Funding agencies often ask you to identify the types of data that you are producing and the types of data that you will retain for sharing. This section of your DMP is often called “Types of Data,” and funding agencies are interested in details about the kind of data you are collecting, how it is being collected, an estimated amount of how much data will be collected and saved along with the initial file formats produced. The first phase of drafting a data management plan should be to make an inventory of the data you plan to collect, including:

  • The type of data being collected and the software required to work with the data:
    • Examples of types of data: spatial, temporal, observational, experimental, simulations or models, survey responses, etc.
    • Specify if any software is necessary to work with the data files
  • How the data is being collected, generated, etc.
    • Examples: recorded interviews, surveys, models, sensors, image analysis, DNA sequencing, word counts, camera traps, etc.
  • Estimates of how much data will be collected and of that data, how much will be saved
  • How the data will be saved and the types of files being produced
    • This often refers to the final format for the data, or the format in which it will be shared
    • PDF (portable document format), .csv (comma-separated values), .docx (Microsoft Word), .txt (plain-text), etc.


  • It is always recommended to use open file formats rather than proprietary formats, when possible. This makes the data easier to share, work with across platforms and programs, and will make preserving and archiving the data easier. See our table on sustainable data formats for recommendations on various types of data formats.
  • Using a database can be helpful in organizing data, but it is often difficult to export data from a database for future re-use. If you plan on using a database to manage your data, you will need to think about how others will be able to access and export data from it.

Writing Prompts:

  • What type of data is it?
  • How will the data be collected?
  • What file types will the data be saved as?

This content was adapted from Iowa State University Library’s Data Management Plan Guide.