Exploring the Development of a Research Data Management Plan

Over the past ten years, there has been an effort to increase access to federally funded research. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) implemented their “Plan to Increase Public Access to the Results of Federally-Funded Scientific Research Results” on December 16, 2015, in response to a February 22, 2013, Memorandum from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP memorandum “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research (Holdren Memo)” directed federal agencies that receive more than $100 million annually to develop and implement a public access plan to improve public accessibility to the publications and data resulting from their research and development programs. While it is not currently a requirement for state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) to comply with the USDOT’s public access plan, it is likely that these requirements will eventually flow down to the state DOTs. Therefore, it is a good idea for state DOTs to start proactively planning how they can develop a research data management plan (DMP) that will make their research more publicly accessible. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is interested in understanding how other states have implemented a DPM and the steps they have taken to make their research results more accessible to the public. An agency’s DMP should describe how researchers will handle research reports and data both during and after a research project. The DMP also needs to describe how it will conform to the DOT public access plan on the dissemination and sharing of research project results. Therefore, the proposed study must include the following tasks: (1) Define what a DMP is along with its purpose, benefits, and how it will provide access to federally funded research. (2) Conduct a literature search of the existing policy directives and sources of public access plans for federally funded research. (3) Document the state of the practice of how state DOTs have created, organized, and executed a DMP, including: (a) Outline the data repositories other states are using, including the benefits and costs associated; (b) Identify the metadata schema that are being used; (c) Define key roles and responsibilities; (d) Specify any instructions and/or specifications provided to researchers to follow; (e) Detail any limitations that may exist concerning privacy, intellectual property, etc.; (f) Describe any contractual clauses being used; (g) Specify how states are monitoring and updating their DMP; (h) Evaluate the ease with which the public can access research documents in the repository; (i) Synthesize findings to assist the Research Center in their overall assessment. This research will help the Research Center and Multimodal Planning Division (MPD) plan for the future. It will provide the information needed to make informed decisions concerning the feasibility of implementing a DMP at ADOT while proactively planning to provide better public access to research study results.