To examine the effects of research data services (RDS) on the quality of data management plans (DMPs) required for a campus-level faculty grant competition, as well as to explore opportunities that the local DMP requirement presented for RDS outreach.
Nine reviewers each scored a randomly assigned portion of DMPs from 82 competition proposals. Each DMP was scored by three reviewers, and the three scores were averaged together to obtain the final score. Interrater reliability was measured using intraclass correlation.
Unpaired t-tests were used to compare mean DMP scores for faculty who utilized RDS services with those who did not. Unpaired t-tests were also used to compare mean DMP scores for proposals that were funded with proposals that were not funded. One-way ANOVA was used to compare mean DMP scores among proposals from six broad disciplinary categories.
Analyses showed that RDS consultations had a statistically significant effect on DMP scores. Differences between DMP scores for funded versus unfunded proposals and among disciplinary categories were not significant. The DMP requirement also provided a number of both expected and unexpected outreach opportunities for RDS services.
Requiring DMPs for campus grant competitions can provide important assessment and outreach opportunities for research data services.
While these results might not be generalizable to DMP review processes at federal funding agencies, they do suggest the importance, at any level, of developing a shared understanding of what constitutes a high quality DMP among grant applicants, grant reviewers, and RDS providers.