A data management plan, or DMP (sometimes also called a data sharing plan), is a formal document that outlines what you will do with your data during and after a research project. Most researchers collect data with some form of plan in mind, but it's often inadequately documented and incomplete. Many data management issues can be handled easily or avoided entirely by planning ahead. With the right process and framework it doesn't take too long and can pay off enormously in the long run.
Many funding agencies, especially government funding sources, require a DMP as part of their application processes. Even if you are not seeking funding for your research, documenting a plan for your data is a best practice and will help your data comply with Harvard's policies for responsible data management. If your DMP provides for your data to be openly shared, the data necessary for external replication of your research findings will be available to the research community for the long term.
Information contained in a data management plan describes your plan for addressing many aspects of working with data. A DMP need not be lengthy, but it will typically address many relevant aspects of your data, including but not limited to:
The Dataverse Project, led and developed by Harvard IQSS, has published a Harvard Dataverse sample data management plan (DMP) along with background information that references policies more specific to Harvard.
Harvard Library is a point of contact for Harvard-affiliated researchers University-wide seeking data management support and services. Harvard Library works collaboratively with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, HUIT Information Security, Institute for Quantitative Social Science, FAS Research Administration Services and other offices to provide assistance with data management, curation, sharing and archiving; and to support compliance with HU policies for data retention and security.