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good practices

Data management plans incorporated into research projects in Brazil

ELISA CARARETOAs of October 31, research funding applications submitted to FAPESP through Thematic Projects must contain an additional document: a Data Management Plan, which details how the researcher responsible for the proposal intends to manage the information generated by their study. The requirement will gradually extend to other support mechanisms, such as proposals for Regular, Junior, PhD, and Post-doctorate research grants, starting in 2018.

The statement on the new requirement emphasizes “the proper management of research data as an essential part of good research practice” and the importance of information generated by FAPESP-funded projects being “managed and shared in a way that ensures the greatest possible scientific and technological benefit.”

Already required by public and private scientific research support agencies in the United States, Europe, and Australia, the management plan allows researchers to explain, as part of the project plan, how their research data will be treated. The United Kingdom, for example, considers that “publicly funded research data is a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner.” Sharing information helps save resources, avoids duplication of research, protects integrity, reduces the risk of plagiarism, and increases the visibility of results and the possibility of collaboration.

The FAPESP website contains instructions with examples that can help researchers to prepare the document, based on similar guidance from institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom. The plan encourages the ​sharing of information through online public repositories, but does not rule out the possibility of researchers keeping data privately when it cannot be published for ethical reasons or to protect intellectual property—in biomedical studies that need to preserve patient privacy, for example.

“The state of São Paulo will pioneer the implementation of scientific data management mechanisms and policies in Brazil,” commented researcher Claudia Bauzer Medeiros, coordinator of the FAPESP eScience program and one of the proponents of the initiative. She noted that the Brazilian Code of Good Scientific Practices, adopted in 2011, states that researchers must make the records produced by their research publicly available. “Now, with the management plan, they will be able to explain how the data will be managed—from collection to preservation—as well as when, where, and how it will be made available,” she says.