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Data management plans

BMC Research Notes encourages the submission of data management plans (DMPs) of prospective or ongoing research projects. A data management plan describes the data management life cycle and can be submitted as part of a research proposal or on its own. BMC believes that publishing DMPs can reduce publication bias and improve the standard of scientific research, open data and reproducibility as they become fully citable open-access articles. DMPs should be submitted as a research note and authors need to make it clear in the title that their submission is a data management plan.

DMPs concerning proposed research may not require peer review if the study was reviewed as part of a successful grant application of a major external and non-commercial funding body. Proof of funding will be required and authors should provide the relevant documentation by email to the editorial office. Manuscripts not previously reviewed by a major external funding body will be peer reviewed. Advice may be sought from the journal’s Editor who will decide on a case by case basis if the manuscript needs to be peer reviewed. Reviewers will assess the appropriateness and adequacy of the DMP and provide specific feedback to authors where necessary. A data management plan is generally not considered if the handling, storage and preservation of a particular dataset has been described in another publication including unpublished manuscripts under consideration.

We recognize that DMPs will vary according to the research project and thus do not specify the exact content and format. Authors are asked to provide appropriate headings to structure their submission. DMPs may be longer than the stated word limit for Research Note articles but authors are encouraged to be concise, specific and clear, and to follow the submission guidelines for the Research Note article type as closely as possible. 

Data management plans typically state the type of data that will be created, how the data is handled during and after the research project, and outline the plans for sharing, curation and preservation. As part of making research data findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable (FAIR), we encourage authors to include information on:

  • Data description (formats, standards, types)
  • Data collection and management including metadata
  • Ethics and intellectual property
  • Access, re-use and data sharing
  • Storage, curation and long-term preservation

The extent to which authors cover these and the level of detail provided should be appropriate to the research.

BMC recognizes that a DMP may need to be updated during the course of a research project. Authors who have published their DMP in BMC Research Notes may publish an update as required which will be linked to the published DMP and for which the APC will be waived.