Publication of scientific data as stand-alone products or in conjunction with the scholarly articles they support is integral to the open data movement. The USGS has developed a path for formally releasing or publishing USGS scientific data called a "data release."
Elements of a Data Release
The USGS requires 7 elements to release data: 1.) Data management plan, 2.) data, 3.) FGDC-compliant metadata, 4.) DOI, 5.) data & metadata review, 6.) acceptable data repository, and 7.) metadata available through the USGS Science Data Catalog.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), May 9, 2013, Memorandum M-13-13 entitled "Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset" requires agencies to support downstream dissemination activities for all new information created and collected (e.g. using machine readable and open formats, data standards, and common core and extensible metadata).
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires:
SM 502.6 - Fundamental Science Practices: Scientific Data Management
SM 502.7 - Fundamental Science Practices: Metadata for USGS Scientific Information Products including Data
SM 502.8 - Fundamental Science Practices: Review and Approval of Scientific Data for Release
SM 502.9 - Fundamental Science Practices: Preservation Requirements for Digital Scientific Data
For every project, the USGS requires a data management plan. This plan should be written prior to beginning project work, and updated throughout the project. A data management plan focuses on how the data will be handled throughout the project. For example, how will the data be obtained or collected? What is the schedule and budget for data collection? How will the data be quality checked? How will the data be stored, accessed, and protected? A good data management plan provides a strategy for how you will answer all of these questions. Learn more about DMPs at Plan > Data Management Plans.
Ensure that your data is in open format (CSV, ASCII, GIF, NetCDF, GeoTiff, etc.) to ensure longevity. The data can be released separately or alongside the publication of the scholarly journal it supported. Learn more about file format options and best practices at Acquire > File Formats.
Metadata describes information about data, such that the data can be understood, re-used, and integrated with other data. Information described in a metadata record includes where the data were collected, who is responsible for the data, why the data were created, and how the data are organized. Learn more about metadata creation at Describe > Metadata.
Once you have created metadata, it needs to:
contain the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in the record
Persistent Identifiers are globally unique numeric and/or character strings that enables a user to access a digital resource via a permanent, long-term link. While there are several standard persistent identifier systems, the USGS uses Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) for its information products. All data being released in USGS must have DOIs. Digital Object Identifiers are especially useful when citing your data. Like a publication, cite and receive credit for your data. Learn more about DOIs at Publish/Share > Digital Object Identifiers.
Once you have created a digital object identifier, it needs to:
appear in your metadata record
be included in your publication as a data citation, if it applies
Any data approved for release by USGS, whether provided to support a scientific publication or for use by the public or by cooperators, must be reviewed and approved. Review is necessary to ensure that the data are well documented and are complete, consistent, accurate, and precise as needed to achieve the goals for which they were created.
Both metadata and data must be reviewed. The reviews may be carried out by one or more people, but reviewers will need to examine both data and metadata in order to understand the data and to ensure that the metadata accurately describe the data. Metadata, data review documents, and reconciliations, are maintained in an internal USGS system.
Data Release Review Checklists
A number of checklists are available to help data authors, reviewers, and USGS Center Directors as they work through the review process:
Data funded by the USGS must be released on a government server. This can take the form of a Science Center website, an approved data application, or a repository. Regardless, the release point should represent the components of a USGS “Trusted Digital Repository." Data releases in USGS will not all look the same.
USGS ScienceBase offers one possible way to store and maintain your data, and offers assistance in data release.
Metadata Available in the USGS Science Data Catalog
Your released data must be shared with the public and research communities through the USGS Science Data Catalog. This metadata catalog provides seamless access to USGS research and monitoring data from across the nation. Users have the ability to search, browse, or use a map-based interface to discover data. Data providers are assured the USGS Science Data Catalog meets White House Open Data reporting requirements for USGS; provides a Search and Discovery Tool that allows for metadata retrieval, visualization, download, and linking back to original data providers; offers a single source for USGS to serve its metadata to data.doi.gov, Data.gov, and OMB; helps ensure that USGS metadata meet requirements.
The latest USGS Science Data Catalog (SDC) now requires that every metadata record be assigned a unique persistent identifier (PID), so that records can be individually tracked in both the SDC and the downstream federal catalogs for uniqueness, provenance, and versioning. The metadata PID must be unique, registered in the USGS Persistent Identifier Registration (PIR) Tool, and must be placed in a specific location in the CSDGM or ISO XML record. Depending upon the repository selected, the metadata PID may need to be assigned by the metadata author prior to deposit in the repository, or it may be assigned by the repository staff as part of the finalization of the data release. Email the SDM team for information regarding responsible party for metadata PID registration and insertion in the final XML file.