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USGS Data Management

Publish/Share > Data Release

U. S. Geological Survey Data Lifecycle Diagram Plan Acquire Preserve Publish/Share Describe (Metadata and Documentation) Manage Quality Backup and Secure
USGS Data Lifecycle Diagram

Data Release

Key Points

  • The Data Release Working Group will develop a system for determining when data from the USGS can be released for USGS users and researchers.
  • Allowing data producers to control when their data are released can minimize their risks and concerns about data sharing.

Most often external scientists, other agencies, and organizations request data from the USGS for analysis or integration with their databases and datasets. Additionally, journals and publishers are increasingly requiring release of data to accompany approved publication. Lastly, USGS policy will require a review of the data and metadata intended for release.

In February 2012, the Community for Data Integration (CDI) created a new working group called the Data Release Team, which is focused on addressing the release of USGS data and metadata. The working group has developed helpful guidance for data and metadata review:

Confused about interpretive versus non-interpretive information products?

USGS Fundamental Science Practices provides a decision tree [PDF] to help clarify when an information product is non-interpretive or interpretive. More information about the differences is available at the Web site Fundamental Science Practices (FSP).

Data Release in the USGS

Many scientific journals now have different requirements regarding how much of their data and methods scientists are required to store in a public archive as part of their publishing process. The February 2013 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Open Access memo specifies open access requirements for scholarly publications and associated data. The May 2013 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Open Data initiative states that the data upon which a scholarly conclusion in a scientific publication is based must be made available online at the same time the scientific manuscript is made available to the public.

Under Federal law the USGS must retain the official record copy of all permanent data related to scientific research and related activities. Therefore it is unwise to use portals not operated by the USGS or another US government entity. Practical issues arise such as: if the data is in two locations how will it be resolved by search engines, which copy will be the authoritative copy? How will the data be cited if it resides in multiple locations? Who is maintaining the portal, and what processes are in place to ensure continued access to the portal? It is OK to use non-Federal catalogs as long as the catalog points back to the USGS official data location.

So what to do?

Place your data on one of the existing USGS data portals, place it on one of the data services maintained by your science center for that purpose, or place it on your project web site. Whichever option you choose, the data must meet all FSP requirements related to data release, metadata and preservation.

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Page Last Modified: Monday, November 24, 2014