Sevilleta Data Access Policy

Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Data Access Policy

The Sevilleta LTER data policy includes three specific sections designed to express shared network policies regarding the release of Sevilleta LTER data products, user registration for accessing data, and the licensing agreements specifying the conditions for data use. 

Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Data Release Policy

Data and information derived from publicly funded research at the Sevilleta LTER, totally or partially from Sevilleta LTER funds from NSF, Institutional Cost-Share, or Partner Agency or Institution where a formal memoradum of understanding with the Sevilleta LTER has been established, are made available online with as few restrictions as possible, on a nondiscriminatory basis. Sevilleta LTER scientists should make every effort to release data in a timely fashion and with attention to accurate and complete metadata. 


There are two data types:

Type 1 - data are to be released to the general public according to the terms of the general data use agreement (see below) within 2 years from collection and no later than the publication of the main findings.

Type 2 - data are not freely available and these data are to be released to restricted audiences according to terms specified by the owners of the data.  Type 2 data are considered to be exceptional and should be rare in occurence. Researchers that make use of Type 2 data may be subject to additional restrictions to protect any applicable commercial or confidentiality interests. Type 2 status will be assigned to electronic data that meet one or more of the conditions listed below. These data are restricted access based on specific justifications provided by the Principle Investigator. Conditions justifying Type 2 status include:

  • Data contains sensitive information about, for instance, human subjects, location of archeological ruins or artifacts, or locations of threatened or endangered species. 
  • Data are covered by copyright laws (e.g., ADAR satellite imagery). 
  • The quality of the data is questionable, because quality control/assurance has not yet been completed or the dataset is a "legacy" dataset for which little documentation is available. Requests for legacy datasets should be accompanied by a proposal for improving the quality of these datasets. 
  • The data was collected by a graduate student, post-doc, or other individual whose professional development might be compromised if their data were used by others before they have had the opportunity to publish it first. 

While the spirit of this document is to promote maximum availability for ecologcial data in either Type 1 or 2 status, there are criteria by which priority for data release may be determined. Primary observations collected for core research activities directly supported by Sevilleta LTER research must receive the highest priority for data release.  Data collected by other sources to which LTER supported research has added value is also a high priority.  Some data may be determined of lowest priority for archiving on the grounds that they are interim data that led to final products that carry the scientific value.  These might include data files created during stages within an analytic workflow, raw or replicate data values that were subsequently aggregated or processed for release, or individual outputs from stochastic models. 


1. Metadata documenting archived/online datasets of all types listed above will be made available when, or before, the dataset itself is released according to the terms above.

2. All metadata will be publicly available regardless of any restrictions on access to the data.

3. All metadata will follow Sevilleta LTER recommended standards and will minimally contain adequate information on proper citation, access, contact information, and discovery.  Complete information including methods, structure, semantics, and quality control/assurance is expected for most datasets and is strongly encouraged. 

Sevilleta LTER data Access Requirements

The access to all Sevilleta LTER data is subject to requirements set forth by this policy document to enable data providers to track usage, evaluate its impact in the community, and confirm users' acceptance of the terms of acceptable use.  These requirements are standardized across the LTER Network to provide contractual exchange of data between Site Data providers, Network Data Providers, and Data users that can be encoded into electronic form and exchanged between computers.  This will allow direct access to data via a common portal once these requirements have been fulfilled.  The following information may be required directly or by proxy prior to the transference of any data object:


1. Name

2. Affiliation

3. Email address

4. Full Contact Information

  • Acceptance of the General Public Use Agreement or Restricted Data Use Agreement, as applicable.
  • A Statement of Intended Use that is compliant with the above agreements. Such statements may be submitted explicitly or made implicitly via the data access portal interface. 

Data Use Agreements

Datasets released by the Sevilleta LTER will be accompanied with a use agreement that specifies the conditions for data use.  For Type 1 data, this shall be the General Data Use Agreement (see below).  This document specifies general roles and the obligations and rights enjoyed by each regarding the use of most datasets released for general public use.  For Type 2 datasets, a Restricted Data Use Agreement must be provided with the dataset that identifies the specific restrictions on the use of the data and their justification.  Because these are expected to be unique to the dataset, no template is provided although in most cases the General Data Use Agreement can be modified to serve.  Grounds for restricting data may include the need to restrict access to species, habitats or cultural resources protected by legislation; rights of privacy granted by human subjects legislation; or protection of intellectual, financial or legal rights over the data held by a third party.  This policy becomes effective when approved by the Sevilleta LTER. It may be revised by, or at the request of, the same body. 

General Data use Agreement


"Dataset"- Digital data and its metadata derived from any research activity such as field observations, collections, laboratory analyses, experiments, or the post-processing of existing data and identified by a unique identifier issued by a recognized cataloging authority such as a site, university, agency, or other organization.

"Data User"- Individual to whom access has been granted to this Dataset, including his or her immediate collaboration sphere, defined here as the institutions, partners, students and staff with whom the Data User collaborates, and with whom access must be granted, in order to fulfill the Data User's intended use of the Dataset.

"Dataset Creator"- Individual or institution that produced the Dataset.

"Dataset Owner" - Individual or institution that holds intellectual property rights to the Dataset. Note that this may or may not be defined as a legal copyright. If no other party is designated in the metadata as Dataset Owner, it may be presumed that these rights are held by the Dataset Creator.

"Dataset Distributor" - Individual or institution providing access to the Datasets.

"Dataset Contact"- Party designated in the accompanying metadata of the Dataset as the primary contact for the Dataset.

Conditions of Use

The re-use of scientific data has the potential to greatly increase communication, collaboration and synthesis within and among disciplines, and thus is fostered, supported and encouraged. Permission to use this dataset is granted to the Data User free of charge subject to the following terms:

1) Acceptable use. Use of the dataset will be restricted to academic, research, educational, government, recreational, or other not-for-profit professional purposes. The Data User is permitted to produce and distribute derived works from this Dataset provided that they are released under the same license terms as those accompanying this Dataset. Any other uses for the Dataset or its derived products will require explicit permission from the Dataset Owner.

2 ) Redistribution. The data are provided for use by the Data User. The metadata and this license must accompany all copies made and be available to all users of this Dataset. The Data User will not redistribute the original Dataset beyond this collaboration sphere.

3 ) Citation. It is considered a matter of professional ethics to acknowledge the work of other scientists. Thus, the Data User will properly cite the Dataset in any publications or in the metadata of any derived data products that were produced using the Dataset. Citation should take the following general form: Creator, Year of Data Publication, Title of Dataset, Publisher, Dataset identifier. For example:

Muldavin, E. 2004. Sevilleta LTER Fertilizer NPP Study Dataset. Albuquerque, NM: Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research Site Database: SEV155. (28 July 2005)

4 ) Acknowledgement. The Data User should acknowledge any institutional support or specific funding awards referenced in the metadata accompanying this Dataset in any publications where the Dataset contributed significantly to its content. Acknowledgements should identify the supporting party, the party that received the support, and any identifying information such as grant numbers. For example:

Data sets were provided by the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. Significant funding for collection of these data was provided by the National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research program (NSF Grant numbers BSR 88-11906, DEB 9411976, DEB 0080529 and DEB 0217774).

5 ) Notification. The Data User will notify the Dataset Contact when any derivative work or publication based on or derived from the Dataset is distributed. The Data User will provide the data contact with two reprints of any publications resulting from use of the Dataset and will provide copies, or online access to, any derived digital products. Notification will include an explanation of how the Dataset was used to produce the derived work. Reprints should be sent to: Sevilleta LTER Information Manager, Department of Biology Castetter Hall Rm. 167, University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131.

6 ) Collaboration. The Dataset has been released in the spirit of open scientific collaboration. Data Users are thus strongly encouraged to consider consultation, collaboration and/or co-authorship with the Dataset Creator.

By accepting this Dataset, the Data User agrees to abide by the terms of this agreement. The Data Owner shall have the right to terminate this agreement immediately by written notice upon the Data User's breach of, or non-compliance with, any of its terms. The Data User may be held responsible for any misuse that is caused or encouraged by the Data User's failure to abide by the terms of this agreement.


While substantial efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of data and documentation contained in this Dataset, complete accuracy of data and metadata cannot be guaranteed. All data and metadata are made available "as is". The Data User holds all parties involved in the production or distribution of the Dataset harmless for damages resulting from its use or interpretation.

This data policy was updated July 29, 2005 in accordance with the "LTER Network Data Access Policy". The policy is based on that of the Andrews LTER.