Sample Data Management Plan for Depositing Data with ICPSR

This sample plan is provided to assist grant applicants in creating the required Data Management Plans. Researchers should feel free to edit and customize this text before submission. A letter of commitment from ICPSR confirming that it will archive the data should accompany the plan. Please contact ICPSR Acquisitions,, to request such a letter. Note that letters of commitment from ICPSR are not provided to researchers applying for National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sponsored research because, in most instances, NIJ requires datasets resulting from funded research to be archived with the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) at ICPSR.

Please review our guidelines on how to deposit data with ICPSR.

Data Description – [Provide a brief description of the information to be gathered -- the nature, scope, and scale of the data that will be generated or collected.] These data, which will be submitted to ICPSR, fit within the scope of the ICPSR Collection Development Policy. A letter of support describing ICPSR's commitment to the data as they have been described is provided.

Responsibility – The principal investigator will have overall responsibility for data management over the course of the research project and will monitor compliance with the plan. The PI will ultimately transfer responsibility for data management to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).

Designated Archive – The research data from this project will be deposited with the digital repository of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) to ensure that the research community has long-term access to the data. The integrated data management plan proposed leverages capabilities of ICPSR and its trained archival staff.

Access and Sharing – ICPSR will make the research data from this project available to the broader social science research community. Public-use data files: These files, in which direct and indirect identifiers have been removed to minimize disclosure risk, may be accessed directly through the ICPSR website. After agreeing to Terms of Use, users with an ICPSR MyData account and an authorized IP address from a member institution may download the data, and non-members may purchase the files. Restricted-use data files: These files are distributed in those cases when removing potentially identifying information would significantly impair the analytic potential of the data. Users (and their institutions) must apply for these files, create data security plans, and agree to other access controls. Timeliness: The research data from this project will be supplied to ICPSR before the end of the project so that any issues surrounding the usability of the data can be resolved. Delayed dissemination may be possible. The Delayed Dissemination Policy allows for data to be deposited but not disseminated for an agreed-upon period of time (typically one year).

Selection and Retention – ICPSR will archive the full dataset and its documentation for the long term, supporting the data through changing technologies, new media, and data formats.

Metadata – ICPSR will create substantive metadata in compliance with the most relevant standard for the social, behavioral, and economic sciences—the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI). This XML standard provides for the tagging of content, which facilitates preservation and enables flexibility in display. These types of metadata will be produced and archived:

  • Study-Level Metadata Record. A summary DDI-based record will be created for inclusion in the searchable ICPSR online catalog. This record will be indexed with terms from the ICPSR Thesaurus to enhance data discovery.
  • Data Citation with Digital Object Identifier (DOI). A standard citation will be provided to facilitate attribution. The DOI provides permanent identification for the data and ensures that they will always be found at the URL specified.
  • Variable-Level Documentation. ICPSR will tag variable-level information in DDI format for inclusion in ICPSR's Social Science Variables Database (SSVD), which allows users to identify relevant variables and studies of interest.
  • Technical Documentation. The variable-level files described above will serve as the foundation for the technical documentation or codebook that ICPSR will prepare and deliver.
  • Related Publications. Resources permitting, ICPSR will periodically search for publications based on the data and provide two-way linkages between data and publications.

Intellectual Property Rights – Principal investigators and their institutions hold the copyright for the research data they generate. By depositing with ICPSR, investigators do not transfer copyright but instead grant permission for ICPSR to redisseminate the data and to transform the data as necessary to protect respondent confidentiality, improve usefulness, and facilitate preservation.

Ethics and PrivacyInformed consent: For this project, informed consent statements, if applicable, will not include language that would prohibit the data from being shared with the research community. Disclosure risk management: Once deposited, the data will undergo procedures to protect the confidentiality of individuals whose personal information may be part of archived data. These include: (1) rigorous review to assess disclosure risk, (2) modifying data if necessary to protect confidentiality, (3) limiting access to datasets in which risk of disclosure remains high, and (4) consultation with data producers to manage disclosure risk. ICPSR will assign a qualified data manager certified in disclosure risk management to act as steward for the data while they are being processed. The data will be processed and managed in a secure non-networked environment using virtual desktop technology.

FormatSubmission: The data and documentation will be submitted to ICPSR in recommended formats. Access: ICPSR will make the quantitative data files available in several widely used formats, including ASCII, tab-delimited (for use with Excel), SAS, SPSS, and Stata. Documentation will be provided as PDF. Preservation: Data will be stored in accordance with prevailing standards and practice. Currently, ICPSR stores quantitative data as ASCII along with setup files for the statistical software packages, and documentation is preserved using XML and PDF/A.

Archiving and Preservation – ICPSR is a data archive with a nearly 50-year track record for preserving and making data available over several generational shifts in technology. ICPSR will accept responsibility for long-term preservation of the research data upon receipt of a signed deposit form. This responsibility includes a commitment to manage successive iterations of the data if new waves or versions are deposited. ICPSR will ensure that the research data are migrated to new formats, platforms, and storage media as required by good practice in the digital preservation community. Good practice for digital preservation requires that an organization address succession planning for digital assets. ICPSR has a commitment to designate a successor in the unlikely event that such a need arises.

Storage and Backup – Research has shown that multiple locally and geographically distributed copies of digital files are required to keep information safe. Accordingly, ICPSR will place a master copy of each digital file (i.e., research data files, documentation, and other related files) in ICPSR's Archival Storage, with several copies stored with partner organizations at designated locations and synchronized with the master.