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Graduate Research Data Management Course Content: Teaching the Data Management Plan (DMP)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Libraries Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

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Paper Authors


Joseph H. Holles University of Wyoming

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Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering

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Larry Schmidt University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Larry Schmidt is an associate librarian at the University of Wyoming and is the current Head of the Brinkerhoff Geology Library. He holds BS degree’s in Chemistry and Biology, MS Degree in environmental engineering from Montana State University and received an MLS from Emporia State University in 2002. His interests lie in providing undergraduate and graduate students with information, data and science literacy skills that will allow them to succeed in a global economy.

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The need for effective education of graduate students in the area of Research Data Management (RDM) has been demonstrated through the number and types of recently developed courses on this topic. These courses tend to take one of two approaches: 1) a full-term, for-credit standalone course and 2) a workshop/seminar approach. One topic that is common to both approaches is the Data Management Plan (DMP). The DMP typically addresses the following major topics: 1) Data that will be created, 2) Data documentation and organization, 3) Data storage and security, 4) Data management after project completion, and 5) Data accessibility for reuse and sharing. These RDM courses typically include a student assignment or term project to develop a DMP. However, there is some confusion in the literature over exactly what the DMP is and how it is used. For example, one common DMP is a short, high level 1-2 page document prepared by the PI as part of grant request to NSF. In contrast, a second type of DMP is an extensive, multi-page document prepared as part of a research project and intended as a working document to guide the researcher through all aspects of their research data management. These very different types of DMPs then lead to the question: what is the difference in these DMPS, what type of DMP is being taught in the literature courses, and what should be covered in the DMP topic of a RDM course?

A RDM graduate course was developed and co-taught by a librarian and faculty member with an active research program. The course was designed to provide students broad concepts and best practices of RDM and also provide the students a focused application of RDM to active research projects. The course also included assignments on both types of DMPs: an individual assignment to develop a funding agency type DMP using[1] and an end-of-semester team project to develop a project based DMP for an active research project using the Purdue Data Curation Profiles toolkit [2] as a basis. While the DCP is an outsider approach developed by librarians to help researchers develop working DMPs, it also serves as an effective tool for researchers to develop their own working DMP.

The focus of this presentation will be an examination of DMPs and how and what should be taught in a graduate RDM course. Examples of DMPs from literature courses will compared and contrasted. The differences between the two types of DMPs as well as the reasons behind them will be delineated and discussed. Terminology to differentiate the DMPs will be presented. The approaches and outcomes of teaching the two types of DMPs in our course will also be described and compared with the literature. Results and lessons learned from this approach will be discussed.

Holles, J. H., & Schmidt, L. (2018, June), Graduate Research Data Management Course Content: Teaching the Data Management Plan (DMP) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30562

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