Office of Science Quality and Integrity

Levels of Delegated Bureau Approval Authority for U.S. Geological Survey Information Products

Updated May 2021

The authority to approve scientific information products with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) authorship for release is described in Survey Manual (SM) policy chapter SM 205.18. All Bureau scientific information products must be approved in accordance with USGS Fundamental Science Practices (FSP) review, approval, and release requirements (refer to SM 502.4). USGS FSP approval authority requirements include the following:

  • Information products that contain research or new interpretive material must receive Bureau approval by a Bureau Approving Official (BAO) in the Office of Science Quality and Integrity (OSQI); this approval cannot be redelegated to the Science Center or equivalent level. Guidance for distinguishing new research or interpretive information products and secondary uses of previously published or noninterpretive information products is available.
  • Information products based on previously approved published material or that do not contain new interpretive material, as well as all abstracts, scientific data and software, posters used in poster sessions, presentation materials, geonarratives, and web pages may receive Bureau approval by a Science Center Director or equivalent. Most of these products require at least two peer reviews. For some, however, peer review is at the discretion of the Science Center Director (including abstracts, posters, presentations, science news articles, software releases, and USGS web pages). Science Center Director is equivalent to other similar levels of responsibility in the USGS, such as Chief Scientist, Science Center Manager, Center or Branch Chief, Cooperative Unit Leader, and Cost Center Manager. A Science Center Director may redelegate Bureau approval authority to a designee of comparable responsibility or knowledge. Science Center Directors (or designees) may request that any information product be approved by an OSQI BAO (for example, mineral, energy, or biological assessments and any associated information products).
  • BAO review and approval of information products considered by the USGS to be highly visible, policy sensitive, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) influential is strongly recommended. Additional requirements apply as described in SM 502.3 for OMB influential products (influential scientific information and highly influential scientific assessments); peer review planning documentation must be posted on the public USGS Peer Review Agenda before these influential information products are approved for release.

The table below provides Bureau approval levels for most information products. Guidance on the reviews (e.g., peer review, data review, metadata review, and editorial review) required prior to Bureau approval is included for the listed product types as well as related reference information. All information products listed below requiring Bureau approval by a BAO in the OSQI or a Science Center Director (or designee) must be entered in the internal USGS Information Product Data System (IPDS) where the approval is tracked and documented.

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Information Product Type or Name Description or Definition Content Required Review and
Reference Information
Bureau Approval Level
Science Center Director or Equivalent BAO in the OSQI
Abstract, poster, presentation Abstract: Information products disseminated or published in programs of formal conferences or meetings of scientific societies and professional organizations. 
 
Poster and presentation: Materials for formal conferences or meetings of scientific societies and professional organizations that are for conference dissemination or are posted on a public website. Refer to Additional Guidance for External Presentation Materials.
New interpretive information and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. Optional peer review at the discretion of the Science Center Director (or designee) X  
Interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. Optional peer review at the discretion of the Science Center Director (or designee) X  
Book, book chapter, guidebook, textbook, workshop report, encyclopedia entry, atlas, map, thesis Information products published outside USGS or held in a library with public access. New interpretive information and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3   X
Interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3 X  
Book review, technical comments and reply USGS-authored review or technical comments and (or) reply published in a scientific outlet (rather than as a news media report). Interpretive information, subjective content, and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3   X
Conference publication, extended abstract, symposium proceedings Multipage products summarizing scientific studies, results, and principal conclusions which may include figures, tables, and references. Such products may include a compilation of extended abstracts or short manuscripts to be published as part of a formal conference, symposium, or meeting of scientific societies and professional organizations. New interpretive information and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3   X
Interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3 X  
Cooperator publication Products providing results of studies conducted with cooperators and published by the cooperating entity. May not be a private communication to the cooperator. Refer to FSP FAQ E.4.9. New interpretive information and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3   X
Interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3 X  
Data release Data and associated metadata that may or may not be linked to a companion publication. Refer to Guide to Data Releases with or without a Companion Publication. A data release product is considered noninterpretive. A data review and a metadata review; refer to SM 502.8 X  
Exhibit, poster, newsletter Materials for public presentation or scientific societies and professional organizations that are distributed to members, collaborators, and (or) the public via multiple means (web page, email, and [or] hardcopy). New interpretive information and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3   X
Interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3 X  
Extramural-authored publication These products result from USGS-funded research grants, do not have USGS authors, and are not subject to FSP review and approval. The IPDS is used as a mechanism to catalog and store the accepted manuscript of these publications as a record of USGS-funded products to meet USGS public access requirements. Routes through the IPDS with one step ("Prepare for approval") by the person initiating the record after which the product is stored in the IPDS dark archive and cataloged by the Publications Warehouse. Not applicable; refer to FSP FAQ A.3 Not applicable Not applicable
Journal or periodical article Manuscripts submitted to peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed journals and magazines. New interpretive information and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3   X
Interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3 X  
Science news article, news/press release, opinion piece, letter to editor, video for news release, obituary, social media, audiovisual products Products released in science outlets such as journals. These products can include general information of interest to the science-related news media.
 
If these products contain policy sensitive, highly visible, or OMB influential information (refer to the USGS Peer Review Agenda for required documentation for influential products), the BAO will request an additional review by the Bureau Public Affairs Officer. Final approval by the BAO is granted only after all reviews and reconciliations are complete and any concerns by the Public Affairs Officer have been addressed.
A minimum of two peer reviews (additional peer reviews are highly recommended for OMB influential products); refer to SM 502.3
 
Bureau Public Affairs Officer review, at the request of the BAO; refer to SM 500.5
  X
Products released in a non-scientific news media outlet. These products can include interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. Optional peer review, at the discretion of the Science Center Director (or designee); refer to SM 502.3
 
Bureau Public Affairs Officer review, at the request of the Science Center Director (or designee); refer to SM 500.5
X  
All other official public news media communications, audiovisual products, and social media accounts Official Public News Media Communications: Press releases, media advisories, media events, news features, news media interviews, speeches, statements about official business for public release, letters to the editor, opinion pieces, social media, internet and intranet postings, technical announcements, or other information and material given to news media representatives.
 
Audiovisual Media and Products: Video productions, motion picture films, compact discs, photographs, slides, animations, public service announcements, video news features, and electronic/satellite transmissions.
 
Social Media Accounts: All official USGS social media presences.
These public news media communications are distinguished from the types of scientific new articles published in science outlets as described in the previous row. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Audiovisual media used for purposes of broadcasting public information.
  
 
 
 
 
 
Social media accounts including, but not limited to, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Required reviews determined and documented by the Office of Communications and Publishing (OCAP); refer to SM 500.5 (for official news media communications, SM 1100.7 (for audiovisual products), and https://www.usgs.gov/connect/social-media (for social media accounts) Approval by OCAP, Bureau Public Affairs Officer
Software release Source code or executable code instructions suitable for computer processing regardless of intended platform (web server, mobile device, supercomputer, and others). Examples include computational models, applications for mobile devices, data-processing applications, scientific programming scripts and workflows, code libraries, and algorithms; these products may or may not be linked to a companion publication. A software release product is considered noninterpretive A code review and a domain review; refer to IM OSQI 2019-01 and the Software Management website X  
USGS geonarrative A suite of informational interactive web products involving maps, pictures, text content, and other media used to tell a singular, focused story. Geonarratives are scientific information products based on previously published information. Interpretive information based on previously approved published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR noninterpretive information. A minimum of two peer reviews; refer to SM 502.3 and USGS internal FAQs on geonarratives X  
USGS-owned online databases or web data services Database: Datasets and other items stored together to serve one or more purposes or applications, often including data query or search and retrieval capabilities.
 
Web Data Service: A web service that provides remote access to data using standard data-access protocols. Data services may include application program interfaces (API), which are sets of routines, protocols, and tools for building and enabling interaction among application software.
Databases and data services are considered noninterpretive. A data review and a metadata review; refer to SM 502.8 X  
USGS series publications Refer to chapter SM 1100.3 and its Appendix A for general descriptions and detailed definitions for the various USGS publication series that may be used.
 
All USGS publication series information products are produced through the OCAP’s Science Publishing Network (SPN).
New interpretive information and (or) policy sensitive or highly visible information. A minimum of two peer reviews
 
An editorial review by the SPN; refer to SM 1100.2
  X
Interpretive information based on previously published products (no new conclusions are included) OR based on noninterpretive information. A minimum of two peer reviews
 
An editorial review by the SPN; refer to SM 1100.2
X  
USGS web page A web page may contain text, images, sounds, and video that are viewed through a web browser at a single unique URL. USGS web pages present administrative and general information, previously published information such as program descriptions, project goals, study findings, and research highlights. Interpretive information based on previously published products (with no new results or conclusions) OR based on noninterpretive information.
 
A web page cannot be used to release new interpretive material, except in certain applications, such as an interactive web-based map or model simulations based on real-time data that cannot be effectively released in a USGS publication series or other information product.
Optional peer review, at the discretion of the Science Center Director (or designee) X  

 

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