DMPonline at the University of Sussex by Adam Harwood

Magdalena Drafiova | 27 April 2020

The University of Sussex Library has been providing support for researchers on managing their research data for some time now and DMPonline has been one of the easiest quick wins to offer them when they are writing their DMPs.   Reactions on first seeing it range from surprise to relief that there is a tool that distils the often complicated data management plan requirements from the different funders in to manageable sections with guidance on how to answer each one.  If there is one thing that researchers take away from a training session, it’s DMPonline.

Whilst we were initially disappointed that the DCC decided to go to a subscription model for DMP online and start charging, we understood the reasons why and were pleased to see that the DCC were investing in the product for the long term.  If anything, this change in funding model made us analyse our use of the product and allowed us to see how we could develop our processes in the future using all the additional features that a subscription now brings. 

In the early years of DMPonline, it was impossible for us to know how much the tool was being used and how successful we had been in enticing our researchers to use it.  We figured we would go on recommending it anyway based on the positive reactions we got from researchers in our training sessions.  Now we have access to those statistics, we were pleasantly surprised that our usage was very comparable to that of similar institutions.  With a more active advocacy plan and integrating DMPonline into our grant review process the tool has a potential to become an important resource for Sussex researchers.

As well as using DMPonline in our general RDM training sessions, we have also provided short 1 hour sessions for research faculty specifically on DMPonline.  We found we got a good turnout in a shorter session with a particular focus where we could also then introduce more general RDM concepts applicable to the attendees.

We’ve added our own institution specific guidance to DMPonline and we’ve also started recommending researchers look at the published DMPs.  This has been really helpful to researchers to get a feel for how a plan should be written, especially those who haven’t had to do it before. We’d like to add a custom template for our doctoral researchers, and in time add a custom template for each school to cover discipline specific data in more detail.  We’d also like to start reviewing plans on DMPonline using the new request feedback feature rather than asking researchers to download a pdf and emailing it to us.  There is however a bit of a gap to what we’d like to achieve and the resources that we have to achieve it, so it is a case of taking small steps to ensure we don’t find ourselves swimming in data management plans!

We hope to work with the DCC in the future to continue to improve the tool.  I’m pleased to see the DCC working hard to engage the user community since the subscription model came in.  I look forward to joining the user group in London in September and reading the monthly newsletter is a really convenient way of staying in touch with latest developments.

We would like to say thank you to Adam Harwood for sharing this blog post with us. If you would like to get involved in our knowledge exchange and share a story from your institution please do get in touch with us.