They first mooted this back in September 2010 with their Research Data Policy. It will be mandatory from 19 April 2011.
The Plan should be used to describe how any new data are going to be managed through the life-cycle of the award, until data is accepted for archiving by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS).
In the Research Data Policy, the ESRC suggested that a Management Plan would include the following:
- an explanation of the existing data sources that will be used by the research project with references;
- an analysis of the gaps identified between the currently available and required data for the research;
- information on the data that will be produced by the research project, including the following: data volume; data type, e.g. qualitative or quantitative data; data quality, formats, standards documentation and metadata; methodologies for data collection;
- planned quality assurance and back-up procedures [security/storage];
- plans for management and archiving of collected data;
- expected difficulties in data sharing, along with and causes and possible measures to overcome these difficulties;
- explicit mention of consent, confidentiality, anonymisation and other ethical considerations;
- copyright and intellectual property ownership of the data; and
- responsibilities for data management and curation within research teams at all participating institutions.
So, if you're planning to generate new data do have a look at this site, and also talk to the ESDS, who are past masters at managing and sharing data effectively, and can help you prepare your Plan so it cuts the mustard with the ESRC.