data – data management plan template now available
Research data is key even in undergraduate students' research process. One of the prerequisites for the reliability of academic research is that it is carried out following good scientific practices. A research data management plan is a great tool to ensure this goal is reached. Turku University Library has recently created a template for data management plans tailored specifically to students' needs, with which they can plan the management of their data throughout the thesis process.
Creating a plan to manage your research data
There have long been ready-made tools and models to plan the management of your data from how to structure the life-cycle of research data into different steps, and each of those steps into the various data management sub-steps. These can for example be getting the required research permits, storing the data during the research, and describing the life-cycle of the data concisely after the research has ended.
For a few years now, researchers from Finnish research organisations have been using data management plan (DMP) templates available in DMPTuuli and related organisational and funder-specific guidelines. Researchers are starting to get used to writing data management plans, but what about undergraduate students? Research data management is equally important in a regular university student's research process, which is why it would be good to include a DMP as part of the research plan.
This autumn, Turku University Library's open science specialists have created a template to help students manage their research data. Together with the Research Data Management Guide for Students that the library has produced earlier, this new document provides practical help with data management and guides students to find answers to questions that sometimes may seem challenging. The Research Data Management Plan for Students covers the entire life-cycle of data and guides students to think about all the steps needed to process the data, starting from collecting the data all the way until the research is done.
Benefits of having a data management plan template designed specifically for undergraduate students
We asked Niina Nummela, professor of international business at the university, why they feel a planning tool is important, and as a thesis supervisor why they encourage undergraduate students also to write a data management plan. According to Niina Nummela, a DMP is an important tool for several reasons: with the plan, the student gets a clear picture of what data management is and understands what it means in terms of their own thesis work. A well-structured DMP template with instructions and examples guides the students to describe research data management cohesively in all theses completed at the university. It also reduces the probability of cases where a student fails to create a plan only because either the supervisor or student has not yet fully understood the plan's significance in research.
Niina Nummela is certain a ready-made DMP template is an important addition to the quality assurance of undergraduate theses – with the template, it is easier for students to follow the instructions.
Access the Research Data Management Plan for Students in Zenodo. (In English and Finnish)