Making USGS Science Data more open, accessible, and usable: Leveraging ScienceBase for Success


In 2013, the White House released initiatives requiring federally funded research to be made publicly available and machine readable. In response, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been developing a unified approach to make USGS data available and open. This effort has involved the establishment of internal policies and the release of a Public Access Plan, which outlines a strategy for the USGS to move forward into the modern era in scientific data management.

Originally designed as a catalog and collaborative data management platform, ScienceBase ( is being leveraged to serve as a robust data hosting solution for USGS researchers to make scientific data accessible. With the goal of maintaining persistent access to formal data products and developing a management approach to facilitate stable data citation, the ScienceBase Data Release Team was established to ensure the quality, consistency, and meaningful organization of USGS data through standardized workflows and best practices. These practices include the creation and maintenance of persistent identifiers for data, improving the use of open data formats, establishing permissions for read/write access, validating the quality of standards compliant metadata, verifying that data have been reviewed and approved prior to release, and connecting to external search catalogs such as the USGS Science Data Catalog ( and

The ScienceBase team is actively building features to support this effort by automating steps to streamline the process, building metrics to track site visits and downloads, and connecting published digital resources in line with USGS and Federal policy. By utilizing ScienceBase to achieve stewardship quality and employing a dedicated team to help USGS scientists improve the quality of their data, the USGS is helping to meet today’s data quality management challenges and ensure that reliable USGS data are available to and reusable for the public.  

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