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Data management refers to creating, saving, updating, making available, archiving and long-term storage of research data. The final goal of this process is often defined in terms of the FAIR principles: 'Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable'.

This involves thinking carefully, before you start collecting or creating data, to make sure that your data is findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable. Not only for others, but also for your own future use.

For more information on data management, see the University Library website.

Template Data Management Plan

Download the Data Management Plan template for researchers.


Data Management Plan

The purpose of data management is to make research data findable, accessible and understandable in the long term. As legal research increasingly uses empirical data, data management planning will become a necessary step in the research process of legal researchers. It is most efficient if it is planned at the start of the research process. An excellent tool to structure your thoughts about your research data is the Data Management Plan (DMP).

Our faculty has 2 DMP’s: DMP Department of Economics and DMP Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology. Furthermore we have Research Data Management Regulations.

See for a template Data Management Plan.

A Data Management Plan outlines your practices for collecting, organising, backing up, and storing the data you will be generating. It provides information including:

  • the types of data that will be produced in terms of format and file size
  • how the data can be classified (e.g. quantitative, qualitative, sensitive)
  • how to ‘read’ or ‘interpret’ the dataset, the way the data is coded, etc. (‘metadata ’)
  • access policies (e.g. whether or not personal or sensitive information will be removed)
  • data use and distribution (e.g. how the data will be made available)
  • data storage and archiving

Who needs a Data Management Plan?

Most people associate data with statistics or other information represented in a form suitable for processing by computer. In a more general sense, however, data means a body or collection of facts or particulars that supports (or falsifies) an opinion, conclusion or theory. Data, therefore, means information. All research in all academic disciplines, therefore, makes use of some form of data.

Not all research projects, however, need to fill out a complete Data Management Plan (DMP):

  • A Data Management Plan (DMP) is needed when the research project generates information (based upon e.g. observations, interviews, statistical operations), since that information needs to be organized, structured, and stored in order to be accessible for others.
  • A DMP is not needed when the information used in the research project is already organized, structured, stored and cared for by some institution, such as the library. That will often be the case in "classic" legal research (doctrinal research), when the data used consists of publicly accessible documents only, such as statutes, rulings, annotations, scientific articles and books.

As legal research increasingly uses empirical data (e.g. interviews, observation, statistical information), also legal research projects need to complete a DMP. When the research project uses publicly accessible data only, the completion of the DMP-form is a formality, performed to declare formally that the project does not generate data and to specify the location of the public data.

Data Management Plan and research lifecycle

You should consider data management at various points in the research lifecycle, especially during the planning stage of a research project. During the planning stage of a research project, you should consider, among other things:

  • the technologies you will use
  • the storage options
  • which ethical guidelines are applicable on this research project
  • whether or not access to the data should be restricted

When you start publishing, consider which data will be available, and how. When you have almost completed your research project, consider whether you have created data that might be useful for others, and which storage best serves reuse of the data by others.


There are several resources available for a better understanding of the various aspects of data management and data sharing:


The Workshop: How to write a Data Management Plan aims to provide you with guidelines that help you understand how to manage the digital data you collect throughout your research in accordance with university and funder requirements.

Centre for Digital Scholarship

The Centre for Digital Scholarship is based at the Library and helps Leiden researchers manage their research data. We cooperate with the National Coordination Point Research Data Management and with Research Data Netherlands, established by the data archives DANS and 4TU.Centre for Research Data. Thus, researchers from Leiden University benefit from local support and national expertise.

Toolbox for Data Management

Online courses have been designed to get familiarized with the principles of good data management: how do I save my data, how can I easily find and share my data sets, how can I reuse data? There are also tools to simplify data management.

Contact the Centre for Digital Scholarship if you need any support.

Data Repository

To upload your data to a data repository, make sure that your data is properly organised and labelled.

Preferably the data should be archived at a certified national or international data repository. If data is confidential, privacy-sensitive or competition-sensitive, special forms of storage or limited access might be required. Storage of data solely on computers or external media (e.g. USB memory stick, CD, hard disks) is considered too risky (it is easier to lose or over-write your files or to accidentally share your confidential files). An overview of existing repositories with Data Seal of Approval can be found on a list of repositories. The Centre for Digital Scholarship can advise you on the most appropriate repository for your data.

Leiden Policy

Leiden University endorses the principle that the results of research that have been publicly funded should be freely accessible. In 2016, it has decided on Research Data Management Regulations. Apart from the Provisional Regulation, the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018 applies for all researchers at the Dutch Universities.

See further the Leiden University website on Data Management

Ethical Issues

If your research involves human participants, all associated data need to be handled correctly. Personal or sensitive data, for example, may not be suitable for sharing with other researchers. In these cases, anonymisation techniques, data aggregation for numeric data, or pseudonyms in qualitative data should be considered. In general, it is recommended to have this kind of research evaluated by an accredited ethical committee (see Ethical Committee SSH).


  1. To who do I send my DMP?
    The DMP should be sent to the Dean of the Leiden Law School together with the final version of your PhD-thesis at the end of your research.
  2. Is there a format DMP for Leiden Law School?
    Yes, Leiden University has a general template for a DMP.
  3. Who checks the DMP?
    Your thesis director/supervisor is responsible for the check of your data management plan. 
  4. Who can I contact for more information?
    For more information you can send a mail to the Meijers Institute.
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