Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

1100.4 - Use of Outside Publications, Including Abstracts

This chapter describes the use of outside publications including abstracts, which are appropriate venues for some U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) information products.

Administrative Note: SM 502.10, Fundamental Science Practices: USGS Authorship of Scientific Information Products, supersedes SM 1100.5 mentioned in this chapter. 



Instructions: This Survey Manual (SM) Chapter replaces and expands the part of SM 503.1, dated April 11, 1988 that addressed Outside Publications. The part of SM 503.1 that addressed the USGS Publication Series is covered in SM 1100.3.

1. Purpose. This chapter describes the use of outside publications including abstracts, which are appropriate venues for some U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) information products.

2. Background and Authority. 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. 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. The USGS has proprietary interest in, and is accountable for the work performed by its employees and contractors. The need to report the results of investigations by the USGS has been recognized since the Bureau was created. The Sundry Civil Bill (U.S. Statutes at Large, v. 20, p. 394-395) was signed into law on March 3, 1879.

3. Policy.

A. Information products published by the USGS should be made available in the most appropriate medium, which is determined on the basis of content, intended audience, and cost. The results of USGS investigations should be made available in an impartial and objective manner that will best serve all the public, rather than special interests of any group or individual. Established procedures must be followed for reviews, approvals, and release of such information products to assure high quality of and equal access to such data and information. Specific policies and approvals govern news releases, letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and other dissemination to news media. Delegated approval (see SM 1100.2) is required before submittal for publication of any information product in which the USGS has a proprietary interest and all information products in which the author's title and USGS affiliation will be shown. Unless otherwise noted, USGS information products must undergo complete scientific peer review.

B. 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. USGS authors are reminded that releases for copyrighted material must be secured before use. Publication of USGS data and findings in outside publication outlets requires that any financial benefit that might accrue to the author (e.g., royalties) be waived. However, if the product is a joint effort that involves the USGS and non-Federal parties, collaborators, or contractors, the ability and right to copyright may be defined in the underlying agreement or funding documents. Questions on copyright in jointly created works should be referred to the Bureau solicitor.

4. References.

A. Sundry Civil Bill (U.S. Statutes at Large, v. 20, p. 394-395), 1879
B. SM Part 1100 - Publishing 
(1) SM 1100.1 - Information Product Planning 
(2) SM 1100.2 - Approval of Information Products (currently SM 500.8 and SM 500.9)
(3) SM 1100.3 - U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series
(4) SM 1100.5 - Authorship, Acknowledgments, and Credits in USGS Information Products
(5) SM 1100.6 - Use of Copyrighted Material in USGS Information Products 
(6) SM 1100.7 - Audiovisual Media and Products (currently SM 500.7)
(7) SM 1100.8 - Policy for Release of Computer Databases and Computer Programs (currently SM 500.24)
(8) SM 1100.9 - Standards for Digital Spatial Data Released to the Public (currently SM 504.1)
C. SM 500.5 - News Release and Media Relations Policy
D. DM 476 - Utilizing Non-Government Publications to Disseminate Information

5. Responsibilities.

A. All USGS Managers and Authors. Compliance with all the elements in this policy, and underlying policies, is incumbent on all managers and authors within the Bureau.

B. Information Policy Managers and Publishing Groups. Both information policy managers and publishing groups are responsible for policy visibility.

6. Outside Publications. USGS information that is published by any entity other than the USGS is considered to be an outside publication. These publications provide USGS authors with an important vehicle to convey ideas, results, and interpretations to a broad audience of scientists, to a very restricted audience of discipline specialists, or to the general public. Scholarly journals published by scientific societies or commercial publishing houses form the bulk of publication outlets outside the USGS. Other outlets include the publication series of cooperators. Information products for outside publications must receive delegated approval before they are submitted for publication. Page charges may be paid using appropriated funds.

A. Technical and Scientific Journals and Publications. Information may be published in technical journals and publications of scientific societies or of commercial publishing houses if it is determined on the basis of content, intended audience, and cost that this is the most appropriate medium.

B. Abstracts. Abstracts are condensed informative summaries of scientific studies, results, and interpretations. Typically they summarize the principal conclusions of the author's current work but contain little supportive data. Abstracts allow USGS authors to communicate to diverse audiences in a timely manner. Abstracts are often a part of a larger volume containing other abstracts; summaries of workshops, symposia, or conferences; or synopses of programs. Scientific peer review and delegated approval are required before submittal for publication.

C. Publications of Cooperators. Agreements with many Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies and nongovernmental organizations specify that each party shall have the right to publish the results of the investigations. For products released by cooperators, USGS scientific peer review and approval are required if an author's USGS affiliation is shown or if USGS is otherwise identified as releasing the material. When cooperative studies are undertaken, the requirements and mechanisms for, or restrictions on, release of any information product resulting from these studies should be specified in the memorandum of understanding, contract, or other agreement by which the work is undertaken. These agreements should be reviewed before either party publishes or distributes any results of the investigations.