Data Sharing and Distribution Policy


This document sets expectations and establishes procedures for sharing data acquired in through the operations of Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility. These data may be acquired from routine ARM-supported efforts or from collaborating or cooperating programs. When required and where the general policy below requires specific modifications, an individual data policy will be prepared for a given collaborative or cooperative effort.


ARM Climate Research Facility: ARM's field measurement sites, instruments, and data systems have been combined to establish a national user facility.

Campaign: A scheduled, collaborative field effort where an outside agency or program provides substantive resources toward the acquisition of a data set to meet a defined need.

Collaborating Program: A program joining with ARM to pursue a specific set of objectives by providing resources and participating in active planning and execution of the effort (e.g., a campaign or other joint effort).

Cooperating Program: A program or agency supporting a specific ARM effort, such as an intensive operational period (IOP), where ARM provides the resources.

Intensive Operational Period (IOP): A scheduled period of time when the frequency of observations is changed to augment ARM routine observations or to satisfy a particular data requirement.

Near-Real Time: When referred to in textual references, the ARM conception of "near-real time" is "with a few hours delay."

Preliminary Data: Data that have not necessarily been subjected to review, quality control and/or documentation by a responsible investigator. "Preliminary Data" are not considered publishable without the coordination and concurrence of the responsible investigator. Generally applicable only to IOP or campaign efforts where data sources beyond routine ARM data are being acquired.

Quality Assured Data: Typically the final form of data to be submitted to the ARM data system. This includes data stream description documentation, fully calibrated data in commonly used geophysical units, quality flagged data files and all ancillary data (metadata) needed by a future user of the data stream to make full sense of it.

Quality Measurement Experiment (QME): The regular intercomparison of two or more data sets intended to understand the individual datastreams either as functions of the performance of an instrument or the accuracy of a model prediction.


Data acquired during field measurement programs are typically designed to satisfy specific research objectives, but are often valuable for other purposes. Early intercomparison of related data leads to improved understanding of instrument performance and improvements in the observational datastream. Scientists not directly involved in the acquisition of the primary data benefit by timely access to recently acquired data to accelerate their own research programs and can benefit the field program by feedback on data quality or improved observational strategies. Advanced instruments, particularly remote sensing instruments, often require frequent intercomparison to related data to ensure the highest quality data are acquired and distributed. Early sharing of all available data helps ensure that the full benefit from extensive field programs involving many new or improved instruments can be realized. The ARM Facility is intended to address many of these requirements by providing ready access to a continuously acquired research quality data set.

The ARM data policy is designed to achieve several specific objectives:

  1. Establish a data policy in full compliance with the spirit of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
  2. Accelerate the research process by providing timely access to data to facilitate early publication of results.
  3. Validate high accuracy measurements through timely intercomparison and/or the establishment of quality measurement experiments.

With respect to publishing data, ARM's electronic technical report series is an appropriate mechanism to publish "data" and "analytical results" not being published in a journal.

Data Policy of U.S. Global Change Research Program

The U.S. Global Change Research Program data policy requirements as taken from the USGCRP website at URL are:

  1. Continuing commitment to the establishment, maintenance, validation, description, accessibility, and distribution of high-quality, long-term data sets.
  2. Full and open sharing of the full suite of global data sets for all global change researchers.
  3. Preservation of all data needed for long-term global change research.
  4. Data archives that include easily accessible information about the data holdings, including quality assessments, supporting ancillary information, and guidance and aids for locating and obtaining the data.
  5. Use of national and international standards to the greatest extent possible.
  6. Provision of data at the lowest possible cost to global change researchers in the interest of full and open data access.
  7. For programs in which selected principal investigators have initial periods of exclusive data use, data should be made openly available as soon as they become widely useful. In each case, the funding agency should explicitly define the duration of any exclusive use period.

ARM Data Sharing Policy

The basic tenets of the ARM data sharing policy are:

  1. "Free and open" sharing of data.
  2. Timely delivery of processed data from the ARM Data Archive to the infrastructure staff and collaborating science team members. Timely is defined as "near real time" as in within hours typically of collection.
  3. Timely access to data by the general scientific community through the ARM Data Archive. Timely is defined typically as "days" for routine processing, housekeeping and archival of data from electronically accessible instrument sites.
  4. Timely sharing of all data among various participants in ARM-sponsored programs.
  5. Recognition of data sources either through co-authorship or acknowledgments as appropriate.
  6. Sharing of data of common interest from external sources when possible; some sources restrict secondary distribution of data. In these cases, ARM will seek specific allowances to distribute such data to members of the Atmospheric System Research (ASR) Science Team, but will observe restrictions on further distribution from the ARM Data Archive if required.

Routine Observational Data Specifics

  1. All routine observational data will be made available to collaborating science team members with a minimum delay following data collection and automated data quality assessment.
  2. At remote locations, data may be locally stored and retrieved periodically on storage media. Data will be made available as soon as possible after retrieval and following initial quality control by site scientists and processing by the Data Management Facility.
  3. In some cases, summary data files may be sent to the Data Management Facility for the purpose of data quality assessment and appear on the Data Quality Office website. These data should not be used for any purposes other than qualitative.
  4. All quality-controlled data are freely publishable upon receipt.

Intensive Operational Period and Campaign Data Specifics

General Guidelines

  1. Routine observational data protocol remains the same.
  2. ARM-sponsored data will be released in the general spirit of the basic tenets of the ARM Facility:
    • Free and open access.
    • Immediate processing and sharing by Principal Investigators (PIs) in the field, if at all possible.
    • Timely release to collborating science teams and general scientific community through the ARM data system.
  3. Collaborating programs are encouraged to follow the ARM data protocols of timely release and free and open sharing.
  4. All data to be submitted to the ARM data system will be accompanied by full documentation in accordance with the Data Management and Documentation Plan.
  5. Planning for IOPs and campaigns will include specific plans for data reduction, evaluation and publication.


  1. All IOP and campaign participants will have early access to all data acquired. Direct transfer of preliminary data in the field may be necessary, but to the extent possible, ARM will arrange common electronic sharing mechanisms. Preliminary data are defined as not quality controlled or documented by the investigator and should not be considered publishable without coordination with the responsible investigator.
  2. ARM data are available to all participants on a free and open basis and are publishable upon receipt with acknowledgment of ARM as the source.
  3. Data originating from ARM-funded sources during IOPs will be quality assured and released to the ARM External Data Center as soon as possible after collection, but no later than 6 months from the date of completion of the IOP or campaign. When released to the ARM External Data Center, data are considered publishable, but users are cautioned to confirm data version with the originator before publication.
  4. For data originating from non-ARM funded sources, it is desirable for that data to be quality assured and released to the ARM External Data Center within 4 months from the completion of the IOP or campaign, if possible, but not later than 6 months. At the time data are transmitted to the External Data Center, they are considered publishable, but users are cautioned to confirm data version with the originator before publication. The website campaign summary will list points of contact for submitted data.
  5. The ARM External Data Center and Archive will track data versions and ensure latest data versions are made available to data recipients.
  6. IOP and campaign participants may release their own preliminary data to whomever they wish and preliminary data of other investigators with consent from the data's originator.
  7. All data sets acquired during an IOP or campaign will be made available to the ARM External Data Center for dissemination to users and forwarding to the ARM Data Archive.
  8. Non-participants in an IOP or campaign who wish to use the IOP or campaign data set are encouraged to enlist the collaboration of a participant in the field activity.

Data Attribution and Publication

Early publication of research and analysis results is a key objective of the ARM Climate Research Facility. The following principles are established to encourage or facilitate early publication.

  1. All routine ARM data are freely publishable upon receipt.
  2. ARM and non-ARM data will be shared in the field as preliminary data; these data will not be considered publishable.
  3. The automatic inclusion of a data originator as a co-author is not insisted upon in ARM, but the source of any data should be clearly recognized either as a co-author or through an appropriate acknowledgment.
  4. The field campaign lead scientist will prepare a summary of the IOP/campaign for posting on the ARM website. This summary will include a listing of available data and URLs as appropriate. An initial summary will be posted following the IOP or campaign and updated on a timely basis as data are made available. A final summary report will be prepared and accessible through the IOP web page within six months of the completion of the IOP. For those few data sets not yet submitted or fully documented by the PI, a schedule for data/documentation delivery will be given.
  5. Data originating from ARM and non-ARM funded sources during field campaigns will be quality assured by the originators and submitted to the ARM Data Archive through the External Data Center as soon as possible or within the constraints of the IOP guidelines. Upon transmission to the External Data Center, data are considered publishable; users are cautioned to confirm data versions with originators before publication.
  6. The U.S. Department of Energy ARM Climate Research Facility should be acknowledged in publications as the programmatic origin of the field program. Publications resulting from collaborative efforts in which ARM data or facilities were used are requested to also appropriately acknowledge the cooperation or collaboration with "U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility [XXX sites, data, specific campaign data] were used." ARM-funded investigators will use the following acknowledgment: "This research was supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy (under grant or contract number - if appropriate) as part of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility." PIs providing non-routine data will be acknowledged as appropriate.
  7. Proper acknowledgment should be given to cooperating or collaborating programs in those cases where data originating therein are being used.