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Publish Your Data with ORNL DAAC

The ORNL DAAC manages scientific data in order to make these data accessible and useful to researchers, today and tomorrow. This document outlines our data publication policies and standards. The content here is a guide for data providers and authors of data.

There are many benefits to publishing your data in an open data repository. You get credit for archived data products and their subsequent use. The DAAC's process of QA and documentation adds value and may catch errors in your data. Collaborators can readily understand and use your data both in the near future and in the long-term. Sponsors protect their investment. And scientists outside your project can find, understand, and use your data to address broad questions.

Start here to submit your dataset to the ORNL DAAC:

Submit Data Form

Data Scope and Acceptance Policy

Toggle Data Scope and Acceptance Policy

Assigned missions and programs

The ORNL DAAC archives data and model products that were generated with funding from the NASA Terrestrial Ecology program and other programs within the NASA Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems  Focus area. Current missions and programs include:

  • ABoVE: Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment
  • GEDI: Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation
  • Delta-X
  • AVIRIS-C and AVIRIS-NG: Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer -Classic and -Next Generation
  • MASTER: MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator
  • SHIFT: SBG High Frequency Time series
  • MAAP: Multi-Mission Algorithm and Analysis Platform
  • CARAFE: CARbon Atmospheric Flux Experiment
  • ESDR-SIF: Earth System Data Record (ESDR) for quantifying global vegetation solar induced fluorescence (SIF), funded under Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) 2017
  • COMEX: CO2 and Methane Experiment
  • CMS: Carbon Monitoring System (as funding allows)
  • NACP: North American Carbon Program
  • Other products funded by NASA Terrestrial Ecology program
  • Other missions, programs, and special projects as assigned by NASA

Data acceptance

All submitted data are reviewed based on the missions and programs listed above, the scientific impact and community need, and appropriate use of DAAC resources before being accepted into the archive. The ORNL DAAC User Working Group, ESDIS , and DAAC staff review may recommend a different data archive center.

Other data archives include:

Data to accompany a journal publication

Many journals now require that data associated with a manuscript be archived before the manuscript can be reviewed. For the missions and projects assigned to the ORNL DAAC, we can publish a preprint dataset, using documentation supplied by the data provider. Preprint datasets are considered provisional data products, while the ORNL DAAC completes quality assurance and works with the data provider to finalize the data publication.

Data Authorship Policy

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Data authors

We consider a data publication to be a first-class research product. As such, the author list should include anyone who contributed substantially to the data collection, processing, and analysis. The data author list may not necessarily be the same as a related journal publication. A person who made a minimal contribution to the data, or who contributed only to a paper that used or analyzed the data, should not be listed as an author. Gathering funds for the project, paying salaries, providing a conducive environment, or being the spokesperson are not activities that warrant authorship without a significant contribution to the scientific content of the data. The ORNL DAAC will provide an acknowledgement in the dataset documentation in these cases.

Read more about scientific authorship:

McNutt, M.K, et al. 2018. Transparency in author contributions and responsibilities to promote integrity in scientific publication. PNAS. 115(11): 2557-2560.

Instructions for Data Providers

Toggle Instructions for Data Providers

1. Start your data submission

If you are interested in archiving data products, start here: Submit Data Form. Data inquiries will be reviewed and a decision will be sent to you by email within a few days.

2. Submit your data and documentation

You will receive an email from our data submission system with instructions on how to upload your data files and supplemental files, including description documents and any associated papers, to the ORNL DAAC system. Please follow the Detailed Submission Guidelines . You will also be asked to answer a few Data Provider Questions about the data.

Please provide a full list of the data authors following ORNL DAAC Data Authorship Policy .

Submission Help is available for in progress submissions.

3. DAAC performs data quality review and writes documentation

DAAC staff will review the submitted data using our Data Quality Review Checklist.

DAAC staff will also prepare metadata and comprehensive documentation about your data. Spatial data may be added to our Spatial Data Access Tool, and NetCDF-format data may be added to our OPeNDAP data service. ORNL DAAC also generates a citation and registers a DOI for the dataset.

If any questions arise during the QA and documentation of your dataset, you must respond to inquiries in a timely manner. If you do not respond, the DAAC will place the data submission on hold.

4. Review the data and documentation

When the data and documentation are ready, you will be asked to review and approve the final data package before it is released online.

5. Publication

The DAAC will publish the data package and distribute metadata to the NASA EOSDIS clearinghouse and other relevant data catalogues. The ORNL DAAC also advertises the data online through email, social media, and the DAAC website.

6. Long-term data stewardship

Over the longer-term, the ORNL DAAC also:

  • Provides tools to explore, access, and extract data
  • Provides long-term, secure archiving (back-up and recovery)
  • Addresses user questions, and serves as a buffer between users and data contributors
  • Provides usage & download statistics and data citation statistics

Detailed Submission Guidelines

Toggle Detailed Submission Guidelines

Files expected in a dataset submission:

  • Data files
  • Supplemental files (including photos, reports, or metadata)
  • Documentation
  • Code (if applicable)
  • Published paper or manuscript draft (if applicable)

Data files

Include all the files representing a complete, and reproducible, body of work. When possible, field or input data should be included alongside higher-level, derived products. Uncertainty estimates (such as standard deviation or confidence estimates) should be included with the data, if available. Datasets consisting of summary statistics only will not be accepted.

The ORNL DAAC accepts data in the following formats:

  • Spatial data: GeoTIFF, NetCDF, HDF, shapefile, or KML/KMZ
  • Tabular data: comma-separated values (CSV) format. Excel files will not be accepted.

During the QA process, DAAC staff may recommend that you convert your data into another format to take advantage of data tools and services offered by the DAAC. Use a consistent system of data organization throughout the entire dataset and follow standards and best practices.

Supplemental files

Include any additional files that are associated with your dataset, such as photos, reports, Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD), or metadata files.


Data documentation should be uploaded with the data files. Documentation should include:

  • Name of the dataset
  • What data were collected and the scientific reason why the data were collected
  • Who collected the data and whom to contact with questions (include email and website if appropriate)
  • Who funded the investigation (award/grant numbers)
  • When and how frequently the data were collected
  • Where and with what spatial resolution the data were collected
  • Name(s) of the data file(s) or explanation of the file-naming convention
  • Definition of all parameters, variables, abbreviations, and missing or no-data values
  • Date the dataset was last modified
  • Methods: How each parameter was measured or produced, units of measure, data format, precision and accuracy, and relationship to other data in the dataset
  • What instruments, standards or calibrations were used
  • The data processing that was performed, including screening
  • The lineage (provenance) of the data, if it was derived from existing data
  • Describe the quality assurance and quality control that have been applied
  • Known problems that limit the data's use (e.g., uncertainty, sampling problems, blanks, QC samples)
  • References to published papers, including DOI where available, describing the collection and/or analysis of the data

We recommend using our Data Provider Documentation Template.

Code or Scripts

You may wish to archive scripts designed to operate on your data. The ORNL DAAC also archives model products that contain the methodological detail of numerical modeling studies. Because numerical models evolve continuously over time, an archived version of a model should include:

  • Model code
  • Documentation including model name and version, model process representation and, as appropriate, a description of model lineage
  • Sample input & output

Published paper or manuscript draft

Publication of a paper is not required for data archival at ORNL DAAC. However, if your data were used in a paper, including it in the data submission will help our staff to understand and document your data. We will not share the paper or post it online.

Submission Help is available for in progress submissions.