USGS Data Management

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U.S. Geological Survey Data Lifecycle Diagram Plan Acquire Process Analyze Preserve Publish/Share Manage Quality Describe (Metadata, Documentation) Backup & Secure The USGS Science Data Lifecycle
U.S. Geological Survey Data Lifecycle Diagram

Data Management: Data Release, Sharing, and Publication

The ability to prepare, release, and share, or disseminate, quality data to the public and to other agencies is an important part of the lifecycle process. The data should be medium- and agent-independent, with an understanding that transfer may occur via automated or non-automated mechanisms. We need to ensure that data are shared, but with controls to protect proprietary and pre-decisional data and the integrity of the data itself. Data sharing also requires complete metadata to be useful to those who are receiving the data.

Why Share Your Data?

Data sharing benefits the researcher, research sponsors, data repositories, the scientific community, and the public. It encourages more connection and collaboration between scientists, and better science leads to better decisionmaking.

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Sensitive Data

In certain situations, full or even partial data release may not be practical. When such situations arise, they must be handled appropriately.

Data Catalogs & Portals

Data Catalogs and Portals are places where one can search for data. While Repositories physically hold datasets, Data Catalogs and Portals provide searchable directories of data. Submitting your datasets to Data Portals and Catalogs makes them more visible and more likely to be employed by others.

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Data Release

Setting a guideline for data releases can be useful tools for data producers to manage and analyze their data before sharing.

Science Publishing Network / Pubs Warehouse

Publishing is an essential means of conveying USGS science to support and inform decisions of national significance. The USGS provides tools and resources for the support of and access to USGS publications including the Science Publishing Network and the Publications Warehouse.

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Versioning Your Data Release

This USGS guidance describes a formal revision process for datasets and associated metadata that have been released as an information product and require change. This revision guidance is outlined on the USGS Fundamental Science Practices website linked above.

Citing Your Data

It is important not only to cite published articles but also datasets within a publication. Citing datasets gives proper credit to the researcher and reduces the risk of plagiarism.

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Data Collaboration Services

Several software platforms are in use within the USGS that facilitate collaboration.

What the White House Says:

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) February 22, 2013, Memorandum entitled "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research" requires public access to digital datasets resulting from federally funded research, including datasets used to support scholarly publications.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), May 9, 2013, Memorandum M-13-13 entitled "Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset" requires agencies to collect or create information in a way that supports downstream information processing and dissemination activities. This includes using machine readable and open formats, data standards, and common core and extensible metadata for all new information creation and collection efforts.

What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires:

The USGS Survey Manual chapter, SM 502.8 Fundamental Science Practices: Review and Approval of Scientific Data for Release requires timely public access at no cost to scientific data that are developed or funded by the Bureau’s information and research programs.

SM 502.8 further specifies details on what is required to obtain approval to publish or release data to the public. Until data are approved for release, data are considered provisional or preliminary and subject to revision. Reviews of data and associated metadata are required before data are approved for release. Among other requirements are an appropriate disclaimer statement, a persistent identifier, and procedures to ensure long-term preservation.

Chapter 1100.3 - U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series discusses the publication of information products, which includes data products:

"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."

Chapter 1100.6 - Use of Copyrighted Material in USGS Information Products covers the use of copyrighted material in information products, which includes data products:

"Policy: Copyrighted material will not knowingly be incorporated into any information product prepared by or for the USGS, except with the written consent of the copyright owner. . . . Purchase agreements should refer to both the material that is copyrighted and the copyright permission because they are distinct and both need to be acquired."

Note: Information Product: An information product is the compilation of scientific communication or knowledge such as facts, data, or interpretations in any medium (e.g., print, digital, Web) or form, including textual, numerical, graphical, cartographic, or audiovisual, to be disseminated to a defined audience or customer, scientific or nonscientific, internal or external.

Chapter 1100.4 - Use of Outside Publications, Including Abstracts addresses the issue of copyright in external publications:

"Policy: 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. . . . Questions on copyright in jointly created works should be referred to the Bureau solicitor."

Chapter SM 502.2 - Fundamental Science Practices: Planning and Conducting Data Collection and Research describes planning and conducting data collection and Research:

“The USGS has a legacy as the producer of long-term datasets for multiple uses, many of which are geographically extensive. Part of the value of these datasets is dependent on USGS scientists describing and documenting the methods used to collect data and making these data accessible in information products.”

Chapter SM 502.5 - Fundamental Science Practices: Safeguarding Unpublished U.S. Geological Survey Data, Information, and Associated Scientific Materials describes the safeguard and release of USGS data and Information:

“It is the policy of the USGS to conduct its activities and to make the results of its scientific and engineering investigations available in a manner that will best serve the whole public rather than the interest or benefit of any particular group, corporation, individual, or other entity. Preliminary release of USGS data or information, including early release of USGS publications, is not made exclusively to any group or individual.”