The ability to prepare, release, and share, or disseminate, quality data to the public and to other agencies is an important part of the lifecycle process.
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 publishing USGS scientific data called "data release."
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 collect or create information in a way that supports downstream information processing and dissemination activities. This includes using machine readable and open formats, data standards, and common core and extensible metadata for all new information creation and collection efforts.
SM 502.8 further specifies details on what is required to obtain approval to publish or release data to the public. Until data are approved for release, data are considered provisional or preliminary and subject to revision. Reviews of data and associated metadata are required before data are approved for release. Among other requirements are an appropriate disclaimer statement, a persistent identifier, and procedures to ensure long-term preservation.
"As a public agency, the USGS has a responsibility to make the results of its scientific investigations widely and promptly available to the public in the form of technically sound and professionally presented information products."
"Policy: Copyrighted material will not knowingly be incorporated into any information product prepared by or for the USGS, except with the written consent of the copyright owner. . . . Purchase agreements should refer to both the material that is copyrighted and the copyright permission because they are distinct and both need to be acquired."
Note: Information Product: An information product is the compilation of scientific communication or knowledge such as facts, data, or interpretations in any medium (e.g., print, digital, Web) or form, including textual, numerical, graphical, cartographic, or audiovisual, to be disseminated to a defined audience or customer, scientific or nonscientific, internal or external.
"Policy: Generally, Government information prepared by an employee as part of that person's official duties that is submitted to outside publication is in the public domain and may not be copyrighted. . . . Questions on copyright in jointly created works should be referred to the Bureau solicitor."
“The USGS has a legacy as the producer of long-term datasets for multiple uses, many of which are geographically extensive. Part of the value of these datasets is dependent on USGS scientists describing and documenting the methods used to collect data and making these data accessible in information products.”
“It is the policy of the USGS to conduct its activities and to make the results of its scientific and engineering investigations available in a manner that will best serve the whole public rather than the interest or benefit of any particular group, corporation, individual, or other entity. Preliminary release of USGS data or information, including early release of USGS publications, is not made exclusively to any group or individual.”