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Fundamental Science Practices (FSP) Information Product Development Steps and Responsibilities

The table below lists the individuals or offices (who) involved in developing, reviewing, and verifying USGS information products prior to publication and states the tasks for which they are responsible (what). Applicable USGS policy, procedures, and other guidance (references) are also provided.

Note that use of the Information Product Data System (IPDS), the Bureau’s official internal product tracking system for managing the development of USGS information products, is required (refer to SM 502.4).

PDF Version of Information Product Development Steps and Responsibilities Note: use this version when printing a hard copy of this page.

Who What Reference
  • Prepares the draft information product manuscript.
  • Initiates the information product record in the IPDS. This task may be performed by the author or a designee.
  • Suggests qualified Peer Reviewers to Supervisor.
  • Collaborates with Supervisor to determine the need for courtesy review.
  • Ensures all manuscripts sent for peer review and courtesy review carry the nondisclosure statement specified in SM 502.3, section 5F and SM 502.4, section 5.A(4).
  • Addresses (reconciles) Peer Reviewers’ comments.
  • Ensures editorial review is obtained, if appropriate.
  • Addresses editorial reviewer’s comments, if applicable.
  • Collaborates with the Supervisor, Science Center Manager, and Approving Official to ensure the information product is forwarded well in advance of the date due to the publisher, leaving enough time for review and reconciliation, approval, and any needed changes before submitting the product to the publisher for release.
  • Informs the Supervisor and Approving Official if significant changes in draft occur so that they may determine if further review and approval is warranted.
  • Forwards updated package to Supervisor (via the IPDS). This task may be performed by the author or a designee. 
    • Note: Updated package includes the revised manuscript, a reconciliation document addressing peer review comments, and all original Peer Reviewers’ comments.
  • Ensures that Bureau approval is obtained and that the approved manuscript is subsequently submitted for release in a timely manner to ensure meeting the publisher’s (USGS or outside publisher) due date.
Author's Supervisor (or designee as appropriate for the Center)
  • Ensures the quality of science information products by Authors they supervise.
  • Provides the draft manuscript of products for release in the General Information Product (GIP) publication series to the appropriate Regional Communications Office in the Office of Communications and Publishing for approval of design and concept.
  • Collaborates with the Author and Science Center Manager and consults the Approving Official to nominate information products for consideration as influential scientific information or highly influential scientific assessments.
    • Ensures the Author or other Science Center staff coordinate with staff in the Office of Science Quality and Integrity (OSQI) to develop the required peer review planning and summary documentation on influential products for posting on the USGS Peer Review Agenda.
  • Selects or ensures the selection of appropriate independent and qualified Peer Reviewers (for the work conducted by scientists they supervise)
  • Facilitates sending package to Peer Reviewers.
  • Determines the need for courtesy review.
  • Ensures editorial review is obtained, if appropriate, and that review comments are adequately addressed.
  • Ensures that the Author has adequately addressed peer review and editorial comments and prepared a suitable final draft of the product.
  • Informs the Science Center Manager about any product content that might be sensitive or controversial and identifies any internal or external groups or agencies that might have particular and (or) immediate interest in such a product.
  • Forwards revised package (via the IPDS) to the Science Center Manager toward consideration for approval.
Peer Reviewers
  • Performs independent scientific or technical review
Science Center Manager or equivalent level (hereafter referred to as Science Center Manager).  Note: The term Science Center Manager is equivalent to other terms that may be used in the USGS, such as Chief Scientist, Center or Branch Chief, Center Director, Coop Unit Leader, and Cost Center Manager.
  • Ensures that standards for scientific quality are met and manages the Center’s review and approval processes related to FSP.
  • Reviews approval package and determines if he/she can approve an information product or if the product needs to be approved by a Bureau Approving Official (BAO) in the OSQI.
    • Approves information products (via the IPDS) that do not contain new interpretive information. Note: The Science Center Manager may redelegate his/her approval authority to a designee of comparable responsibility or knowledge.
    • Forwards approval package for products containing new interpretive material to a BAO (via the IPDS) for approval.
  • Alerts appropriate officials (such as the Regional Director and the BAO) and offices (including the Office of Communications and Publishing) about potential high-visibility products and controversial or policy-sensitive issues in information products.
  • Ensures that required documentation and recordkeeping materials (such as those associated with peer review and copyright permission) are maintained in their Center’s originating office or in the IPDS; these materials are part of the information product’s official project file record and are retained for the period of time as instructed in the General Records Disposition Schedule (GRDS), Chapter 1300-Publishing Records.
Names (or Technical Specialist) Reviewer
  • Verifies the accuracy of specialized technical names used, including geologic, geographic, biologic, hydrologic, and geospatial names and performs geodatabase and metadata review, where appropriate. These reviews may be performed separately or as part of the peer review or editorial review.
Office of Communications and Publishing (OCAP) staff
  • Collaborates with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) regarding communication needs for USGS information products and advises Science Center Managers and others in the Bureau on communications strategy for pending information products that are likely to be notable, policy sensitive, or of high visibility and impact to the scientific community, the public, or a specific industry or interest.
  • Receives IPDS alerts about high-visibility, controversial, or policy sensitive information products to determine appropriate communication needs.
  • Manages Science Publishing Network (SPN) staff and activities, ensuring regular SPN coordination with Authors, Author Supervisors, and Science Center Managers as needed to provide support of Bureau publishing activities.
  • Approves news releases, letters to the editor, and editorials.
  • Approves design and concept for information products in the GIP publication series (approval is by the Regional Communications Chiefs).
SPN Publishing Service Center (PSC) Chiefs in the OCAP
  • Ensures adherence to Bureau publishing policy.
  • Coordinates activities performed by SPN PSC staff related to editing, production, and release of information products.
Editorial Reviewer
  • Ensures that the appropriate Bureau publishing standards are met and performs quality assurance for accuracy and clarity of expression.
    • Note: The editorial review for all information products in the USGS publication series must be performed by editors in the SPN.
Approving Officials (may be Science Center Managers or Bureau Approving Officials (BAOs) in the OSQI depending on the content of the product)
  • Grants Bureau approval, which involves confirming that the appropriate review, approval, and release requirements are followed to ensure USGS science quality standards are met.
    • Science Center Managers (or their designees) generally approve all information products that do not contain new interpretative information.
    • BAOs in the OSQI approve (via the IPDS) virtually all information products containing new interpretive information but approve any information products as requested by Science Center Managers.
  • Notes any appropriate disclaimer statements that should be included.
  • Confirms that the appropriate officials and offices (including the OCAP) have been notified of potentially policy-sensitive or high-visibility information products.
  • Returns information product (via the IPDS), approved for release or for additional review as necessary.
  • Interacts with appropriate officials and managers, Supervisors, Authors, SPN staff, and others in the conduct of their approval responsibilities.
  • Contacts the appropriate Regional Directors and the Director of the OSQI to resolve issues as necessary.
Associate Director, Regional Director, and the Director of the OSQI
  • Collaborate with each other and other members of the ELT regarding setting and executing the policy and practices governing review, approval, and release of USGS information products.
  • Mediate or assist in resolving issues between Science Center Manager and BAO and work together as needed to ensure that issues are resolved.


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