The basis of effective research data management is planning. Planning is best done by writing a Data Management Plan (DMP).
A DMP is a formal document you develop at the start of your research project which outlines all aspects of your data management. It describes how data will be managed during the research process and shared afterwards with the wider research community. It will generally address issues of data collection, data organisation and documentation, data storage and security, data preservation, copyright and licensing, and legal and ethical constraints on data sharing.
Many research funders in the US and UK are requiring researchers to submit a data management plan or data sharing plan upon grant application. In Singapore, the National Medical Research Council (NMRC) has indicated a similar requirement for new grant applications.
Developing a DMP may seem daunting. However, it is a vital step in your research process that you cannot afford to skip. It helps you ensure your research data are accurate, complete, reliable, and secure both during and after you complete your research.
A DMP is a living document. Your DMP is to be revised (with version recorded) during the lifespan of the project whenever there is substantial change. The DMP is also meant to serve as a reference document which gives an overall view of your project for people who are interested in your project.
Having a data management plan:
(Source: Digital Curation Centre)