Office of Science Quality and Integrity

A. FSP Background and General Guidance

  1. What is the foundation of FSP?
  2. What USGS scientific information products must follow FSP?
  3. What types of scientific information are excluded from the FSP requirements?
  4. What are the basic FSP requirements for review, approval, and release of scientific information products?
  5. Is guidance available on disclaimer statements that are allowed in USGS scientific information products?
  6. Is guidance available regarding advocacy and recommendations in USGS information products?
  7. What are the policy requirements for USGS authors regarding use of "unpublished data" or "personal communication" (including written, oral or verbal communication) when citing data used to support scholarly publications?
  8. What is the linkage and distinction between FSP and the SPN?
  9. Is guidance available that explains the general review and approval procedures and responsibilities for scientific information product development?
  10. What are the recordkeeping requirements regarding research activities?
  11. Do FSP review and approval requirements apply when a non-USGS scientist is the lead or senior author of a scientific information product?
  12. What happens if a USGS scientist is notified that he/she has been added as an author on a scientific information product already submitted for publication?
  13. Do final technical reports to cooperators or partners have to go through the FSP review and approval process?
  14. What affiliations need to be listed by USGS authors when they write journal articles?
  15. Can contractors use a USGS affiliation in the author byline?
  16. Can volunteers (including scientists’ emeriti), visiting scientists, students, interns, and others use a USGS affiliation in their author byline?
  17. Is it appropriate that a recently hired USGS employee list his/her authorship affiliation for work done previously while not an employee of USGS and also list the USGS as their current affiliation?
  18. Can new interpretive material be posted on a USGS public web page?

 

A.1. What is the foundation of FSP?

The foundation of FSP is to bring forward a set of fundamental principles that underlie USGS science practices, uphold the Bureau's scientific reputation, and underscore its mandate to provide reliable science information to address pressing societal issues (SM 502.1). These principles address how data collection and research activities are planned and conducted (SM 502.2) and promote broad release and communication of the results of these activities in scientific information products that are appropriately reviewed, approved, and released (SM 502.3 and SM 502.4). The choice of what work is to be accomplished, however, remains in the purview of the Bureau’s science planning process.

 

A.2. What USGS scientific information products must follow FSP?

All USGS scientific information products, as defined in SM 502.1, whether they are published by the USGS or by an outside entity, must comply with FSP requirements if the author has full time, part time, or volunteer (including emeritus) USGS affiliation or shared affiliation (for example, between the USGS and a university). These scientific information products include those released in a USGS publication series, nonseries information periodicals, and infrequently used special publications (SM 1100.3), as well as public Bureau web pages that contain scientific information (SM 502.4 and SM 205.18). The FSP requirements must also be met for journal articles, abstracts, and other scientific information  that USGS authors publish in nonUSGS (or outside) outlets such as those of cooperating Federal, State, local, and Tribal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and scientific and technical societies (SM 1100.4). Refer to the FSP requirements for various USGS products for additional information.

 

A.3. What types of scientific information are excluded from the FSP requirements?

Limited exceptions to the FSP requirements may be granted on a case by case basis in consultation with the USGS OSQI. Examples of USGS scientific information excluded from the FSP requirements include the following:

  • A manuscript prepared for a sponsoring organization by a committee that includes a USGS employee is not subject to USGS FSP requirements for peer review and Bureau approval if the committee has its own bona fide peer review process and the USGS employee is identified as a committee member rather than as a named author of the manuscript.

  • Poster sessions and materials for use in oral presentations that are presented once and not disseminated (refer to SM 205.18).

  • Immediate release, time-sensitive products—for example, real-time data or natural hazards data, emergency response information, and alerts such as  remote sensing imagery related to natural disasters, data on contaminant or toxic substance spills that would have immediate human health implications, earthquake alerts, such as the PAGER system or volcanic ash alerts (refer to SM 502.4).

  • Non-science news releases and other media relations products. This information is governed by the Bureau’s official public communications requirements (refer to SM 500.5).

  • Scientific information products produced solely by non-USGS (or extramural) authors in partial fulfillment of USGS-funded grants or cooperative programs.

  • Internal and external correspondence that does not include interpretative science. Such correspondence is governed by USGS correspondence management requirements.

 

A.4. What are the basic FSP requirements for review, approval, and release of scientific information products?

All scientific information products, regardless of format must receive the following reviews and approvals as appropriate, generally in the order shown:

(1) peer review, which ensures the scientific quality of USGS information (as detailed in SM 502.3);

(2) editorial review, (required for USGS publications series), which ensures that appropriate Bureau standards and quality assurance for accuracy and clarity of expression are met (as detailed in SM 1100.2);

(3) policy review (part of Bureau approval), which ensures that all policies relevant to USGS FSP are met and identifies policy-sensitive issues, including those that may have implications related to current policy or that may involve matters of national interest, security, or potential commercial gain (as detailed in SM 502.4);

(4) approval, which includes that of line supervisors generally following the organizational alignment of the senior USGS author, and, subsequently, Bureau approval, which validates the scientific excellence of the scientific information product by the appropriate officials (as detailed in SM 205.18); and

(5) release of USGS publication series products through the USGS Publications Warehouse and the USGS Store (if printed in hardcopy), and submittal of other products to an outside entity for publication.

 

A.5. Is guidance available on disclaimer statements that are allowed in USGS scientific information products? 

Yes. Refer to Guidance on Disclaimer Statements Allowed in USGS Science Information Products for a list of various disclaimers that the BAOs in the OSQI consider acceptable to use in USGS science information products when appropriate.

 

A.6. Is guidance available regarding advocacy and recommendations in USGS information products? 

Yes. Refer to Guidance on Advocacy and Recommendations in USGS Information Products for guidance on advocacy and recommendations in information products, including examples of acceptable and unacceptable statements.

 

A.7. What are the policy requirements for USGS authors regarding use of "unpublished data" or "personal communication" (including written, oral or verbal communication) when citing data used to support scholarly publications?

In accordance with the USGS Public Access Plan, effective October 1, 2016, all supporting digital research data approved for release for final accepted manuscripts or final publications must be freely available for public access at the same time as or before the official publication date. Exceptions are allowed for special circumstances such as location data for endangered species or location data pertaining to homeland security or privacy issues as well as data mentioned in the text but not used as a basis for the conclusions. Thus, the use of "unpublished data" or "personal (written or oral) communication" are not permitted for in-text citations when USGS authors refer to data used to support the results and conclusions in their scholarly publications. Citations referring to unpublished data, however, are allowed when the citation refers to examples that support or contradict findings but are not imperative to the results and conclusions of the publication. Citations referring to written communications are allowed to identify the source of data included in a data table that is part of a publication or in a data release associated with a publication. By doing this, the author is identifying where and how the data originated (name, affiliation, written communication., date).

 

A.8. What is the linkage and distinction between FSP and the SPN?

FSP policy governs and provides the foundation for how scientific investigations and activities are planned and conducted and how resulting scientific information products are reviewed and approved for release (SM 502.1 and SM 502.4). FSP requires that USGS scientific information products conform with established USGS publishing requirements and procedures for production and release (SM Part 1100 - Publishing). The SPN is the Bureau’s organizational unit that is the sole source for providing publishing support services and related needs. USGS authors and SPN staff routinely collaborate to ensure that USGS publication series scientific information products have met the appropriate FSP and publishing requirements prior to release. The SPN’s Publishing Service Center (PSC) staff also prepares all such products for publication, releases them online through the USGS Publications Warehouse, and coordinates printing and print distribution needs.

 

A.9. Is guidance available that explains the general review and approval procedures and responsibilities for scientific information product development?

Guidance available includes procedures for review and approval; a chart showing the general responsibilities of authors, approving officials, and others; and a scientific information product workflow diagram showing typical development steps spanning the time from the author's creation of the scientific information product to its release for publishing. Guidance on review and approval of scientific data for release as well as requirements and guidance for development, review, and approval of metadata for data products are also available (refer to SM 502.7 and FAQs on metadata for scientific data).

 

A.10.What are the recordkeeping requirements regarding research activities?

Documentation and recordkeeping requirements associated with data collection and research activities are found in the USGS Mission-Specific Disposition Schedules and General Records Disposition Schedules.

 

A.11. Do FSP review and approval requirements apply when a non-USGS scientist is the lead or senior author of a scientific information product? 

Yes. The FSP review and approval requirements apply to a USGS scientist who is a coauthor even if a non-USGS scientist is the lead or senior author. If the FSP requirements are not followed, the USGS scientist may not be listed as a coauthor.

 

A.12. What happens if a USGS scientist is notified that he/she has been added as an author on a scientific information product already submitted for publication? 

If a scientific information product has been submitted for publication without a USGS scientist’s prior knowledge or permission and he/she was included as an author, then the review and approval can still be done to confirm the record. The timing of the review and approval process should be made clear by adding applicable comments in the IPDS.

 

A.13. Do final technical reports to cooperators or partners have to go through the FSP review and approval process?

Yes. All scientific information products, including those submitted to an agency that has provided funding to the USGS to carry out scientific research, assessments, or investigations that report on final technical outcomes (new interpretive information) of a project must be peer reviewed and receive Bureau approval.

 

A.14. What affiliations need to be listed by USGS authors when they write journal articles? 

USGS and non-USGS affiliations may be listed. The USGS affiliation must be shown first. Additional affiliations may be added after the USGS author’s affiliation or by footnote or other means, depending on the standards of the chosen outlet. Note that affiliation is generally not shown (in the byline) of USGS publication series information products if all authors are USGS employees.

 

A.15. Can contractors use a USGS affiliation in the author byline? 

When work is done under contract, whether by an individual or through a company or other agency, the contracted author must identify their contractual relationship to the USGS in the author byline. The contract author must also have been formally affiliated with the USGS at the time the work upon which the product is based was performed. The contract author's actual affiliation; that is, the name of the company, agency, or location/town (if self-employed), followed by “under contract to the U.S. Geological Survey” or similar wording, is to be used regardless of the type of publication or whether any USGS employees are included in the list of authors. The contractual relationship also should be described in the body of the report as "This work was done under contract to the USGS" or similar wording. An example for a contract author’s affiliation in a USGS information product is as follows: "[add author’s name], a contractor: Staffing Professionals, Inc., city, state; Work done under contract to U.S. Geological Survey."

 

A.16. Can volunteers (including scientists’ emeriti), visiting scientists, students, interns, and others use a USGS affiliation in their author byline? 

Yes, if these individuals have a formal affiliation with USGS, meaning in this context USGS employment credentials or a formal agreement such as a volunteer agreement or emeritus agreement. Visiting scientists and others who are paid in whole or in part or receive other support, such as per diem, office space, or equipment to use, and others who perform volunteer work under the aegis of the USGS can add the USGS and their specific relationship in the author byline. Students are included in the USGS byline if they are USGS employees in whole or part, covered by some other formal agreement such as a volunteer agreement, or affiliated with a program such as the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. The affiliations might be shown as one of the following: "Visiting scientist, U.S. Geological Survey," "Volunteer, U.S. Geological Survey" or "Scientist Emeritus, U.S. Geological Survey," or for students "First name M. Last name, Student, U.S. Geological Survey." In any case, the specific relationship should be spelled out in the body of the manuscript with wording such as "The work by [add author's name] was done while serving as a visiting scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey." 

 

A.17. Is it appropriate that a recently hired USGS employee list his/her authorship affiliation for work done previously while not an employee of USGS and also list the USGS as their current affiliation?

Yes, this is appropriate to do. The primary affiliation shown should reflect where the employee was located when the work was done and it should be clear that the USGS is not listed in a manner that might imply support, funding, or approval by the USGS if none of this support occurred (refer to SM 1100.5). It is common for authors to show that their current address or affiliation has changed from when the work was done (for example, adding to bylines or contact information:: "*current address: U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, WI"). This is accurate and informative (in case someone would like to contact the employee) and would not imply that the work was done at or for the USGS.

Additionally, because the work was done and completed prior to employment with the USGS, the manuscript would not be subject to the FSP review and approval requirements for scientific information products (refer to SM 1100.5). 
 

A.18. Can new interpretive material be posted on a USGS public web page?

No, a web page cannot be used to release new interpretive material. Certain applications, however, such as interactive web-based maps or model simulations based on real-time data that cannot be effectively released in a USGS publication series or other scientific information product, can be served from a web page but must refer to an associated interpretive information product. Guidance on distinguishing interpretive and noninterpretive material is available at Distinctions between New Research or Interpretive Information Products, Previously Published or Noninterpretive Information Products, and Scientific Data. Guidance in SM 205.18 - provides requirements on the approval authority for new research or interpretive scientific information products and previously published or noninterpretive scientific information products. Approval requirements for web pages are available at Levels of Delegated Bureau Approval Authority for U.S. Geological Survey Information Products.

 

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