Data Management Skillbuilding Hub

Best Practice: Define roles and assign responsibilities for data management


Best Practices by Data Life Cycle

Define roles and assign responsibilities for data management

Data Life Cycle stage(s): Plan

In addition to the primary researcher(s), there might be others involved in the research process that take part in aspects of data management. By clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved, data are more likely to be available for use by the primary researchers and anyone re-using the data. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined, rather than assumed; this is especially important for collaborative projects that involve many researchers, institutions, and/or groups.

Examples of roles in data management:

  • data collector
  • metadata generator
  • data analyzer
  • project director
  • data model and/or database designer
  • computing staff responsible for backup and/or storage
  • staff responsible for running instruments
  • administrative support staff responsible for grant submission
  • specialized skills as defined in the plan (GIS, relational database design/implementation, computer programming of sensors/input forms, etc)
  • external data center or archive

Steps for assigning data management responsibilities:

  1. For each task identified in your data management plan, identify the skills needed to perform the task
  2. Match skills needed to available staff and identify gaps
  3. Develop training/hiring plan
  4. Develop staffing/training budget and incorporate into project budget
  5. Assign responsible parties and monitor results

Description Rationale

A successful data management plan requires that the appropriate staffing resources are available and trained. Identifying specific tasks and responsible parties will help with budgeting, implementation, and preservation of the data resources.

Additional Information

Search on the web for information on “Project Planning: Roles and Responsibilities for developing specific staffing/training plans”

Van den Eynden, V., Corti, L., Woollard, M. & Bishop, L. (2011). Managing and Sharing Data: A Best Practice Guide for Researchers. Last updated May 2011.


Task: complete metadata record
Skills: knowledge of EML, and XML editing (Morpho), knowledge of the data to be documented
Responsible party: Jane Smith
Training needed: attend XML training on-line
Personnel time or %fte: 1/4 time for 1 month for Smith
Estimated cost: $1,000
Additional resources: $100 to travel to remote site to meet with researcher
Deadlines: one month after data is collected or end of fiscal year



Cite this best practice:

Theresa Valentine, DataONE  (May 11, 2011) "Best Practice: Define roles and assign responsibilities for data management". Accessed through the Data Management Skillbuilding Hub at on Aug 31, 2020


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