Guidelines for Data Management Plan from SNSF : learning from each other

DID YOU KNOW? The SNSF supports Europe's Plan SOpen access to publications, 04/Sep/2018.

European and national research funders are expected to commit all researchers to granting open access to their publications as of 2020. The SNSF supports this "Plan S", which was published in Brussels in September 2018...

In 2017, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) released and shared guidelines telling researchers what they need to know in order to go into the data management plans (DMPs) of applications for SNSF project funding. The principle of open research data supported by the SNSF is the following: research data and research findings funded by public money should be freely accessible to all. 

“A data management plan or DMP is a formal document that outlines how you will handle your data both during your research, and after the project is completed. The goal of a data management plan is to consider the many aspects of data management, metadata generation, data preservation, and analysis before the project begins, this ensures that data are well-managed in the present, and prepared for preservation in the future”, - LEARN project.

DMP: from draft to the definitive version 

DMPs are an important step towards Open Research Data. A number of initiatives around the globe are striving to make science and, in particular, research data accessible to all.  The SNSF agrees with the underlying principles of these initiatives”, -  Open Research Data: data management plans will be introduced in project funding, SNSF.

Applicants must enter a DMP that is understandable, suits their project and meets the standards set by their research community. At this stage, the DMP is considered a draft and excluded from the evaluation process. If the SNSF approves the application, the grant holders will be able to adapt, improve or enhance their DMP for as long as the project lasts. The definitive DMP must be provided by the end of the project at the latest.

Further information on compiling a DMP can be found in the guidelines for researchers on the SNSF website. The guidelines include all the questions that researchers should be aware of when drafting their DMP. In addition, the website provides examples of DMPs as well as links to different repositories.

From Data Management Plan (DMP) - Guidelines for researchers, SNSF:

Data sharing – best practices: 

To facilitate the discovery, access, re-use and citation of datasets, it is important that the publication of research data follows a set of clearly defined and broadly applicable best practices. The FAIR Data Principles define a range of qualities a published dataset should have in order to be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (see: Explanation of the FAIR Data Principles). … It is important to note that the FAIR Data Principles do not require researchers to share all their data without any restrictions. Rather they advocate applying a standard procedure when sharing research data for reuse, so that humans and computer systems can easily find, interpret and use them under clearly defined conditions. The FAIR Data Principles are being adopted by a growing number of research funding organisations (e.g. Horizon 2020NIH).

The SNSF sees the period between submission of the DMP with the project proposal and the upload of research data to digital databases as a learning curve for both sides, the researchers and the SNSF.

DMPs are meant to encourage researchers to reflect on the lifecycle of their data before starting out on their project. If the data have already been published, they should be made available in non-commercial, digital databases along with the metadata. The data format should be such that all interested persons can locate, access and reuse the data, provided there are no legal, ethical or intellectual property constraints. The SNSF will contribute around 10,000 Swiss francs to cover the costs of preparing data for their upload and of the upload itself.


“Open research data refers to the data underpinning scientific research results that have no restrictions on their access, enabling anyone to access them through the internet”, - Open Science Monitor, European Commission

In view of the vital need for information on open research data, the SNSF has put together a set of links on national and international developments as well as a catalogue of frequently asked questions about open research data. The information (SNSF policy on Open Research Data, Guidelines and Regulations, FAIR Data Principles for Research Data Management, Initiatives and Strategies, Additional information, News) and FAQs are regularly updated.

In addition, the SNSF supports workshops on open research data. Research communities wishing to discuss best practices for DMPs, data formats or the suitability of repositories can submit an application for a workshop grant under the new scheme for Scientific Exchanges


Related content: