Scientific Data Policy Statements


The statements that follow express the policies of a number of organizations on data issues. Most of these are related in some way to the environmental sciences, where international sharing of data on a global scale is essential to progress in research.

If you know of other policies or have further relevant information, please notify


A. Intergovernmental organizations

B. International organizations

C. U.S. Governmental organizations

D. U.S. non-governmental organizations

E. References


A. Intergovernmental organizations


World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Executive Council Resolution, June 1990:

Requests members to reaffirm their commitment to the "free and unrestricted international exchange of basic meteorological data and products" among national meteorological services.

WMO Congress, Resolution, June, 1995:

The Congress,

Adopts the following policy:

As a fundamental principle of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and in consonance with the expanding requirements for its scientific and technical expertise, WMO commits itself to broadening and enhancing the free and unrestricted* international exchange of meteorological and related data and products;

Adopts the following practice:

  1. Members shall provide on a free and unrestricted basis essential data and products which are necessary for the provision of services in support of the protection of life and property and the well-being of all nations, particularly those basic data and products, as, at a minimum, described in Annex I to this resolution, required to describe and forecast accurately weather and climate, and support WMO Programs;
  2. Members should also provide the additional data and products which are required to sustain WMO Programs at the global, regional, and national levels and, further, as agreed, to assist other Members in the provision of meteorological services in their countries. While increasing the volume of data and products available to all Members by providing these additional data and products, it is understood that WMO Members may be justified in placing conditions on their re-export for commercial purposes outside of the receiving country or group of countries forming a single economic group, for reasons such as national laws or costs of production;
  3. Members should provide to the research and education communities, for their noncommercial activities, free and unrestricted access to all data and products exchanged under the auspices of WMO with the understanding that their commercial activities are subject to the same conditions identified in Adopts (2) above;

Urges Members to:

  1. Strengthen their commitment to the free and unrestricted exchange of meteorological and related data and products;
  2. Increase the volume of data and products exchanged to meet the needs of WMO Programs;
  3. Assist other Members, to the extent possible, and as agreed, by providing additional data and products in support of time-sensitive operations regarding severe weather warnings;
  4. Strengthen their commitments to the WMO and ICSU WDCs in their collection and supply of meteorological and related data and products on a free and unrestricted basis;
  5. Implement the practice on the international exchange of meteorological and related data and products, as described in Adopts (1) to (3) above;
  6. Make known to all Members, through the WMO Secretariat, those meteorological and related data and products which have conditions related to their re-export for commercial purposes outside of the receiving country or group of countries forming a single economic group;
  7. Make their best efforts to ensure that the conditions which have been applied by the originator of additional data and products are made known to initial and subsequent recipients;
*"Free and unrestricted" means non-discriminatory and without charge. "Without charge", in the context of this resolution, means at no more than the cost of reproduction and delivery, without charge for the data and products themselves.

WMO World Data Centers

Principles Governing Access to Data Held in WMO World Data Centres (WDCs) 

The overall purpose of these principles is to facilitate the full, open and prompt availability of quality assured data.  They were prepared in consonance with the goals of the relevant WMO Programmes, and the WMO policy on international data exchange, as set out in Resolution 40 (Cg_XII) - WMO policy and practice for the exchange of meteorological and related data and products including guidelines on relationships in commercial meteorological activities.

1.   WMO World Data Centres (WDCs) are coordinated through the relevant WMO bodies.  The Centres themselves are established, organized, supported and managed entirely within national and international entities, as their contribution to the relevant WMO Programmes.

2.   WMO Members have a common ownership of the data held in the WMO WDCs.

3.   WMO WDCs should provide data on a free and unrestricted basis, at the lowest possible cost which should be no more than the cost of reproduction and distribution.  No charge will be made for the data themselves.

4.   WMO WDCs shall not accept in their holdings data for which there are restrictions for free and open access.

5.   Members participating in the relevant WMO Programmes are urged to endeavor to submit data to the relevant WMO WDCs as promptly as possible in accordance with the procedures defined by the Centres.

6.   Procedures and criteria for data reporting to the WMO WDCs should be developed by each of the Centres.

7.   Data archives of WMO WDCs must include readily accessible and comprehensive information describing the datasets, including quality assessments.

8.   WMO WDCs should, to the greatest extent possible, use media as well as processing and communication systems which are compatible with internationally accepted standards and protocols.

9.   Long-term preservation of all data submitted to the WMO WDCs should be ensured.

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO

Resolution I.9 (from the First Session of the IOC Assembly):

Recommends that all oceanographic data taken by ships and recording stations outside territorial waters within the limits of declared national programmes be exchanged under the headings listed and by the methods prescribed in the IGY data centre manual...

Recommends to member countries the establishment of national oceanographic data centres in order to facilitate the collection, processing, analysis, and exchange of oceanographic data;

Data Management Policy for Global Ocean Programs, adopted March 1993:

The overall purpose of this policy statement is to facilitate full and open access to quality ocean data for global ocean research programs. The Global Ocean Program to be carried out under GOOS (Global Ocean Observing System) requires an early and continuing commitment to the establishment, maintenance, validation, description, accessibility and distribution of high-quality, long-term data sets.

  1. Full and open sharing of a wide spectrum of global international data sets for all ocean programs is a fundamental objective.
  2. Data submitted for international exchange should be provided at the lowest possible cost to global ocean researchers in the interest of full and open access to data. This cost should, as a first principle, be no more than the marginal cost of processing, copying and shipping to fill a specific user request.
  3. Preferably, all data should be made available in the public domain of IODE [International Organization for Data Exchange] data centers within one year of collection (chemical, biological and geological data may require longer intervals). For those global ocean programs in which selected principal investigators have initial periods of exclusive data use, data should be made available as soon as they become widely useful or at the maximum two years after data collection.
  4. Preservation of data needed for long-term global ocean programs is required. For each and every global ocean data parameter, there should be at least one explicitly designated archive.
  5. International data archives must include easily accessible information about the data holdings, including quality assessments, supporting ancillary information, and guidance and aids for locating and obtaining the data.
  6. National and international standards should be used to the greatest extent possible for media and for processing and communication of global oceanographic data sets.

World Climate Program

Statement on the Climate Agenda, adopted at the Intergovernmental Meeting, April 1993:

...the WCP (World Climate Program) and the associated activities have:
--established concerted efforts to obtain and preserve data from the atmosphere, ocean and land surface, together with a co-ordinated international framework for the standardization and full and open exchange of such data (...).

Committee on Earth Observations Satellites (CEOS)

Terms of Reference Amendment, November 1990:

Members must have a continuing activity in space-borne Earth observations (...) and provide non-discriminatory and full access to data which will be made available to the international community.

Resolution, December 1992:

...Recognizing the common goal of providing data to global change researchers from all missions on a consistent basis reflecting primarily the cost of fulfilling the user request; recognizing also that the constraints of the mission operations and of available resources may require different mechanisms for data exchange/sharing to be found for different programs:

CEOS members endorse the following principles relating to data exchange in support of global change/climate and environmental research and agree to work toward implementing them to the fullest extent possible (...).

  1. preservation of all data needed for long-term global change/climate and environmental research and monitoring is required;
  2. data archives should contain easily accessible information about the data holdings, including quality assessments, supporting ancillary information, and guidance and aids for locating and obtaining the data;
  3. international standards, including those generated by the CEOS Working Group on Data, should be used to the greatest extent possible for recording/storage media and for processing and communication of data sets;
  4. maximizing the use of satellite data is a fundamental objective. An exchange/sharing mechanism among CEOS members is an essential first step;
  5. non-discriminatory access to satellite data by all users for global change/climate and environmental research and monitoring is essential. This should be achieved within the framework of the exchange and sharing mechanisms set up by CEOS members;
  6. programs should have no exclusive period of data use. Where the need to provide validated data is recognized, any initial period of exclusive data use should be limited and explicitly defined. The goal should be release of data in some preliminary form within three months after the start of routine data acquisition;
  7. criteria and priorities for data acquisition, archiving, and purging should be harmonized.

International Earth Observing System Partners (IEOS)

IEOS Data Exchange Principles, July, 1996,

The Data Exchange Principles establish the basis on which the Agencies listed below will share the data from the International Earth Observing System (IEOS) among themselves and make such data available to other users. The Agencies are: the European Space Agency (ESA) along with the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT); the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) along with the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the Japanese Science and Technology Agency (STA) along with the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), the Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan (MITI), the Japan Environment Agency (JEA), and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA); and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The IEOS is currently composed of the following platforms and their corresponding Earth Observation instruments which are listed in the IEOS Implementation Plan: the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS), beginning with EOS AM1; the ENVISAT-1 element of the ESA Polar Orbit Earth Observation Mission (POEM) programme; the NOAA Polar orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES), beginning with NOAA N; the Japanese Earth Observing System (JEOS) beginning with the Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS); and the NASA/Japanese Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). The IEOS Agencies will endeavour to include future Earth Observation missions, as appropriate, within the IEOS framework, including application of these Data Exchange Principles.

The following Principles address the criteria of access and utilisation of data from the above platforms. Modalities of implementation will be agreed by the parties in the IEOS Implementation Plan. Detailed Terms and Conditions for the practical execution of these Principles will be documented in the IEOS Implementation Plan and agreed by the Agencies. The definitions attached to these Data Exchange Principles are an integral part of them, and will be referred to for the correct implementation of all arrangements and cooperative activities carried out in the IEOS.

1. All IEOS Data will be available for peaceful purposes to all users on a non discriminatory basis and in a timely manner.

2. There will be no period of exclusive data use. Where the need to provide validated data is recognised, any initial period of exclusive data use should be limited and explicitly defined. The goal should be release of data in some preliminary form within three months after the start of routine reception of instrument data.

3. All IEOS Data will be available for the use of each of the Agencies and its designated users at the lowest possible cost for non-commercial use in the following categories: Research, Applications, and Operational Use for the Public Benefit.

4. Agencies which designate users for Research Use and for Applications Use will do so through an Announcement of Opportunity or similar process. The designation will include a definition of the data to be provided. Research Users shall be required to submit their results for publication in the scientific literature and Applications Users shall be required to publish their results in a technical report and both shall be required to provide their results to the designating Agency and to the Data Providing Agency.

5. Any of the Agencies may designate national users of the respective countries or Member States of the Agencies as it deems appropriate to be given access to all IEOS data at the lowest possible cost for Non commercial Operational Use for the Public Benefit, provided the designating Agency assumes responsibility for ensuring that all the terms and conditions for data use are met. This use will have to be reported to the Data Providing Agency on the basis of commonly agreed criteria including type, usage, and final destination of the data. Designation of users outside the national territory of the Agencies or their member states (eg., international organisations and agencies in non-participating countries) for Non-commercial Operational Use for the Public Benefit will be done only with the agreement of the Data Providing Agency.

6. For purposes other than 3 above, the specified data will be made available in accordance with terms and conditions to be established by the Data Providing Agency.

7. Each Data Providing Agency will fulfil the data requests of the other Agencies and their designated users to the maximum extent possible. In the event that these data requests exceed the Data Providing Agency's capacity, the Data Providing Agency and the designating Agency will pursue alternative arrangements to fulfil such requests.

8. All data required by the Agencies and their designated users will be made available on condition that the recipient agrees to applicable intellectual property rights terms and conditions and/or proprietary rights consistent with these Data Exchange Principles, and ensures that the data shall not be distributed to non designated parties, nor used in ways other than those for which the data were provided, without the written consent of the Data Providing Agency.

9. Any of the Agencies may delegate some of its functions to other entities; in which case, such Agency will remain responsible for ensuring compliance with these Data Exchange Principles.

10. Agencies will harmonise criteria and priorities for data acquisition, archiving, and purging, in consultation with other relevant organisations.

The following Definitions apply in the context of these Principles:

 Applications Use of data is a limited proof of concept study toward:
    1) the solution of an applied program to demonstrate the utility of the data; or
    2) the demonstration of the operational use of the data.

Data refers to original Earth observation sensor output and higher level products created from it by the Data Providing Agency as part of the standard set of products.

Data Providing Agency is the Agency which has primary responsibility for the distribution of data from a particular instrument or is the owner of such data. The Data Providing Agency will be defined in agreements between the operator of the platform carrying the instrument and the instrument provider should the two be different organisations.

Lowest Possible Cost for designated users is no more than the additional cost of resources, above the cost of the normal planned data system operations, required to fill a specific user request. These costs may include media, labour, expenses for operating and maintaining equipment, as well as delivery charges for mail or electronic transmission. The above costs should not include non recurring costs such as research, development, and space segment capital cost. However, it may include a reasonable amount towards additional capital cost of data provision.

Non commercial Use is the utilisation of data to provide a service for the public benefit as distinguished from conferring an economic advantage on a particular user or group of users.

Non commercial Operational Use for the Public Benefit is the utilisation of data to provide a regular service for the public benefit as distinguished from conferring an economic advantage on a particular user or group of users. An example is the use of data to carry out a mandate of environmental observation and prediction. These activities can be carried out by national or international agencies or other entities designated by these agencies to support their public benefit mandate. Such a user may be requested by the Data Providing Agency and/or the designating Agency to provide a periodic status report back to them.

Non discriminatory Basis means that all users in a clearly defined data use category can obtain data on the same terms and conditions, and the categories are defined in such a way that all potential users will be included in categories with access to the data.

Research Use of data is utilisation of data in a study or investigation which aims to establish facts or principles.

Houston Economic Summit of the Group of Seven Most Industrialized Nations

July 1990:

We recognize the importance of coordinating and sharing the collection of satellite data on earth and its atmosphere. We welcome and encourage the ongoing discussions for the establishment of an International Network.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Ministerial Communiqué, January 1991:

OECD governments should strengthen their efforts to support and encourage the international science community to assess environmental risks to human health and natural ecosystems, and to promote a full and open exchange of environmental data and information.

Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research

Establishing Agreement, May 1992:

Article II, Objectives:

The Institute shall pursue the principles of scientific excellence, international co-operation, and of full and open exchange of scientific information, relevant to global change. In order to do so, the objectives of the Institute are to:
c) foster standardization, collection, analysis and exchange of data relative to global change" (...).

Article IX, Institute Research Centers:

3. The Institute Research Centers shall, inter alia :
b) collect data and promote the full, open, and efficient exchange of data and information between the Institute and the Parties" (...)."

Agenda 21, UN Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED)

June 1992:

Chapter 31: The Scientific and Technological Community

A. Improving communication and cooperation among the scientific and technological community and decision makers and the public

Basis for action:

31.2 The scientific and technological community and policy makers should increase their interaction in order to implement strategies for sustainable development on the basis of the best available knowledge. This implies that decision makers should provide the necessary framework for rigorous research and for full and open communication of the findings of the scientific and technological community, and develop with it ways in which research results and the concerns stemming from the findings can be communicated to decision-making bodies so as to better link scientific and technical knowledge with strategic policy and program formulation (...)


31.4 Governments should undertake the following activities:
e) To improve and strengthen programs for disseminating research results of universities and research institutions (...). This requires full and open sharing of data and information among scientists and decision makers.
Chapter 35: Science for Sustainable Development
D. Building up scientific capacity and capability


35.22 The following activities should be undertaken:

c) Develop and expand national scientific and technological databases, processing data in unified formats and systems, and allowing full and open access to the depository libraries of regional scientific and technological information networks. Promote submission of scientific and technological information and databases to global or regional data centers and network systems;


e) Develop, strengthen and forge new partnerships among national, regional and global capacities to promote the full and open exchange of scientific and technological data and information and to facilitate technical assistance related to environmentally sound and sustainable development. This should be done through the development of mechanisms for the sharing of basic research, data and information, and the improvement and development of international networks and centers, including regional linking with national scientific databases, for research, training and monitoring. Such mechanisms should be designed so as to enhance professional cooperation among scientists in all countries and to establish strong national and regional alliances between industry and research institutions (...).

Framework Convention on Climate Change

June 1992

Article 4: Commitments

  1. All Parties, taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and their specific national and regional development priorities, objectives and circumstances, shall:

g) Promote and cooperate in scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and other research, systematic observation and development of data archives related to the climate system and intended to further the understanding and to reduce or eliminate the remaining uncertainties regarding the causes, effects, magnitude and timing of climate change and regarding the economic and social consequences of various response strategies;

h) Promote and cooperate in the full, open and prompt exchange of relevant scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and legal information related to the climate change, and to the economic and social consequences of various response strategies (...).

November 1998

Decision 14, Conference of Parties

The Conference of Parties,


2. Urges Parties to undertake free and unrestricted exchange of data to meet the needs of the Convention, recognizing the various policies on data exchange of relevant international and intergovernmental organizations... 


B. International organizations


International Council for Science (ICSU)

General Assembly Resolution, 1999:

Noting that in the course of the monitoring activities set up following the last General Assembly, ICSU Press, CODATA, ICSTI, COSTED, and SCFCS* have noted threats to the free flow of scientific data and information inherent in the developing national and international legislative framework for intellectual property;

Calls on national members to take appropriate steps to ensure that their governments and legislators are aware of the needs of research and education when new national and international laws are being framed in the areas of intellectual property, copyright, and related rights.

*CODATA = Committee on Data for Science and Technology
ICSTI = International Council for Scientific and Technical Information
COSTED = Committee on Science and Technology in Developing Countries
SCFCS = Standing Committee on Freedom in the Conduct of Science

General Assembly Resolution, 1988:

Noting that:

  1. the success of international co-operative programmes in science depends on an unprecedented sharing of scientific data and information;
  2. ICSU has a long-standing commitment to the free circulation of scientists and access to scientific data and information; and
  3. processes of data and information handling and dissemination are rapidly becoming technically more sophisticated and potentially more expensive for those who provide and use there services;

Recommends all ICSU members to support the fundamental principle of open exchange of data and information for scientific purposes by strongly urging public and private organisations in all countries to facilitate access to scientific information and data needed to address the research objectives of ICSU programmes; and

Further recommends that the Executive Board establish a mechanism to monitor the implementation of his principle and take action on problems that may arise.

General Assembly Resolution, 1996:

Noting that there may be constraints on the free flow of scientific data and information, imposed on grounds of national security, confidentiality, commercial value, copyright, or historical disciplinary practice;

Recommends as a general policy the fundamental principle of full and open exchange of data and information for scientific and educational purposes.

ICSU World Data Centers (WDC)

from "Principles and Responsibilities of ICSU World Data Centers", April, 1996

... WDCs will prepare and publish catalogs of their data holdings, or otherwise make freely available information on their holdings, e.g., by electronic access. 

WDCs will exchange data among themselves, as mutually agreed and whenever possible without charge, to facilitate data availability, to provide back-up copies, and to aid the preparation of higher order data products. 

No confidential or security-classified data are to be held in a WDC. 

Data may be subject to privileged use by their originators, for a period to be agreed beforehand, and not to exceed two years from the date of acquisition by the WDC. 

WDCs will provide data to scientists in any country free of charge, on an exchange basis or at a cost not to exceed the cost of copying and sending the requested data. Additional charges may be made for special services, or for acquiring data from outside the WDC system. 

WDCs will accept any scientist as a visitor to work on site with data holdings held under WDC auspices. 

International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP)

Report No. 12, November 1990:

Consequently, IGBP-DIS should have the following characteristics:

Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)

Policy on data access, January 1993:

The Joint Scientific and Technical Committee of GCOS has begun to discuss and formulate its data policy. The following points will be important considerations in such a policy:

Second World Climate Conference (SWCC)

Scientific and Technical Statement, November 1990:

High priority must be placed on the provision and international exchange of high-quality, long-term data for climate-related studies. Data should be available at no more than the cost of reproduction and distribution. A full and open exchange of global and other data sets needed for climate-related studies is required.

Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP)

SCOSTEP Bureau Resolution, 1994:


The long-standing policy of open and unrestricted access to basic scientific data at costs not to exceed the costs of copying and distribution, initiated under the auspices of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) for the International Geophysical Year (IGY 1957/58) and implemented through ICSU’s charge to the World Data Centers (WDC) that were created to preserve and disseminate IGY and post-IGY data;

And Considering

The tremendous success of this open and unrestricted scientific data policy in promoting international scientific cooperation and advancing scientific knowledge, as well as the immeasurable benefit to the countries which have contributed to its implementation by ensuring an uninterrupted flow of key environmental data to government agencies and the private sector;


While recognizing that economic pressures may place severe restrictions on many governmental institutes,

Expresses Its Deep Concern about the recent policies of some national bodies attempting to recover the costs of operating arrays of environmental monitoring sensors and of generating data products useful for scientific research, thus interrupting the routine data collection and exchange in some disciplines of direct concern to SCOSTEP,

Reaffirms its strong support of ICSU’s policy of free and uninhibited exchange of solar, interplanetary, geophysical and meteorological data, without which the present and future worldwide cooperative studies would be severely impaired, especially in the Third World countries; and

Urges ICSU and the SCOSTEP member countries to do their utmost to help arrest and reverse any changes in data policy that are detrimental to cooperative research among the world scientific community.

International Social Science Council (ISSC)

General Assembly Social Science Data Management Policy, Paris, 1994:

The International Social Science Council calls upon . . . all ISSC Member Associations and Member Organizations of the ISSC, to join in an early and continuing commitment to the establishment, maintenance, validation, description, accessibility, and distribution of high-quality, long-term datasets in all of the social sciences. Specifically,

International Union of Radio Science (URSI)

Resolution on free access to environmental data, General Assembly, Kyoto, Japan, 1993


Aware of the idea growing in some quarters to consider environmental data as a market commodity, recognizing that such consideration could be acceptable when data are to be used for a commercial purpose,

Urges agencies that archive those data to warrant the access to environmental information for scientific purpose free of charge or at marginal cost.

World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE)

Data Policy And Practices, accepted by the WOCE Scientific Steering Group (SSG) in May 1990.

There is a fundamental trade-off in WOCE—on the one hand, the protection of the intellectual effort and time of originating investigators (those who plan an experiment, collect, calibrate, and process a data set to answer some questions about the ocean), and on the other hand the need to compare various data sets and data types to check their consistency, to better understand the ocean processes involved, and to see how well the numerical models describe the real ocean. The policy below is a trade-off between these conflicting needs.

Any data collected as part of WOCE should be made publicly available no later than 2 years (the publication-rights period) from collection, unless specifically waived by the SSG and funding agencies.


C. U.S. Governmental Organizations


U.S. Global Change Research Program

Data Management for Global Change Research Policy Statements, July 1991:

The overall purpose of these policy statements is to facilitate full and open access to quality data for global change research. They were prepared in consonance with the goal of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and represent the U.S. Government’s position on the access to global change research data.

US Landsat 7 Data Policy

Data Policy Plan, established by USGS and NOAA, October, 1994

As required by P.L. 102-555, this Data Policy Plan is designed to achieve the following:

The fundamental concept in the Landsat 7 data distribution policy is non-exclusivity. ¼ Access to Level OR data will be provided on a non-discriminatory basis to any requester within the technical limitations of the system. Although the USG retains ownership and all rights to the Level OR data, there will be no restrictions imposed by the USG on subsequent use, sale, or redistribution of data from Landsat 7.

Consistent with P.L. 102-555, Landsat data will be provided to all requesters on a non-discriminatory basis at the "cost of fulfilling user requests" (COFUR). COFUR is defined in P.L. 102-555 as "the incremental costs associated with providing product generation, reproduction, and distribution of unenhanced data in response to user requests and shall not include any acquisition, amortization, or depreciation of capital assets originally paid for by the United States Government or other costs not specifically attributable to fulfilling user requests."


D. U.S. non-governmental organizations


University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)

Statement on the Free International Exchange of Meteorological Data, 1995:

We believe that the free and open exchange of basic meteorological observations by all countries is essential to maintaining and improving the quality of meteorological and climatological services throughout the world. The long-standing policy of free exchange of data is an outstanding example of international cooperation for the benefit of all. Therefore, we strongly support the principle of free and open exchange of meteorological data and oppose attempts to place restrictions on this exchange.

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Policy Statement, 1997:

The importance of archiving and availability of geophysical data

Earth and space data must be collected and analyzed to understand the elements of our natural environment, how they interact, and how they change over time. AGU supports and encourages the full and open sharing of Earth and space science data for research and education. Such sharing enhances advancement of scientific and technical knowledge for education, economic advancement, public safety, and national and international security. Since measurements of geophysical quantities cannot in general be repeated, Earth and space data should be preserved, documented, and archived for future generations.

AGU extends this policy to data and derived products acquired with both public and private funding. AGU recognizes that there are constraints on the full and open exchange of data based on national security, commercial value, confidentiality, and historical disciplinary practice. When such data are not initially made public, they should be made available to the public as early as possible.

The responsibilities for implementing an effective data policy must be shared. The cost of collecting, processing, validating, and submitting data to an archive should be considered an integral part of research and operational programs. Governments and intergovernmental organizations have a responsibility to collate, archive, and distribute Earth and space data, and they should make it easy for users to identify and access datasets of interest. Toward greater ease of use, data archives should be complemented by adequate documentation of their holdings and by directories. Because datasets are often used for purposes other than those for which they were collected, documentation of data is as important as the data themselves. Of course, scientists and others acquiring Earth and space data also play an integral role in data preservation. They are responsible for promptly submitting data and documentation of their quality and conditions of their collection to a recognized data center. The marginal cost of data dissemination is a legitimate charge to the user.

Earth and space data are a national, and in many cases, an international resource. These data, properly documented and archived, will help future generations understand the system that comprises the Earth's interior, atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, and space environment.


E. References

Report on ICSU Activities in Data and Information, ICSU Ad Hoc Committee on Data Issues, CODATA, August, 1993.

Scientific Data Management Policy Statements, Appendix II in: Global Change of Planet Earth, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris, 1994.

On the full and open exchange of scientific data, Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data, National Research Council, Washington, DC, 1995.

Prepared by Ferris Webster,
University of Delaware
Chairman, ad-hoc Group on Data and Information
International Council for Science

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22 February, 2002