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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

1100.3 - U.S. Geological Survey Publication Series


OPR: Geographic Information Office

Instructions: This Survey Manual (SM) Chapter replaces the part of SM 503.1, dated April 11, 1988, that addressed the USGS Publication Series. The part of SM 503.1 that addressed Outside Publications is being covered in the new SM 1100.4.

1. Purpose and Scope. The purpose of this chapter is to define general policies and requirements governing the use of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) publication series. Information regarding outside publications including abstracts is addressed in a separate policy.

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), signed into law on March 3, 1879, specified the following: "The publications of the Geological Survey shall consist of the annual report of operations, geological and economic maps illustrating the resources and the classification of the lands, and reports upon general and economic geology and paleontology." Subsequent legislation has continued the legal mandate for USGS publication activities and has specified additional types of reports.

Criteria to guide the determination of methods of release of USGS information products have been presented in several Survey orders and manual chapters.

3. Policy. Scientific publications are the chief products of the USGS, and our obligation to the public requires release of information products documenting investigations. 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.

This chapter describes the USGS publication series, which are appropriate media for many information products. Results of USGS investigations may also be published by cooperating Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies and nongovernmental organizations, by scientific and technical societies, or by other publishing organizations.

The results of USGS investigations should 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. Established procedures must be followed for reviews, approvals, and release of information products to assure high quality of and equal access to USGS data and information.

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 1100.4 -Use of Outside Publications, Including Abstracts
(4) SM 1100.5 - Authorship, Acknowledgments, and Credits in USGS Information Products
(5) SM 1100.7 - Audiovisual Media and Products (currently SM 500.7)
(6) SM 1100.8 - Policy for Release of Computer Databases and Computer Programs (currently SM 500.24)
(7) SM 1100.9 - Standards for Digital Spatial Data Released to the Public (currently SM 504.1)
C. SM 314.1 - Field Printing
D. SM 550.1 - USGS Visual Identity System
E. The Communications Framework of the USGS Visual Identity System
F. Appendix A - USGS Publication Series Definitions

5. Responsibilities.

A. All USGS managers, authors, and publishing groups. Compliance with all the elements in this policy, and underlying policies, is incumbent on all managers, authors, and publishing groups within the bureau, as a fundamental part of the publishing process as set forth in the USGS Survey Manual Part 1100.

B. Information Policy Managers and Publishing Groups. Both information policy managers and publishing groups are responsible for policy visibility. Usually, the first point of contact for series information is the author's publishing group or information policy manager.

6. USGS Publication Series.

The USGS publication series are generally used to report the results of investigations conducted by personnel employed by the USGS. They may also be used for publication of results of investigations by non-USGS scientists in which the USGS has a proprietary interest, such as reports of investigations conducted under a Survey grant, contract, or memorandum of understanding.

The selection of a series should be based on the content, audience, and purpose of the publication. (The four distinct audience types are described in the USGS Communications Framework core professional, non-core professional, the general public, and USGS employees.) Audience choices are given in the brief series definitions below. In general, publications intended for general audiences, or educational products, should not be highly technical. Media that serve distribution needs will be determined after the series has been chosen. Publications for which a high demand will be expected can be printed, if appropriate, or be released electronically (Web, CD/DVD, or other media). Lower demand publications can be released as web-only products or, in the case of oversize items, as print-on-demand products.

All information products must undergo technical peer review and be approved by the Director or a delegated approving official, before final preparation for publication and distribution. Additional technical peer and/or editorial reviews may be required to assure the highest levels of scientific accuracy and credibility. The official report numbering system must be used for each report in these series.

The following descriptions briefly define each current USGS series. Complete definitions of the USGS publication series and limited-use series described below can be found in Appendix A - USGS Publication Series Definitions.

A. Professional Paper.
Reports in this series are aimed at a core professional and non-core professional audience. The Professional Paper series is the premier series of the USGS and includes comprehensive reports of wide and lasting interest and scientific or technical importance. The reports are characterized by thoroughness of study and breadth of scope and/or geographic coverage. The series also may include collections of related papers addressing different aspects of a single scientific topic, either issued together under one cover or separately as chapters.

B. Scientific Investigations Report.
Reports in this series are generally aimed at a core professional and non-core professional audience. Scientific Investigations Reports, like Professional Papers, contain significant data and interpretations and are reports of lasting scientific importance, but they are generally more limited in scientific scope and/or geographic coverage. In addition to scientific reports, the series includes general manuals, field trip guidebooks, road logs, proceedings and abstracts for USGS-sponsored meetings, and general reference materials. A Scientific Investigations Report may consist of a collection of related reports on a specific topic published as individual chapters or as a single volume.

C. Scientific Investigations Map.
Reports in this series are generally aimed at a core professional and non-core professional audience although some may have a broader, more general audience. The Scientific Investigations Map series includes both black-and-white and multicolor sheets and pamphlets and covers such diverse subjects as geology, bathymetry, vegetation, landforms, hydrology, hydrogeology, land classification, map projections, quality of water, aquifers, distribution of species, and maps of the Moon, planets, and other satellites. The series may also include oversize graphic presentations that are not maps, such as correlation charts, cross sections, block diagrams, or other charts or tables. The series may include collections of related maps or charts addressing different aspects of a single geographic area or scientific topic, issued separately or bound together in book format.

D. Data Series.
The Data Series is directed to core professional and non-core professional audiences. The Data Series is intended for release of basic data sets, databases, and multimedia or motion graphics. This series can be used for videos, computer programs, and collections of digital photographs. Polished videos that are technical or scientific rather than outreach are placed in this series; such videos do not require concept approval by the Department of the Interior before production can begin. Videos that are preliminary in nature or rough can be placed in the Open-File Report series. Generally Data Series reports are published on CD or DVD; some may be online only.

Although this series can contain interpretive information, the use is primarily for data or digital presentations that cannot be easily released in print format. When the content is primarily in text or map format, one of the other series is more appropriate.

E. Techniques and Methods.
The Techniques and Methods series is directed to core professionals and USGS employees. The series contains manuals that describe approved procedures for planning and executing field and laboratory studies in scientific investigations, including collecting, analyzing, and processing hydrologic data. The series may include selected computer programs, including manuals and documentation that represent major models, methodology, or techniques.

F. Circular.
Circulars are generally aimed at the general public; they may also be aimed at non-core professional and core professional audiences. The aim of the series is to broadly educate and inform about a wide variety of topics covered concisely and clearly to provide a synthesis of understanding about processes, geographic areas, issues, or USGS programs. The focus is usually on USGS programs, projects, and data and how they address issues of public interest. Circulars may include, for example, progress reports of mission programs, preliminary reports on topical investigations or catastrophic events, hazard and resource assessments, classification procedures, and so on. Circulars are of wide, popular interest but are generally of little archival value; this series should not be used to present new data or new scientific findings.

G. Fact Sheet.
Fact Sheets are generally aimed at the general public; they may also be aimed at non-core professional and core professional audiences. Fact Sheets present a wide variety of topics covered concisely and clearly in 1 to 4 pages; the focus is on USGS programs, projects, and data and how they address issues of public interest. Fact Sheets may include, for example, progress reports of mission programs, preliminary reports on topical investigations or catastrophic events, hazard and resource assessments, classification procedures, and so on.

Because they are of wide, popular interest but are generally of little archival value, Fact Sheets should not be used for significant new scientific data or interpretation that has not been published elsewhere. Fact Sheets may be used to summarize or publicize results of previously published studies and their implications or to release new information about USGS programs and products.

H. General Information Product.
Products in this series are aimed at the general public. The series covers a broad range of topics in a variety of media, including pamphlets, postcards, posters, videos, teacher kits, CD/DVDs, bookmarks, and interactive and motion graphics. The focus is on USGS programs, projects, services, and general scientific information of public interest. This series should not be used for new scientific data. Design and content concept must be approved by the Office of Communications. Educational or general-interest videos require concept approval by the Department of the Interior and Office of Communications before production can begin.

7. Limited-Use Series.

The following series are designed to meet specific needs, either immediate release and/or proprietary interest. Reports in this group must receive two technical reviews. They must be scientifically credible and well prepared. These reports must be free of contradictory statements in text and illustrations and meet minimal editorial standards. Each report should meet the need for which it is prepared and clearly communicate fact and interpretation to the intended audience. These reports must be approved for publication by the delegated approving official before release.

A. Open-File Report.
Open-File Reports are used for the dissemination of information that must be released immediately to fill a public need or information that is not sufficiently refined to warrant publication in one of the other USGS series.

Open-File Reports should not be used as final reports of major scientific investigations. Because of their preliminary nature and chance of being superseded, Open-File Reports are not the appropriate series to introduce new or revised geologic, stratigraphic, hydrologic, or taxonomic nomenclature. Examples of appropriate material for release as an Open-File Report include maps and reports that need to be released as supporting documentation because they are referenced, discussed, or interpreted in another information product; preliminary data, maps, and reports; interim computer programs and user guides; and bibliographies.

B. Administrative Report.
Administrative Reports are prepared by the USGS for other Federal agencies for which it performs work. These scientific or technical studies are released to Federal agencies in recognition of the proprietary interest the agencies have, an interest usually acquired by financial sponsorship. Such reports are considered to be unpublished and may not be cited or quoted except in follow-up administrative reports to the same agency, or unless the agency releases the report to the public. Use of this series is discouraged. When possible, other forms of delivery, such as Open-File Reports, are recommended so that the work can be cited.

8. USGS Periodicals.

The series in this group of USGS information products are generally published on a frequent and regular basis and are widely used as reference materials in their subject fields.

A. Information Periodicals.
Information Periodicals cover a broad range of statistical and data summaries on mining, minerals, and the mineral industry. These periodicals include Mineral Commodity Summaries, Mineral Industry Surveys, the Minerals Yearbook, Metal Industry Indicators, and Stone, Clay, Glass, and Concrete Products Industry Indexes.

B. Annual State Water-Data Reports.
This annual series documents the hydrologic data collected by the USGS surface- and ground-water data networks. A report is published for each State, Puerto Rico, and the Trust Territories. These records of streamflow, ground-water levels, and quality of water provide the framework of hydrologic information needed by State, local, and Federal agencies and the private sector for the development and management of land and water resources.

C. Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey.
This has been issued under various titles during the history of the USGS. This is currently issued as the Annual Financial Report.

D. National Water Conditions.
A comprehensive monthly report that summarizes statistical data on streamflow and ground-water conditions in the United States and southern Canada. It is addressed to an audience of water-resources planners and managers in both countries. The report, which is compiled by the Water Resources Discipline of the USGS in cooperation with the Water Resource Branch of the Canadian Department of the Environment, contains tables that show usable contents of selected reservoirs, flow of large rivers, and dissolved solids and water temperatures at selected sites.

E. New Publications of the U.S. Geological Survey.
This release lists all products of the USGS. It also lists reports by USGS personnel in non-USGS publications.

F. Preliminary Determination of Epicenters Monthly Listing.
This online-only listing is produced by the National Earthquake Information Service and lists basic data on earthquake epicenters derived from the Worldwide and National Seismic Networks. The dissemination of these data is mandated by the Congressional budget approved for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. It is strictly a compilation of data, not a publication outlet for scientific articles.

9. Special Book and Map Publications.

The USGS may occasionally publish books and maps that fall outside the USGS publication series. Examples of such special publications include "Suggestions to Authors of the Reports of the United States Geological Survey," "Maps for America," and State geologic maps. Whenever possible, USGS authors should publish within one of the USGS publication series rather than use this category.

Appendix A
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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Issuing Office: Geographic Information Office
Content Information Contact: Karen Siderelis, 703-648-5747,
Last modification: 30-Aug-2017@12:26 (kk)
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