DMPs: Current thinking, future directions

Kathryn Unsworth1, Natasha Simons2

1Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Melbourne, Australia,

2Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Brisbane, Australia,



  • This is a half-day workshop
  • The workshop will be presented by Kathryn Unsworth, Natasha Simons, members of the Australian/New Zealand DMP Interest Group
  • The workshop will include a number of group-based activities and small group discussions (no requirement for laptops)
  • The number of attendees will be constrained only by the venue’s capacity



Data Management Plans (DMPs) are a “hot topic” of discussion internationally and in Australasia. This is because significant technical and human efforts have been, and are continuing to be, directed towards the development and use of DMPs for research. But do they help or hinder the research process? What are alternative approaches? If DMPs continue to be used, how can they be developed to be more useful to researchers and their institutions? This workshop will put a spotlight on these questions, enabling a discussion forum and a showcase for new DMP tools and approaches. It will feature a guest speaker from the international Research Data Alliance Active DMPs Interest Group and speakers from institutions across Australia and New Zealand. The work of the Australasian DMP Interest Group, which formed in early 2017, will be highlighted.


Funder mandated Data Management Plans (DMPs) have been a recognised part of the research data management landscape in the UK and USA for almost a decade, with less formal and more research-centric examples evident since the 1960s and 1970s. Contemporary DMPs have evolved slowly in contrast to the rapid increases in complexity of research as experienced through high data volumes, new data types, innovative research methodologies and high throughput compute, in addition to the issues associated with research reproducibility. Consequently, government imperatives around improving investment returns from research through better managed and shared data has recently shone a spotlight on current DMPs and their efficacy.

In Australia and New Zealand, there are different drivers. DMP tools are widely used in Australian research institutions and a growing number in New Zealand, despite the absence of a compliance stick. This provides institutional administrators, research communities, and researchers themselves the space to assess the value (or not) of DMPs as experienced by local and international communities.

Discussions are now underway, focusing energies on developing DMPs that are more interactive, updatable, interoperable and accessible – actionable by both humans and machines. Common standards for DMPs are being explored, along with funder expectations, domain specificity and much more. Australian and New Zealand research and research support communities have a real opportunity to contribute to and help shape these discussions by providing our own perspectives, approaches and challenges. To facilitate local discussions and connections with those happening internationally, ANDS has formed a DMP Interest Group (DMP IG) that has attracted widespread interest from representatives from institutions in Australia and New Zealand.

To better explore the issues, we propose a workshop format that includes group-based activities, discussions, speakers drawn locally from Australia and New Zealand, and with the potential for international representatives from the Active DMP IG (Research Data Alliance) to contribute to the workshop agenda as well as present on international perspectives and approaches.


At this workshop, participants will:

  • Explore the concept of DMPs and discuss whether they are helping or hindering research
  • Learn about international approaches to DMPs, in particular the “white paper” on machine actionable DMPs and the dynamic work of the Research Data Alliance Active DMPs Interest Group
  • Engage with a range of new DMP tools and approaches being implemented by institutions in Australia and New Zealand
  • Participate in a discussion about the work of the Australasian DMP Interest Group and how this group is contributing case studies and ideas to the international DMP discussions


  1. Are DMPs a help or hindrance to researchers?

Can DMPs help researchers move from “What is data management?” and “Why should I care?” to “How can I better manage and share my data?”
45 minutes

  1. International approaches
    Guest speaker from the Research Data Alliance Active DMPs Interest Group (TBC)
    30 minutes
  2. DMP solutions – tools and approaches
  • UQ Data Management Record project
  • RedBox DMP lite tool
  • University of Auckland’s DMP solution
  • University of Melbourne’s DMP Online

45 minutes

  1. Australasian DMP IG discussions
    Role of the Aust/NZ DMP IG and sub-groups
  • Machine actionable DMPs (maDMPs)
  • Exposing/publishing DMPs
  • Researcher-centric data management planning
  • How you can get involved

45 minutes

  1. Wrap up.

15 minutes


The workshop is open to anybody interested in DMPs, DMP tools and their effectiveness. It will be of most interest to librarians and technical staff who manage or implement DMPs within the eResearch Australasia community.


Participants may wish to bring laptops, but they are not a requirement for the workshop.


Kathryn Unsworth is a Data Librarian with the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) based in Melbourne.

Kathryn engages with a number of Australian universities, providing research data management related advice, support and training. Additionally, Kathryn works in partnership with institutions to deliver ANDS-funded projects. She has many RDM-related interests including, DMP implementations and their value in changing researcher behaviours and practices, IP and licensing issues for data, ethics and informed consent, and up-skilling data librarians for transition into data-intensive roles.

Natasha Simons is a Research Data Management Specialist with the Australian National Data Service (ANDS)

Working with a variety of people and groups to improve data management platforms, policies and practices. With a background in libraries, IT and eResearch, she has a history of developing policy, technical infrastructure and staff skills to support research and researchers. She is co-chair of the Research Data Alliance Interest Group on Data Policy Standardisation and Implementation and co-chair of the Australasian Repository Working Group. Natasha is a member of the Australian ORCID Advisory Group and is an ORCID Ambassador. A writer and reviewer of papers related to libraries, persistent identifiers, repositories and research data, Natasha is located at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

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