Survey Manual

1100.5 - Authorship, Acknowledgments, and Credits in USGS Information Products

This policy is issued for guidance to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) authors, including employees, contractors, cooperators, and volunteers and scientists emeriti who are preparing information products to be published either by the USGS or by outside organizations or journals.


OPR: Geographic Information Office

Instructions: This replaces Survey Manual (SM) Chapter SM 503.2 - Credits and Acknowledgments in Reports by USGS Authors, dated September 16, 1996.

1. Purpose and Scope. This policy is issued for guidance to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) authors, including employees, contractors, cooperators, and volunteers and scientists emeriti who are preparing information products (see SM 1100.1) to be published either by the USGS or by outside organizations or journals.

2. Policy. Authorship of USGS information products provides credit and assigns responsibility for information contained in the product. The senior author is responsible for acknowledging contributions and crediting cooperators from other agencies.

3. References.

A. SM Part 1100 - Publishing 
(1) SM 1100.1 - Information Product Planning 
(2) SM 1100.2 - Approval of Information Products (currently SM 500.8 and SM 500.9)
(3) SM 1100.3 - U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series
(4) SM 1100.4 - Use of Outside Publications, Including Abstracts 
(5) SM 1100.6 - Use of Copyrighted Material in USGS Information Products 
B. SM 550.1 - USGS Visual Identity System

4. Responsibilities.

A. Compliance: All USGS Managers and Authors. Compliance with all the elements in this policy, and underlying policies, is incumbent on all managers and authors within the Bureau.

B. Policy Visibility: Information Policy Managers and Publishing Groups. Both information policy managers and publishing groups are responsible for policy visibility.

5. Authorship.

A. Authorship of information products indicates that the person or persons named are responsible for the preparation and content of the information product. Authorship both provides credit and assigns responsibility for the science published in the information product.

B. At least one author of a USGS information product must have been formally affiliated with the USGS at the time the work on which the product is based was performed. Examples of this affiliation include the following:

(1) USGS employees,
(2) formal volunteers, and
(3) individuals working under a USGS grant, contract, memorandum of understanding, or other cooperative agreement.

C. Authorship should be restricted to those who contributed substantially not only to the investigation, providing original data and interpretation of that data, but also to the content of the information product. Senior authorship is normally assigned to the person who was responsible for the most substantive interpretations of the information product and had the principal role in preparing the information product. Authors should be listed in a sequence reflecting their role in the study.

D. Group projects commonly lead to several multiauthored information products. In such instances, group members may well change the order of co-authorship from one information product to another, thereby reflecting the relative importance of each member's contribution to the specific aspect of the study being reported in each individual information product. In the case of lengthy reports, authorship of individual sections may be separately designated to recognize the specialized contributions of one or more investigators. Usually, individuals with only administrative or supervisory responsibilities for the investigation or those who, as members of the group carrying out the investigation, perform valuable but relatively routine technical assistance, should not be included as authors.

E. On USGS information products, affiliation may be shown if one or more authors are not USGS employees; in these instances only the USGS affiliation is shown, not the geographic location or administrative group, for example:

John Doe and Roseanne Roe
U.S. Geological Survey


G.W. Washington
Geological Survey of [State]

The senior author should be named first, regardless of their affiliation.

6. Acknowledgments. The senior author is responsible for acknowledging contributions that do not constitute authorship but that contributed materially to the success of the scientific investigation and the information product. Acknowledgments should also be made in recognition of and appreciation for special assistance and courtesies given to authors during their investigations.

A. Acknowledgments of Assistance by Colleagues.

(1) Acknowledgments should be made for contributions such as making unpublished data from other investigations available to the author; making professional interpretations involving the exercise of independent judgment, principally for the use in the author's information product; furnishing unusually significant consultative or critical advice and ideas that have materially influenced the author in the conduct of the investigation and in the conclusions reached; creating geographic information system databases by scanning or digitizing previously published information products, or otherwise contributing substantially to the preparation of the information product. It is appropriate to acknowledge the analyst for chemical or other analytical determinations, the paleontologist for fossil identification and interpretation, or other specialists for their unique contributions. These acknowledgments of special assistance serve also to assign responsibility for segments of data and inter pretation.

(2) It is unnecessary to express special acknowledgment of the work of others in the organization unless they have had an important influence in the conduct of the investigation or the preparation of the information product. Scientific peer reviewers or editorial reviewers should be acknowledged, with their consent, if the review has been substantive, modified the author's thinking and conclusions, or contributed significantly to the quality of the information product.

(3) Appropriate acknowledgments to an individual may be given for photographs and special artwork used in an information product. Authors must pay particular attention to copyrighted material. When copyrighted materials (such as illustrations and photographs) are used, it is the author's responsibility to obtain the copyright release. Government authors are not free to transfer permission for the use of copyrighted material from one medium to another unless the release or waiver is broad enough to include multiple media.

B. Acknowledgments to Previous Investigators. This kind of acknowledgment recognizes an influence on the author's work that would be inadequately covered by a usual bibliographic citation, such as unusual dependence on a previous investigation, or on unpublished manuscripts, thesis work, or on informal or oral communications.

C. Acknowledgments to Outside Organizations or Individuals. Outside organizations or individuals who give basic data or special assistance to USGS authors, and thereby greatly aid in the accomplishment of their official duties and in the soundness and value of their results, should be acknowledged. Informal and voluntary assistance by members of other organizations or of mining, oil, utility, or other companies, by professional consultants and educators, and by local residents calls for courteous acknowledgment, both in recognition of their public-spirited service and as a means of maintaining and increasing good will for the USGS.

7. Statements Crediting Cooperative Agreements between USGS and Others. In general the USGS should be generous in acknowledging cooperation with Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The following phrases are examples of how to acknowledge cooperative agreements that range from services of considerable monetary value to informal good will cooperation.

A. If the USGS has a formal cooperative agreement with a Federal, State, local, or tribal agency or a nongovernmental organization, or has received services of a considerable monetary value, one of the following may be used:

(1) If the information product is published by the USGS, include the phrase "Prepared in cooperation with (name of cooperator)."

(2) If a USGS information product is published by a cooperating agency, the author's affiliation should be shown and the statement "Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey" should appear on the information product.

B. If there is no financial agreement between the USGS and a cooperating agency, but the work has been done and the information product written collaboratively, include the statement "Prepared in collaboration with (name of other agency)."

8. Place for Acknowledgments and Credits in USGS Information Products.

A. In information products published by the USGS, the statements about sponsorship and organizational relations and the acknowledgments should be given full prominence by placing them in the text as near its beginning as possible. If agencies other than the USGS have had an important share, financial or otherwise, in the investigations, that fact should be shown on the title page and on the cover, preferably by specific mention of the agency or agencies when that can be done without unduly crowding the title page or cover. The statement should take the form "Prepared in cooperation with" or "Prepared in collaboration with" depending on the nature of the assistance. A similarly clear indication of credit and acknowledgment should be requested when cooperating agencies publish information products prepared by USGS authors.

B. Proprietary information, such as mine maps, drill-hole production, or sampling records, requires both an acknowledgment and written permission from the owner if publishing in any information product.

C. For copyrighted materials (such as illustrations and photographs) used, the figure caption should contain the specific words requested by the copyright owner or "Copyrighted; used with permission."

9. Acknowledgment of Approval. Information products may include acknowledgment of official authorization, using the wording "Authorized by the Director, U.S. Geological Survey."

10. Dedications. It is the policy of the USGS and the Federal Government not to dedicate its publications. Other appropriate ways to honor individuals are available, including permanent awards to USGS employees for their accomplishments and memorial volumes published by leading professional societies. Outside publications are especially fitting because they encourage non-USGS scientists to participate in the memorials. The USGS sought permission from the President of the United States for two exceptions to this policy: Professional Papers 1249 and 1250, describing the 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens, were dedicated to USGS Volcanologist David A. Johnston who lost his life during the main eruption.