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Scientific Collections Management

USGS scientists collect geologic, geophysical, biological, hydrologic, and other discipline-related specimens and samples in the conduct of their research. Federal scientific working collections are public assets and need to be well documented if they are to provide reliable and unbiased information, and potentially have value to the broader scientific community.

Scientific collections management enables collections and their ancillary data to be properly handled and documented, and to become a resource for the scientific community after research activities are completed at the USGS. Good collections management is an ongoing process that saves both time and money.

A pair of researchers collecting a soil sample from a hill slope in southwestern Alaska.
A pair of researchers collecting a soil sample from a hill slope in southwestern Alaska.(Credit: Steve Smith, USGS. Public domain.)

Scientific working collections are acquired by USGS scientists, funded by taxpayers, and constitute a valuable resource to the United States and its citizens. These collections remain the property of the federal government until they are deemed to be of no further scientific value. USGS policy and guidance provides instructions to its scientists about how to manage scientific collections after research is completed. By implementing sound collections management, USGS scientific working collections can potentially be used in other contexts and by other researchers