Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

1100.3 U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series






Issuance Number:      1100.3

Subject:                             U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series  

Issuance Date:             07/15/2021

Expiration Date:          07/10/2026

Responsible Office:     Office of Communications and Publishing

Instruction:  This Survey Manual (SM) chapter updates and replaces SM 1100.3, U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series, dated December 29, 2003.

Approving Official:      /s/ Roseann Gonzales-Schreiner 

                                            Deputy Director for Administration and Policy


1.    Purpose and Scope.  As a public agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a responsibility to make the results of its scientific research widely and promptly available to the public in the form of scientifically sound and professionally presented information products.  This SM chapter describes the USGS publication series used to release the results of the Bureau’s scientific research projects.  The purpose of this SM chapter is to define general requirements governing the use of the publication series described below.  The accompanying Appendix A – USGS Publication Series Definitions provides more details on using each series.  This policy applies to results of work performed by USGS employees as well as to results of work performed by contractors, grantees, and others on behalf of the USGS.

2.    Background.

A.  Scientific publications are the chief products of the Bureau.  The need to report the results of investigations by the USGS has been recognized since the Bureau was created under the Sundry Civil Bill, signed into law on March 3, 1879.  Subsequent legislation (refer to Title 43 U.S.C. Chapter 2) has continued the legal mandate for USGS publication activities and has specified additional types of reports.  The USGS mission to describe and understand the Earth is not complete until the results of USGS investigations have been published and disseminated to those who need the information.  Dissemination can occur through one of the USGS publication series as described in this SM chapter or through outside publications described separately in SM 1100.4, Use of Outside Publications, Including Abstracts.  

B.  The audiences for USGS publication series fall into four distinct audience types: core professional, noncore professional, the general public, and USGS employees.  Each publication series is designed to meet the specific needs of one or more audience types.  Additional guidance on the appropriate series for each audience is provided in the summary of each publication series below and in the series definitions in Appendix A.

3.    Authority and References

A.  SM Part 1100 - Publishing Policies

B.  SM Part 502 - Fundamental Science Practices (FSP) Policies

C.  SM 500.25, Scientific Integrity

D.  SM 550.1, USGS Visual Identity System

E.  SM 1100.3, Appendix A, USGS Publication Series Definitions

F.  Plain Writing Act of 2010

G.  USGS Public Access Plan

4.    Policy.

A.  The results of USGS investigations must be made available in an impartial and objective manner that will best serve all the public, rather than the special interests of any group or individual.  These results are made publicly available in USGS scientific information products (as defined in FSP chapter SM 502.1, Fundamental Science Practices: Foundation Policy, released in the Bureau publication series or in publications of outside entities (refer to SM 1100.4, Use of Outside Publications, Including Abstracts).

B.  Selection of media for release of USGS publication series information products is determined on the basis of the intended audience, the purpose of the publication, and the content as described in Appendix A.

C.  Publication series may be used to report the results of investigations funded through Federal appropriations or conducted under a USGS grant, contract, memorandum of understanding, volunteer agreement, or other cooperative/collaborative agreement.

D.  USGS FSP requirements and guidance regarding review, approval, and release of publication series information products must be followed.  All USGS publication series information products must receive a minimum of two peer reviews (SM 502.3, Fundamental Science Practices: Peer Review), an editorial review (SM 1100.2, Editorial Review of U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series Information Products), and Bureau approval (SM 502.4, Fundamental Science Practices: Review, Approval, and Release of Information Products, and SM 205.18, Authority to Approve Information Products) before final preparation by the Science Publishing Network (SPN) for release.  These reviews and approvals must be tracked and documented in the internal USGS Information Product Data System (IPDS).  Each publication series, excluding the Restricted-File Federal Interagency Report (RFFIR) series and the Techniques and Methods series, must use the official series-specific numbering convention and numbers are assigned to individual products automatically in the IPDS (refer to Appendix A). 

E.  All publication series products except those in the RFFIR series are released online to the public through the USGS Publications Warehouse, which is the authoritative repository for all USGS scholarly publications (refer to the USGS Public Access Plan)

F.  Each publication series product in the USGS Publications Warehouse must have a landing page that provides bibliographic metadata and links to any associated data or software used to support the conclusions presented in the product (refer to 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, and Instructional Memorandum (IM) OSQI 2019-01.

G.  A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is required for each USGS publication series information product except those in the RFFIR series.  The DOI is assigned and registered with Crossref ( by the IPDS through an automated process. Chapters within a single information product cannot be assigned an individual DOI for each chapter, but chapters prepared for separate release can be assigned individual DOIs.

H.  Scientific data associated with USGS publication series information products are required to be publicly accessible and machine readable (refer to Office of Management and Budget Memorandum 13-13, Open Data Policy—Managing Information as an Asset) and Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, which includes the OPEN Data Act.  In order to meet this requirement, USGS datasets, regardless of size, must be released as a USGS data release or through a web data service (refer to SM 502.8).  While USGS publication series information products are not the appropriate release outlet for associated scientific data, subsets of the associated data, along with a link to the full data release or web data service, may appear in tables within the body of the publication series.

I.  The Department of the Interior and USGS requirements related to ensuring scientific integrity and complying with the code of scientific conduct must be followed for all USGS publication series (refer to Departmental Manual (DM) chapter 305 DM 3, Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities, SM 500.25, Scientific Integrity, and USGS Code of Scientific Conduct).

J.  USGS publication series information products must conform to USGS Visual Identity System requirements (SM 550.1) and Federal laws and guidelines regarding accessibility as described in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (SM 600.6, Implementation and Administration of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act).

5.    USGS Publication Series Descriptions.  General descriptions of the publication series are below.  Complete definitions are found in Appendix A – USGS Publication Series Definitions.

A.  Professional Paper.  Professional Papers are aimed at a core professional and noncore professional audience.  The Professional Paper series is the premier publication series of the USGS and includes comprehensive, interpretive reports of wide and lasting interest and scientific or technical importance.  This series is characterized by thoroughness of study and breadth of scope or geographic coverage.  This series also may include collections of related papers addressing different aspects of a single scientific topic, issued either together under one cover or as separate chapters.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Professional Paper.

B.  Scientific Investigations Report.  Scientific Investigations Reports are aimed at a core professional and noncore professional audience.  Scientific Investigations Reports, like Professional Papers, contain significant interpretations and are of lasting scientific importance but generally are narrower in scientific scope and (or) geographic coverage.  Scientific Investigations Reports may also comprise a collection of related products on a specific topic published as a single volume or as individual chapters.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Scientific Investigations Report.

C.  Scientific Investigations Map.  Scientific Investigations Maps are generally aimed at a core professional and noncore professional audience although some may have a broader, more general audience.  Scientific Investigations Maps include both black-and-white and multicolor oversize sheets and may include companion pamphlets.  Scientific Investigations Maps cover a wide array of subjects.  This series may include collections of related maps or charts addressing different aspects of a single geographic area or scientific topic, issued separately or as a set.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Scientific Investigations Map.

D.  Data Report.  Data Reports (formerly Data Series) serve core professional and noncore professional audiences.  Data Reports are intended for extended descriptions (including purpose and scope, collection methods, summaries, and other information) of a dataset or database that provide more detail than can be included in a metadata record.  The Data Report series may or may not contain interpretive information.  The associated dataset or database must be released separately as a data release from an acceptable USGS digital repository (refer to SM 502.8 and the FSP guide to data releases) or through a web data service (refer to SM 502.8).  Videos that are scientific in nature rather than for outreach purposes may be released in this series.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Data Report.

E.  Techniques and Methods.  The Techniques and Methods series serves core professionals and USGS employees.  This series describes approved scientific procedures and methods for planning and executing studies and performing laboratory analyses, including collecting, analyzing, and processing data.  This series may also be used for manuals and documentation associated with software that is released separately as described in the USGS software release policy.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Techniques and Methods.

F.  Circular.  Circulars are primarily intended for the general public and are of wide interest to nonscientists, but they may also be appropriate for noncore professional and core professional audiences.  Circulars convey in plain language (refer to the Plain Writing Act of 2010) a wide variety of scientific topics related to the mission of the USGS.  Circulars often demonstrate how science can address issues of public interest and inform public policy and management decisions.  This series should not be used to present new scientific information or data.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Circular.

G.  Fact Sheet.  Fact Sheets are primarily intended for the general public, but they may also be appropriate for noncore professional and core professional audiences.  Fact Sheets present a wide variety of topics covered concisely and in plain language (refer to the Plain Writing Act of 2010), for example, information about USGS science, programs, funded projects, data, tools, and services.  Fact Sheets may also be used to summarize previously published information. Page length for Fact Sheets is limited.  Fact Sheets should not be used to present new scientific results that have not been published elsewhere.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for the Fact Sheet.

H.  General Information Product.  General Information Products are always intended for the general public.  This series covers a broad range of topics presented in plain language (refer to the Plain Writing Act of 2010), and in a variety of media, including pamphlets, postcards, posters, videos, educational materials, discs, bookmarks, and interactive and motion graphics.  This series focuses on USGS programs, projects, and services, or general scientific information of public interest.  This series is not to be used for releasing new scientific information or data. Refer to the Appendix A definition table for General Information Product.

I.  Open-File Report.  Open-File Reports are a limited-use series used for the dissemination of (1) information that must be released immediately to fill an urgent public need, (2) information that is preliminary or provisional in nature and will be superseded by a final information product in another publication series, such as the Professional Paper, the Scientific Investigations Report series, or the Techniques and Methods series.  Examples of appropriate content for Open-File Reports include, but are not limited to, preliminary or provisional: methods; interpretive results (in the form of a report or a map) from scientific investigations; reports of project progress with  interpretive content; a collection of abstracts from non-USGS conferences; a collection of short papers; software user manuals and documentation associated with software that is released separately as described in the USGS software release policy (IM OSQI 2019-01); bibliographies; and videos that are  scientific in nature.  Do not use this series for release of USGS information that is intended to be of lasting scientific importance; as the final information product of a major scientific investigation; to introduce new or revised geologic, stratigraphic, hydrologic, or taxonomic nomenclature; or to publish a collection of manuscripts intended for release as separate, lettered chapters.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Open-File Report.

J.  Restricted-File Federal Interagency Report.  The Restricted-File Federal Interagency Report series (formerly Administrative Report) is a limited-use series prepared by the USGS for other Federal agencies or foreign government entities for which it performs work.  The other Federal agency may be the funding, requesting, and (or) the receiving agency.  The scientific or technical findings presented in this series are released confidentially to the other Federal agency in recognition of that agency’s proprietary interest, which is usually acquired by financial sponsorship.  Federal-interstate compact commissions or Native American tribal organizations are not considered to be Federal agencies or foreign governments in the context of this policy; therefore, this series is not the appropriate series for release to these audiences.  Restricted-File Federal Interagency Report are considered unpublished and must not be cited or quoted except in a follow-up Restricted-File Federal Interagency Report to the same funding agency.  No DOI is assigned.  If the funding agency releases the report to the public, the report must be cited as the funding agency’s report, not a USGS information product.  Use of this series is discouraged—release in another USGS publication series (for example, the Open-File Report series) is recommended so that the work may be cited as a USGS information product.  Refer to the Appendix A definition table for Restricted-File Federal Interagency Report.

6.    Nonseries USGS Information Products.  The Bureau also publishes the following nonseries information products, which are not shown in Appendix A but must follow the same FSP review, approval, and release requirements as USGS publication series information products. 

A.  Information Periodicals.  Information Periodicals are published on a frequent and recurring basis, are widely used as reference materials in their subject fields, and they cover a broad range of statistical and data summaries on mining, minerals, and the mineral industry.  Examples of these periodicals include Mineral Commodity Summaries, Mineral Industry Surveys, the Minerals Yearbook, Metal Industry Indicators, and Nonmetallic Mineral Products Industry Indexes.

B.  Special Publications.  The USGS occasionally publishes special book or map publications that fall outside the publication series and may use this category.  However, when possible, USGS authors should first consider publishing within one of the publication series.

7.    Responsibilities.  It is the responsibility of everyone involved in the development of USGS publication series information products to comply with all elements in this policy.  Specific responsibilities are detailed below.

A.  Office of Communications and Publishing (OCAP).  The OCAP has an important role in ensuring compliance with the requirements related to USGS publication series, including:

(1)  The Associate Director for OCAP and the Chief of the Science Publishing Network (SPN) are responsible for developing, updating, communicating, and enforcing the policies and procedures that pertain to USGS publishing.

(2)  The OCAP coordinates with the Office of Science Quality and Integrity (OSQI) to provide advice and guidance to authors, managers, reviewers, and approving officials regarding use of publication series.

(3)  The OCAP reviews and approves all audiovisual information products at the concept stage, whether they are released as a publication series or a nonseries product, excluding scientific videos (refer to Appendix A and SM 1100.7, Audiovisual Media and Products).

(4)  The SPN is the sole source for providing publishing support services for all publication series.  The SPN is also the sole source for publishing support for all other Bureau information products if such services are needed.

(5)  SPN Publishing Service Center (PSC) managers and publishing staff in the PSCs are responsible for the production of USGS publication series information products, including editorial review of text and map manuscripts (refer to SM 1100.2); illustration; cartography; layout; Section 508 and USGS Visual Identity System compliance; development of the corresponding Publications Warehouse landing pages; and printing and public release.  The SPN also maintains distribution requirements for printed or replicated copies of the USGS publication series.

(6)  The SPN establishes the official series-specific numbering conventions.  The SPN assigns numbers for the Techniques and Methods series upon request of the author (all other series numbers are assigned in IPDS).  The SPN enters final bibliographic metadata into the IPDS for automatic registration of the assigned DOI with Crossref ( upon public release.

(7)  The SPN provides guidance and advice to USGS employees regarding all publishing-related policies to ensure compliance with the requirements for publication series and nonseries information products.

B.  Approving Officials.  Approving officials, including Bureau Approving Officials (BAOs) in the OSQI and Science Center Directors or their designees, verify that the appropriate publication series is used and review publication series information products before granting Bureau approval (refer to SM 205.18 and SM 502.4).  The BAOs in the OSQI coordinate with the SPN to provide advice and guidance to authors, managers, and other approving officials regarding use of the publication series.

C.  Supervisors and Managers.  Supervisors and managers ensure the overall scientific quality of publication series information products authored by the employees they supervise.  They also ensure that all required FSP and OCAP reviews are obtained and all review comments are adequately addressed prior to the final manuscript being forwarded for Bureau approval SM 502.4).

D.  Authors.  USGS authors are strongly encouraged to consult with SPN PSC managers and staff during the planning stages for publication series information products to help avoid delays and reduce costs.  The planning discussion includes, but is not limited to, selection of the appropriate series, budgeting for the product, establishing a schedule to meet target release dates, and communication of any special considerations related to the product.  Authors enter all required information and documentation into IPDS.  Authors must submit all components of their information product to the SPN including digital files with the final text or map manuscript, draft illustrations, imagery, captions, tabular data, geodatabases, acknowledgments and other components before work can start on editorial review, illustration and map preparation, layout, and release.  Authors collaborate with SPN staff throughout the publishing process for their information products.  They coordinate with their supervisors and managers to ensure peer, editorial, and other reviews are obtained and reconciled and approvals have been granted for their USGS publication series information products (SM 502.4).  They approve the final version of the publication series information product prior to SPN’s release in the USGS Publications Warehouse.  Authors also ensure all publication-series and nonseries audiovisual information products (except scientific videos) are reviewed and approved by the OCAP at the concept stage (refer to Appendix A and SM 1100.7).


Appendix A