Protocols and Policy for NERC ARF Digital and Photographic Data

Data acquired by the NERC ARF on behalf of users, be it digital spectrographic or photographic, is subject to the constraints of NERC Data Policy. This Policy regards datasets as being owned by NERC and valuable resources in their own right, and seeks to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from such datasets by means of wide exploitation.

Duplicate sets of all NERC ARF data acquired and delivered to users are thus archived by the NERC Earth Observation Data Centre (NEODC), and are ultimately accessible to the environmental research community.

Data Protocol

The NERC ARF (like all NERC Facilities) is required to justify its existence in terms of its contribution to the support of environmental science. Successful applicants for NERC ARF support must agree to the following terms:

  • Support provided through the NERC ARF (and NERC) will at least be acknowledged in all relevant publications.
  • Data acquired by the NERC ARF are not the sole property of the applicant, but are jointly owned with NERC. Principal Investigators are entitled to exclusive access to NERC ARF data for a reasonable period (normally 2 years) although a case can be made for a longer period if necessary. After that period, the data will be available to users via the NEODC and data ownership claimed in total by NERC. However, within the exclusive period, access by other users to datasets and photography may be possible with the agreement of the PI.
  • Publications are the prime indicator of science supported by the NERC ARF and is an important performance indicator by which the value of the Facility to the scientific community is judged. PIs in receipt of NERC ARF data are required to supply bibliographic references and/or copies of publications (including PhD theses and non-refereed publications) deriving from such support.

Formal NERC Data Policy Statement

Below is a formal NERC Data Policy statement.

A: Data Acquisition

With regard to the acquisition of data, the NERC:

  1. regards datasets as a valuable resource in their own right;
  2. will ensure that the maximum benefits are derived from data acquired by NERC;
  3. requires that due consideration be given to the ‘post-project’ stewardship of data prior to approval being given for a ‘project’;
  4. will establish, at the outset, how the data acquired as a result of such projects will be exploited (whether commercially or scientifically); who will be responsible for this exploitation; and how the benefits will be shared;
  5. requires that recipients of NERC grants offer to deposit with NERC a copy of datasets resulting from the research supported, for use by other bona fide researchers, but without prejudice to the intellectual property rights;
  6. requires that processed data sets derived from NERC’s data, which were provided on ‘academic’ terms, be offered to NERC.

B: Data Management

In managing its data holdings, the NERC will:

  1. have defined points of contact associated with its Designated Data Centres, with which agreements must be reached as part of the planning for any new activities which generate new datasets, so that the full implications (including any commitments on the Designated Data Centres or requirements for IT infrastructure) can be established at the outset;
  2. use these defined points of contact to publicise its data, providing a means whereby the environmental science community can find out what information it can obtain, and on what terms;
  3. facilitate access by customers to NERC data holdings;
  4. publicise its intention to put at risk or destroy data, before doing so, when it is considered that the cost of keeping datasets outweighs the apparent benefits;
  5. determine the costs relating to data management, once data have been collected.

C: Data use

With regard to the use of data, the NERC will:

  1. ensure that individual scientists, principal investigator teams and participants in programmes will be permitted a reasonable period to work exclusively on, and publish the results of, the data collected by such individuals and teams;
  2. exchange data for research purposes where it is clear that the research will lead to a contribution to knowledge within NERC’s remit, or to benefits in kind;
  3. regard data as a potentially tradeable asset for reciprocal exchange agreements between Research Councils, between NERC and UK Government Departments, and between NERC and non-UK organisations, without prejudice to current contractual arrangements; and
  4. specify formally any restrictions on the use of data in formal licensing agreements.

D: Charging for Access to NERC’s Data

Recognising the value of data as a resource, but mindful of the manner of its acquisition, the NERC will:

  1. not charge partners in data acquisition for unprocessed data;
  2. consider whether or not a charge should be made where NERC has analysed, interpreted, or generally added value to the data;
  3. charge* for the provision of data at a rate that is dependent on the use to which the data will be put;
  4. specify formally any consequent restrictions on the use of data in formal licensing agreements;
  5. enable access to data by bona fide scientific researchers at no more than the direct costs involved (nominal handling charge) or at an appropriately discounted rate;
  6. encourage access to basic catalogues and indexes of NERC data, for which only direct costs will be charged; but
  7. market software-based catalogues, supplied in machine readable form, in their own right.

* or accept ‘payment in kind’ e.g. exchange