Data Management Plan (DMP)

Data management is an integral part of sound scientific research.  It covers the description of data and metadata, their storage and long-term preservation, the designation of responsible persons, the handling of highly sensitive data, and the open access to and sharing of research data.

The FWO has made data management a key element of its policy for all support channels provided by the FWO. The FWO expects researchers to pay due attention to this dimension before, during and for at least five years after their research.

This page provides you with background information on data management and explains the procedure to be followed when applying for research funding and later when you receive such funding.

 International context

The European Commission has already started rolling out a DMP policy. A DMP is mandatory for all research projects under the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Other organisations and networks in Europe have also addressed this issue.

At Science Europe, the umbrella organisation of RFOs and RPOs in 27 European countries, of which the FWO is a founding member, a working group is active on Data Sharing and Supporting Infrastructures. The FWO actively participates in this working group, which has recently launched an extended edition of its Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management. Originally released in 2019, and following its successful uptake by many organisations, the extended edition features a brand-new rubric to facilitate the evaluation of data management plans. This new rubric helps analyse whether all required aspects of a DMP have been covered and has been created to ensure the ‘FAIRness’ of data (meaning that data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable). The other elements of the guide, such as the core requirements for DMPs and the criteria for the selection of trustworthy repositories, remain unchanged from the first edition. 

Data sharing is an issue in its own right, which is not inextricably linked to a data management policy. Such a policy does, however, have to consider the issue of data sharing and the modalities of such open access. In this respect, reference can be made to RECODE: Open access to data specific project policy recommendations for open access to research data.

The FWO: DMP regulations and procedure

Data management and those responsible for it

For the FWO, the emphasis is on long-term data preservation and management. The data are targeted to be preserved for a period of at least five years from the end of the research.  The DMP related questions in the application form are related to this central aspect.

Sound data management is required for all research supported by the FWO. It applies to data that are gathered, generated, used and reused during the course of the relevant research. Researchers are expected to describe, in a Data Management Plan (DMP), the type of data that relates to their research and how they intend to preserve it (including all associated essential aspects).

While sound data management is a duty for all researchers receiving FWO funding, the mandatory DMP will be introduced gradually.  Supervisors of projects for fundamental and strategic basic research will be the first who must meet this requirement as from the 2018 application round. The experience thus gained will enable them to better guide junior researchers (predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows) when they too must meet the DMP requirement as from the 2020 application round. 

The questionnaire in the application form

The ‘Data Management Plan’ section of the application form contains the following five questions to be answered by the applicant:

  1. Describe the datatypes (surveys, sequences, manuscripts, objects … ) the research will collect and/or generate and /or (re)use. (use up to 700 characters)
  2. Specify in which way the following provisions are in place in order to preserve the data during and at least 5 years after the end of the research? Motivate your answer. (use up to 700 characters)
    1. Designation of responsible person (If already designated, please fill in his/her name.)
    2. Storage capacity/repository
      • during the research
      • after the research
  3. What’s the reason why you wish to deviate from the principle of preservation of data and of the minimum preservation term of 5 years? (max. 700 characters)
  4. Are there issues concerning research data are indicated in the ethics questionnaire of this application form? Which specific security measures those data require? (use up to 700 characters)
  5. Which other issues related to the data management are relevant to mention? (use up to 700 characters)

These questions and the answers to them are part of the application file to be submitted to the evaluators.  Applicants are not expected at this stage to present a detailed plan of approach, but rather to provide essential but concise information that can later be developed into a DMP.

The evaluation

The evaluation panels and external referees (for programmes with an external peer review) who evaluate the application, will also look into this issue.  The DMP as such is not a criterion for approval or rejection of an application.  Rather, this questionnaire is to be used in the same way as that relating to ethical advice: the panel may make comments or set additional requirements, which the researcher is deemed to comply with, but will not touch upon the scientific merits of the applicant and the actual application.   Furthermore, applicants are given room to describe specific aspects and modalities of the DMP in relation to their type of research. To this extent, there is not always necessarily a "correct" or "wrong" answer, as in some cases there may not even be such an answer.

The development of a DMP

For all FWO-funded research projects starting from January 1 2019 onwards a DMP has to be submitted within 6 months after the official start date of the project. The DMP should not be submitted to FWO but to the research co-ordination office of the host institute; FWO may request the DMP in a random check. Projects already started before January 1, 2019 do not have to submit a DMP, though FWO recommends a DMP nonetheless as an integral part of sound scientific research. In this case the DMP may also be submitted to the research co-ordination office of the host institute. Predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows must meet the DMP requirement as well from the 2020 application round onwards. For cross-institutional projects, the supervisor-spokesperson or the holder of the grant is responsible for ensuring that the DMP for the full project is submitted timely at the main host institution. This DMP does not have to be submitted at the other host institutions.

At the end of the project, the final version of the DMP has to be added to the final report of the project; this should be submitted to FWO by the supervisor-spokesperson through FWO’s e-portal. This DMP may of course have been updated since its first version. The DMP is an element in the final evaluation of the project by the relevant expert panel.

There is a default template for the DMP which is used by all host institutes. The DMP for FWO should be made using this template. The final version of the DMP can be created in the online planning tool and exported through this tool as a PDF for inclusion in the final report of the project.


If the main host institution does not use these online planning tools, the final version of the DMP can also be created using this Word-template.

The contact details of the main host institutions for DMP related questions and guidance are as follows:

In all cases, the principle is that the supervisor of a project, and from the 2020 application round onwards also the holder of a fellowship, remains accountable at all times for the data management of their respective project or fellowship.

Data Management Plan (DMP) for ERA-NET projects

A data management plan (DMP) must be provided that at least relates to the research project financed by the FWO within the framework of the relevant European network. The DMP document of that network can suffice for this.

Within six months after the official start of the project, the supervisor-spokesperson of the FWO project must at least deposit the DMP with regard to their own project, but if desired the DMP of the entire consortium of which the FWO project is part, to its Flemish main host institution, or provide a link to this document. If not otherwise possible they can indicate that a DMP, at project level and/or consortium level, has been started.

After the end of the FWO project, the promoter-spokesperson of the FWO project must submit the final version of the DMP with regard to their own project, or if appropriate the DMP of the consortium of which the FWO project is part, at their main Flemish host institution. This final DMP must be kept by the main Flemish host institution for at least five years and must be provided to the FWO upon request.