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Checklist for Data Management Plan peer review

Reviewers of USDA Data Management Plans may use the following questions to guide their evaluation.  If you have suggestions or comments on this review checklist, please contact https://www.nal.usda.gov/main/ask-question and choose “Ag Data Commons” as your topic.

General Considerations

  1. Does the DMP cover the full life cycle of the data?
  2. Are best practices in the scientific discipline available and if so are they referenced and/or followed? 
  3. Does the budget adequately cover activities in the DMP?
  4. Is the DMP thoughtful and specific such  that it is apparent that the project has personnel with appropriate knowledge and experience to manage the data?

Expected Data Types

  1. Is there a description of each category of data type and how they will be generated and/or sourced? Are these data types expected for this type of research? Is there any data to be expected that is not mentioned? For example, will data be born digital or recorded on paper? If born digital, will it be generated by measurements from a human or by equipment like a sensor or DNA sequencer?
  2. Does the DMP mention documentation or metadata that will accompany the data, for understandability, validation, and reuse? 
  3. Does the author account for the estimated volume of each data type, especially if it is a lot? (May also be included in Data Storage section)
  4. Does the author note whether any code or multimedia resources (e.g. images or video) other than the article itself will be generated?

Data Format 

  1. Are the data types using the appropriate, research community-supported formats where possible?
  2. Are these data formats non-proprietary, e.g. xlsx or MS Access? If not, is there a plan for generating non-proprietary data formats?
  3. If the data types are non-digital, does the author include plans for digitizing the data?
  4. Does the author indicate which metadata and data standards they will use if any? Are these appropriate for the discipline? Is/Are these formats machine readable? Does metadata standard match chosen repository guidelines?
  5. If there is no metadata standard mentioned, does the author generally explain what information will be kept as metadata and where it can be found? For example, will certain metadata be in a data dictionary, README file, .txt format, or embedded in a spreadsheet tab?
  6. Does the author describe any unusual or expensive software required to work with data and the metadata formats?

Data Storage and Preservation 

Data Storage

  1. Does the author describe the hardware, storage environment, and local or external services to be used? 
  2. Is the storage environment appropriate for the described data types?
  3. Does the author describe who will have access to working data and how access will be managed during and after the grant period, especially if it will not be publicly shared?
  4. Does the author explain how the data will be transferred and shared between collaborators during the award period?
  5. Does the author explain the back-up plan for data throughout the award period? 

Preservation

  1. Does the author describe how long each type of data will be retained or preserved and why? 
  2. Does the author describe hardware or campus or external services to be used to assure data preservation? Is this preservation sufficient for the nature of the data and aligned with agency requirements? This is especially important if not published in a trusted repository.

Data Sharing and Public Access 

  1. Are there any privacy issues for the data types being shared? If so, does the author plan appropriate measures to protect privacy (e.g. measures taken to anonymize data, disposition of data including personally identifiable information)? If there is private or proprietary data, will it be explicitly stated in the data publication or release language?
  2. Does the author indicate when data collection will be completed? 
  3. Is it clear at which stage the data will be shared, processed or raw? 
  4. If there are legal and ethical requirements that may preclude sharing of any of the data types, does the author describe these circumstances?  
  5. If the data types have commercialization potential that may delay or preclude data sharing, is this described? 
  6. Does the author acknowledge when the data will be shared? Is this within the maximum 30 months of the data collection end date?
  7. Does the author state at what point the data will be shared, if it can be shared? 
  8. Is there a location from which the data will be made publically available (e.g. a recognized repository capable of public access to, and long-term preservation of the data: data repositories, disciplinary repositories, institutional repositories that follow the FAIR guidelines re3data, fairsharing.org)? Is this the best place for the data given the disciplinary best practices?
  9. Does the author discuss how users will discover the data (e.g. a specific repository, data citation, project website, Internet search engines, Ag Data Commons catalog). Note that a project website is an excellent assist in discovery of data, but is not considered a viable archival solution. 
  10. Is there a mention of a persistent identifier (e.g. DOI, Handle) to allow for permanent access to the dataset?
  11. Is the intellectual property of the datasets clear, i.e. who has copyright if applicable
  12. Does the author describe conditions for reuse of the data by others including any licenses that will be applied (e.g. Creative Commons)? Are these appropriate for the funding program and discipline?
  13. Does the author acknowledge any data types acquired from third parties, or specify any conditions that may apply for use of your derived data?

Roles and Responsibilities 

  1. Is the person(s) with the primary responsibility for implementing the data management plan and day-to-day operations outlined? Is this person qualified? 
  2. Is there a plan for transfer of responsibility if key personnel depart from the project?
  3. Does the author include sufficient budget to cover costs for data management in the proposal budget, if those are allowed costs?

Monitoring and Reporting

  1. Does the author indicate the plan for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the DMP during and after the award period?