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Data Use Policies

What are Data Use Policies

A dataset is considered to consist of data resulting from a single research project. A dataset is considered to be incomplete without accompanying documentation (metadata) that provides all information necessary to evaluate the quality of the data and to make use of it in future research activities.

Publication of a dataset is to make it available to the broader research community.


Classes of Data

Public Data

Most CAP LTER datasets generated by LTER-sponsored projects will fall into this category including:

  • All long-term monitoring data associated with core research areas
  • All metadata documentation for all LTER data (including restricted datasets)

Restricted Data

Restricted data are exceptional datasets that are available only with permission from the PI/investigator(s). These are rare in occurrence and justification for restrictions will be well documented by the lead PI and site data manager.

  • Datasets generated by thesis research of graduate students who may not be held responsible for the above policy for publication of data
  • Datasets in which some or all of the data are subject to copyright restrictions imposed by non-LTER institutions

Timetable for Release of Data

Public Data

These data will be documented and made freely available within a reasonable time after collection. The target time frame for public datasets will be generally two years. Some datasets will require more effort than others to be prepared and thus may be expected to take longer. A target release data will be specified in the project research design.

  • Core monitoring data – two years from collection
  • Special research data associated with core research activities – two-three years from collection

Restricted Data

The terms and time table for publication of restricted data will be stated in the research design for the individual project. Exceptions to the time table for public data will be noted and justified. Metadata descriptions for these data are treated as public data subject to flexible timetables.

Media and Format for Release of LTER Data


All public datasets and accompanying metadata will be made available for query and download via an interactive application running on the CAP LTER web site. These datasets will be indexed in the CAP LTER data catalog, whose entries are repeated in the main LTERNET data catalog. Completion and maintenance of the internet data publication will constitute satisfaction of the publication requirement for datasets and metadata.

Removable Media

Certain datasets may be compiled and released on CD-ROM, or similar removable media. This will be done on a case-by-case basis, depending on funding, need, and applicability of the medium to dissemination of data.

User Registration

Users of LTER data will be requested to complete a short user registration form and to “sign in” each time they access data from the CAP LTER database. Users will access this form during the download process. The purpose of user registration is to ensure that the user has viewed the CAP LTER guidelines for acceptable use and has indicated his/her acceptance of those guidelines.

Registration will neither impair access to public data nor result in a charge for access. It is implemented merely as a courtesy to the intellectual rights of those who generated the data. Infomation collected will include name, institution, and contact information. A free user account will be created to avoid having to fill out the registration information for repeat visits.


Contact: CAP Information Manager

Guidelines for Acceptable Use of LTER Data

  • While CAP LTER will make every effort possible to control and document the quality of the data it publishes, the data are made available “as is.” CAP LTER cannot assume responsibility for damages resulting from misuse or misinterpretation of datasets or from errors or omissions that may exist in the data.
  • It is considered a matter of professional ethics to acknowledge the work of other scientists that has resulted in data used in subsequent research. CAP LTER expects that any use of data from this server will be accompanied with the appropriate citations and acknowledgments.
  • CAP LTER encourages users to contact the original investigator responsible for the data that they are accessing. Where appropriate, researchers whose projects are integrally dependent on CAP LTER data are encouraged to consider collaboration and/or co-authorship with original investigators.
  • CAP LTER requests that users submit to the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, PO Box 875402, Tempe, AZ 85287-5402, one copy of any publication resulting from the use of data obtained from this site.
  • CAP LTER requests that users not redistribute data obtained from this site. However, links or references to this site may be freely posted.