UMBS Data Management Plan Template


The University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) strives to provide researchers with the tools needed to be successful in their research and educational endeavors.  This document describes the UMBS Information Management System developed for use by researchers to meet funding agency-mandated data management requirements.  This document is written specifically to address NSF data management mandates ( ) but should be useful for complying with requirements outlined by other funding agencies.  Researchers are encouraged to use and adapt the text below when generating data management plans for their research proposals.  

Disclaimer:  It is widely known that federal funding agencies use anti-plagiarism software during the proposal review process.  Verbatim use of the provided text is allowed by the UMBS but may be flagged by a funding agency during the proposal review process.  We highly recommend citing the web-based version of this document, which can be found via

Data Management Plan Template:

1.Types of data, samples, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project.

This is highly project dependent.  Feel free to contact Jason Tallant, UMBS Information Manager, to discuss your project specifically at  Additionally, it is recommended you address the following question in this portion: What are the rights and obligations of all parties with respect to their roles in and  responsibilities for the management and retention of research data (including contingency plans  for the departure of key personnel from the project)?

2.Standards to be used for data and metadata format and content.

The specificity of metadata documentation and quality control level of data are such that third parties unfamiliar with the products are able to engage with the data for scientific purposes.

Tabular Data:
All non-spatial, tabular data are archived in ASCII encoded, nonpropreitary file formats such as comma separated value (i.e., .csv) files.  Best practices such as the addition of descriptive file headers and separation of data obtained at different scales into different files are followed (Cook et al 2001, Borer et al 2009).

Metadata are available in two formats, a human-friendly layout as a webpage and as an XML file that is compliant with the Ecological Metadata Language specification (V 2.1.0;  Throughout the metadata and data contribution process the UMBS Information Manager works with researchers to ensure that best practices (sensu Cook et al 2001) are employed.

Spatial data:
Spatial data such as vector data (i.e., polygon and polyline data) and raster data (i.e., satellite imagery) are stored in industry standard formats such as shapefiles and img files, respectively.  To facilitate distribution, spatial data files are packaged and compressed as .zip files.

Metadata for spatial data are generated using the toolset packaged with ArcGIS (ESRI 2011).  Metadata produced are consistent with the Federal Geographic Data Committee's (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM;

Sensitive data:
In the event that metadata or data contain sensitive information (e.g., personal protected information, endangered species locations, copyrighted materials) these information are not released.  Where possible, sensitive information are stripped from the data set to create versions that are suitable for public consumption.  At minimum, sufficient metadata to enable discovery of the data set with instructions to contact the data originator to request copies of the full data set are made available.  Examples of the removal of sensitive information include de-identification, anonymization and/or removal of location information.

3.Methods and policies for providing access and enabling sharing.

The UMBS Research Gateway (, a web-based information management system, is used for providing long-term, public access to the data sets.  The Research Gateway, built and maintained by the UMBS Information Manager, provides a user-friendly interface for querying metadata and downloading data sets.  Data sets are stored in a rich context that includes direct links to related research projects, publications, personnel and sites from the UMBS research site gazetteer.  Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are employed to facilitate data discovery via search engines such as Google and Bing.  Finally, where desired for sensitive and/or unpublished data sets, user-specific access control and access logging is available.  

Policies provided by the University of Michigan Biological Station's Information Management System are used to guide metadata and data sharing.  Per the UMBS Data Management Policy (DMP, all datasets developed using UMBS property are deposited with the Station within a year of completion of the data set (generally understood to be the end of data collection.)  After submission the metadata are immediately made publicly available while the data are released within five years of the submission date.  Prior to the end of the 5-year term, interested parties must contact the data originator for permission to receive a copy of the data file(s).  

4.Provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives.

The UMBS DMP includes a Data Use Agreement (DUA; that stipulates the terms under which third parties may use data provided by UMBS and its researchers.  Briefly, the DUA sets forth requirements for appropriate attribution of the data originator, bars the re-distribution of data sets beyond the immediate sphere of collaboration, bars the use of data sets for profit generating purposes and stipulates that products generated from the data sets must also be made publicly available in a timely fashion.  

5.Methods for archiving and preserving access to data and materials.

Methods for archiving:
The UMBS Research Gateway provides a graphical user-interface for metadata entry and data upload.  Features of this system include a user login system, version control system, and an established workflow process for publishing or unpublishing data sets.  Data contributors work closely with the UMBS Information Manager to ensure metadata completion and quality assurance of data files.  

Preserving data access:
The Research Gateway, the central tool of the University of Michigan Biological Station's Information Management System (UMBS IMS), is built and maintained by the UMBS Information Manager.  The UMBS IMS is a permanent effort by UMBS to ensure affiliated researchers can meet data management requirements and to provide future generations of researchers with a rich context for new research at the Station.  The Research Gateway is hosted on a database and web server maintained by the University of Michigan's primary IT provider (Information and Technology Services, ITS;  The long-term commitment from UMBS combined with the professional services of ITS will ensure that access to contributed data sets is preserved for the foreseeable future (>20 years).


Elizabeth T. Borer, Eric W. Seabloom, Matthew B. Jones, Mark Schildhauer. 2009. Some Simple Guidelines for Effective Data Management. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 90(2) 205-214.

Robert B. Cook, Richard J. Olson, Paul Kanciruk, Leslie A. Hook. 2001. Best Practices for Preparing Ecological Data Sets to Share and Archive. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 82(2) 138-141.

ESRI 2011. ArcGIS Desktop. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute.

Additional Resources:

This document is modified from the Data Management Plan template provided by the University of Michigan LSA Joint IT-Research Committee ( please find additional resources therein.

Individual NSF Directorates have published specific guidelines for researchers.  It is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the pertinent guidelines as they may include restrictions beyond that of the UMBS Data Management Policy:

Authorship Information:

Jason Tallant, Information Manager
University of Michigan Biological Station, (734) 615-5005
Last Modified: May 10, 2013