USGS Data Management
Publication or public release of USGS data is now required by Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget and USGS policies. Further USGS policy required data published or released to the public must receive approval before release unless that data is preliminary or provisional.
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. New USGS policies on data clarify and facilitate the release (publication) of data to the public.
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 which may be used to fulfill USGS review requirements for obtaining approval for data release:
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) entitled “Distinctions Between New Research or Interpretive Information Products and Previously Published or Noninterpretive Information Products”.
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 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. The May 2013 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Open Data initiative specifies details of open access requirements for data released 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.
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Says:
The USGS Instructional Memoradum IM OSQI 2015-03 – Fundamental Science Practices: Review and Approval of Scientific Data for Release stipulates data must be approved before release and provides details on what is required to obtain approval to publish or release data to the public.
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 public Web site. Whichever option you choose, the data must meet all FSP requirements related to data release, metadata and preservation.
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