Publication of scientific data as stand-alone products or in conjunction with the scholarly articles they support is integral to the open data movement. The USGS is developing a path forward for formally releasing USGS scientific data called a "data release".
USGS Data Release Workbench
Open Data Overview
Requirements referenced in the USGS Public Access Plan:
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires:
Data Release in the USGS
What constitutes a release of USGS scientific data within USGS?
Metadata describes information about a dataset, such that a dataset can be understood, re-used, and integrated with other datasets. Information described in a metadata record includes where the data were collected, who is responsible for the dataset, why the dataset was created, and how the data are organized.
Once you have created metadata, it needs to:
How do I create a metadata record for data? See Describe > Metadata.
Persistent Identifiers are globally unique numeric and/or character strings that enables a user to access a digital resource via a permanent, long-term link. While there are several standard persistent identifier systems, the USGS uses Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) for its information products. All data being released in USGS must have DOIs. Digital Object Identifiers are especially useful when citing your data. Like a publication, cite and receive credit for your data.
Once you have created a digital object identifier, it needs to:
What does a DOI look like? How do I create a DOI? What is an example of a data citation? See Preserve > Persistent Identifiers.
Any data released by USGS, whether provided to support a scientific publication or for general use by the public, must be entered into the USGS Information Product Data System (IPDS) so that review and approval of the data and associated metadata can be documented. Review is necessary to ensure that the data are well documented and are as complete, consistent, accurate, and precise as needed to achieve the goals for which they were created. The IPDS tracking system ensures that established review procedures have been applied consistently to all approved data releases. Compliance with IPDS requirements is mandatory regardless of whether the final data are distributed by USGS or by another organization.
Both metadata and data must be reviewed. The reviews may be carried out by one or more people, but reviewers will need to examine both data and metadata in order to understand the data and to ensure that the metadata accurately describe the data. To maintain objectivity, reviewers should not be chosen from the people who are working on the project. Copies of draft metadata, reviewer comments, and reconciliation notes should be uploaded to IPDS. The data and metadata review can be done by a non-USGS employee.
The following "checklists" may be helpful to reviewers of data and metadata:
Data funded by the USGS must be released on a government server. This can take the form of a Science Center website, an approved data application, or a repository. Regardless, the release point should represent the components of a USGS “Trusted Digital Repository” (coming soon). Data releases in USGS will not all look the same.
USGS ScienceBase offers one possible way to store and maintain your data, and offers assistance in data release.
Contact your USGS center or program for more information on their specific data release process.
Your released data must be shared with the public and research communities through the USGS Science Data Catalog. This metadata catalog provides seamless access to USGS research and monitoring data from across the nation. Users have the ability to search, browse, or use a map-based interface to discover data. Data providers are assured the USGS Science Data Catalog meets White House Open Data reporting requirements for USGS; provides a Search and Discovery Tool that allows for metadata retrieval, visualization, download, and linking back to original data providers; offers a single source for USGS to serve its metadata to data.doi.gov, Data.gov, and OMB; helps ensure that USGS metadata meet requirements.
To submit your metadata to the Science Data Catalog.
Examples of data release across USGS:
Fitting it all together:
Figuring out a workflow for data release in USGS can be interesting. Here are some examples of workflows that have been developed: