Skip to main content

DAAC Home > Data Management > DAAC Curation
Data Management for Data Providers
Click an arrow to follow the data management path of a dataset from planning to curation.

ORNL DAAC Curation Process

The ORNL DAAC primarily archives NASA-funded research data that are pertinent to the biogeochemical community. These data must be organized in well-formatted, described, and documented datasets. Normally the data have also been used in a peer-reviewed publication prior to archival.

What the ORNL DAAC provides

The dataset package released will consist of data files, a document describing the data and how it is to be used and cited, supplemental information to help understand and use the data. The DAAC also provides tools to assist in discovering, visualizing, subsetting, and accessing the data.

What the ORNL DAAC does with your data

Now that you have collected and managed your data, it is time to submit the data to the ORNL DAAC. The first step is an evaluation of the data by the DAAC, UWG, and ESDIS, to ensure that it is appropriate and relevant to the ORNL DAAC. If it is, the DAAC will provide access to a semi-automated system for the following steps in curation and release. Depending on the complexity of the data and the existing workload at the ORNL DAAC, this process can take 2 to 4 months.

five steps of the ingest process: inquire, submit, quality review, document, and release

The five steps of the curation process.


The data provider completes the Submit Data interest form and any related questions from the ORNL DAAC staff. After review, the DAAC will reply with archival decision.


The data provider submits the complete data and model products, including description documents and supplemental files, using the ORNL DAAC upload area. Data providers also answer questions about the dataset.

What a dataset contains

A dataset contains data that typically share the same investigator(s) and methods over possibly several sites or years.

Data files

Save your data in a well organized file structure using stable file formats and descriptive files names

Document(s) describing data

Provide detailed documentation to assist future workers using your dataset.

Supplemental files

Any files that are associated with your dataset should be included. Examples of supplemental material include published papers, field notes, a list of related datasets, or even an archived website.

Answers to data provider questions

You will be asked to fill out a short online form to help us better understand your dataset.

The questions can be previewed here: Data Provider Questions.

Quality Review

DAAC staff review the submitted data using our quality assurance checklist.

  • Files received as sent
  • Documentation describes files
  • Variables and units defined
  • File content is consistent
  • Parameter values are physically reasonable


DAAC staff prepare metadata for discovery and compile comprehensive documentation that is relevant for use 20 years from now. ORNL DAAC also generates citation and registers DOI for the dataset.

Release of archived data product

  • DAAC releases data product (data files, metadata, documentation) and distributes metadata to NASA EOSDIS clearing house and other relevant data catalogues
  • Provide tools to explore, access, and extract data
  • Advertise data through email, social media, and DAAC website

Over the longer term, the ORNL DAAC also

  • Provides long-term, secure archiving (back-up and recovery)
  • Addresses user questions, and serve as a buffer between users and data contributors
  • Provides usage statistics and data citation statistics

More details of our Data Management Best Practices can be found in Best Practices for Preparing Environmental Data Sets to Share and ArchivePDF, published by ORNL DAAC in 2010, and Environmental Data Management Best Practices Part 1 Tabular DataYouTube and Part 2 Geospatial DataYouTube, from the NASA Earthdata webinar series and presented by ORNL DAAC staff (hosted on YouTube).