This guidance is intended to help U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists and science center data managers meet and understand the Bureau's Fundamental Science Practices (FSP) and publishing requirements for data release, including how release of data associated with scientific results in companion scholarly publications must occur before or in parallel with the dissemination of these results. USGS published research is not reproducible without the data that were used, and therefore the data must be released. Data ownership and responsibility for release of data should be clarified at the outset of a project and included in its data management plan (DMP). Scholarly publications specifically refer to journal articles, USGS series publications, as well as cooperator reports.
This document supplements data-related requirements USGS authors must follow, including those found in directives from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act) which includes Title II the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act (Public Law 115-435), the USGS public access plan, and FSP.
Note: Information products (other than USGS series publications) created in the internal Information Products Data System (IPDS) prior to July 15, 2021, must adhere to the previous guidance for a data release with or without a companion publication. All USGS information products (including outside publications) created in IPDS on or after July 15, 2021 must adhere to the guidance for a data release with or without a companion publication described herein.
Historically, USGS funded data were commonly released as supplemental files associated with a USGS series publication or were included as supporting material in outside publications such as journal articles; however, effective October 1, 2016, this practice is no longer allowed to comply with the OSTP and OMB public access and open data directives. Together, these directives require data used to support the conclusions in federally authored and (or) funded scholarly publications be provided free to the public. The OSTP and OMB approved USGS Public Access Plan provides details on how the data upon which USGS scholarly conclusions are based must be made available free to the public before or simultaneously with publication of those related scholarly conclusions. The Evidence Act contains statutory mandates regarding Federal Government evidence-building activities, open government data, and confidential information protection and statistical efficiency. Title II of the Evidence Act—the OPEN Government Data Act of 2018—includes additional requirements related to Federal policies and data infrastructure investments supporting information quality, access, protection, and use, and sets in law many of the key aspects of the Federal Government's open data initiatives. FSP further addresses USGS specific requirements related to release of scientific data as described in Survey Manual (SM) chapter SM 502.8.
In the Federal Government and broadly in the worldwide scientific community, the act of providing public access to data supporting scholarly conclusions is embraced and often required. In the USGS, this provision can result in dual processes, that is, release of scholarly peer-reviewed publications and separately, prior or simultaneous release of the data associated with these companion scholarly publications. These dual processes have differing requirements, options, and timelines, but are necessary for future reuse of the data and to support the scholarly publication conclusions. The plan for managing the lifecycle of data associated with USGS science publications must be described in DMPs and made part of project work plans, as described in SM 502.6 and SM 502.2. DMPs are living documents that are updated as needed throughout the duration of the project.
USGS funded scientific data are those data collected with federally appropriated funds provided directly to the USGS as part of the congressionally enacted USGS budget and therefore are subject to USGS requirements for data release (refer to SM 502.8) and FAQ E.2.12. Conversely, scientific data collected by USGS scientists with funding from another Federal agency or a non-Federal cooperator and used to support scholarly conclusions are not considered USGS funded data. Regardless, all data collected by USGS must be reviewed for quality before delivery to the funding cooperator. Responsibility for providing public release of these data should be clearly specified in the contract or collaborative agreement with the other agency or cooperator as well as in the USGS project’s DMP. If the non-USGS funding organization who owns the data has not released the data, the following options are acceptable: (1) USGS can encourage the organization to release the data, (2) USGS can release the data with written permission from the data owner (refer to SM 502.5), or (3) a disclaimer statement can be added to the publication noting why the data are not publicly available (refer to the statements below).
USGS data releases fit into one of two categories:
- Data released by the USGS without an associated companion scholarly publication.
- Data released by the USGS associated with or to accompany a companion scholarly publication.
Both categories require valid and complete metadata for the data, as described in SM 502.7.
USGS funded data, which are considered noninterpretive, may be released without a companion publication (refer to SM 502.8).
- USGS data must be released in an acceptable USGS or external repository prior to or simultaneously with the release of a companion publication based on the data. If the data are already released, a new data release is not needed (add a reference citation to the data in the companion publication in the internal USGS IPDS Bibliodata tab field and optionally to the notes tab).
- Data may not be made available only in the body, appendix, supplemental materials, or other sections of a scholarly publication to be considered released. The data must be released according to requirements in SM 502.8 in an acceptable USGS or external repository. However, references to the data release can be made in various sections of the companion publication as needed.
- A citation, including a digital object identifier (DOI), for the data release(s) must be included in the companion publication(s). The citation must always be included in the internal USGS IPDS Bibliodata tab field and may also be added to the notes tab. Additionally, a citation is required in the references section of USGS series publications and is recommended for inclusion in journal publications. If a citation cannot be included in the journal, include it in the IPDS notes tab. For additional guidance on citing scientific data, refer to USGS Data Management website page on Data Citation FAQs.
- If data are not available for public release, use the applicable statement below (in IPDS and the companion publication) denoting why the data are not available:
- “Data are not currently available from funding organization x. Contact organization [x] for further information.” OR
- “Data either are not available or have limited availability owing to restrictions ([state reason for restrictions, such as proprietary interest or sensitivity concern]). Contact [x] for more information.”
Different responsibilities apply for data created with USGS funding than for data funded by others. The following apply depending on the data funding source and role of USGS scientists.
- USGS funded data, USGS scientist is principal investigator (PI) or first author on companion publication – USGS data release is required. Previously published data or data already publicly available from an acceptable repository used to support scholarly conclusions in publications do not require a new data release.
- USGS funded data, USGS scientist is not PI but a co-author of companion publication – USGS data release is required but not necessarily by the USGS co-author. The DMP explicitly describes who has responsibility for releasing these data and that release is required no later than when the scholarly product is published or released.
- Federally (not USGS) funded data, USGS scientist is PI or first author of companion publication – Federal funding agency has the primary responsibility for releasing data unless an alternative release path is explicitly stated in the DMP requiring USGS to take responsibility for and release the data.
- Federally (not USGS) funded data, USGS scientist is not PI but a co-author of companion publication – Federal funding agency has the primary responsibility for releasing data unless an alternative release path is explicitly stated in the DMP requiring USGS to take responsibility for and release the data.
- State, local, non-governmental organization (NGO), or private sector (PS) funded data, USGS scientist is PI or first author of companion publication – State, local, NGO, or PS entity has the primary responsibility for releasing data unless an alternative release path is explicitly stated in the DMP requiring USGS to take responsibility for and release the data. Contact the Office of Tribal Relations for data release responsibilities related to Tribal data.
- State, local, NGO, or PS funded data, USGS scientist is not PI but a co-author of companion publication – State, local, NGO, or PS entity has the primary responsibility for releasing the data unless an alternative release path is explicitly stated in the DMP requiring USGS to take responsibility for and release the data.
- FSP policies
- USGS FSP website
- USGS Data Management website
- USGS Publishing policies
- USGS Publications Warehouse
- USGS ScienceBase
- USGS Software Management website