CAFe Speaker Series: “The Hermeneutics of Data Management Plans: Open Science Policy in the United States”

Event Start Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 - 4:00 pm

Event End Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 - 5:00 pm

Location: Hybrid: HBK 2119 & Virtual

UMD students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—join us for the CAFe Speaker Series! For those who wish to attend virtually, please use this webinar link. For those attending in person, please come to Hornbake South Room 2119.


The United States’ science data policy has landed in a weird place. Data management plans are now required on federal grants—this is the most significant recent open science data law in the U.S. There are several reasons given in various administrative rules for more access to and transparency around research data including equity, research replicability, projecting the superiority of American science, ensuring the return on investment to taxpayers, incentivizing better research data management, legitimizing a future for data science and data-driven research, and enhancing the quality of science. Some of these justifications are contradictory and none of these justifications make it obvious that data management plans would be the best mechanism for ensuring science data transparency in federally funded research.

But how did the U.S. end up with “data management plans” as a requirement? And, if we take data management plans seriously, what do these plans tell us about the future of science data? Dr. Megan Finn of American University will first examine data management plan requirements for science researchers in the U.S. (particularly the National Science Foundation). Next, she will look at what the data management plans themselves say, drawing from her research team’s corpus of nearly 1,000 data management plans from funded projects. She will offer different approaches to reading data management plans: as scientific furniture, as instruments for accessing funding, as evidence of the neoliberalization of science, as a process document for scientific knowledge production and institutional coordination, as a fantasy document, as instructions for the future, aligning temporalities, and as part of the institutionalization of data-oriented science. By sharing findings about the purposes and premises of planning for data management she will argue they are an important vehicle for the project of open science.


Dr. Megan Finn is an Associate Professor at American University’s School of Communication. Her work examines relations among institutions, infrastructures, and practices in the production, circulation, and use of information. Throughout her work, she brings together perspectives and approaches from information studies, science and technology studies, and the history of media, information, and communication. Her research engages questions that require historical and contemporary analysis, including: How do changing technological infrastructures, information practices, and technology policies shape one another?


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