EOL Data Policy

NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) fosters and promotes the progress of science and engineering by providing simple and timely access to all data collected by EOL platforms and instrumentation during a scientific field campaign. EOL’s Data Policy follows the open data guidelines set forth by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)1 and by NCAR’s sponsor, the National Science Foundation (NSF)2 .  


In the context of scientific field campaigns supported by EOL instrumentation and platforms, EOL commits to the following:

  1. Collection of high quality, research-grade observational data on behalf of NSF and its user community.
  2. Timely release of quality-controlled EOL data and associated metadata and documentation.  
  3. Full and open data sharing of all EOL data with the scientific community and public. 

Data Access and Distribution

  • Project teams associated with a scientific field campaign will have access to preliminary EOL data while in the field. At the conclusion of each field campaign, EOL will provide access to the initial set of preliminary EOL data via a centralized, password protected location.  Preliminary, non-quality-controlled data will not be released outside of a project team unless required for quality assurance purposes.
  • Quality-controlled EOL data and associated metadata and documentation will be released within no more than six months after the conclusion of a field campaign, unless otherwise indicated. 
  • While generally discouraged, a project team may be granted exclusive rights to the use of all data collected by EOL platforms and instrumentation during a scientific field campaign for a period of up to one year after the last day of the project. Exclusive rights in the form of data restrictions apply to project teams as a single class.  Data restriction must be specifically requested in writing from the EOL Director stating the reason for exception no later than two months ahead of a field campaign. 
  • EOL maintains rights for immediate access and use of all EOL data collected during field campaigns for instrument evaluation, data quality assurance, calibration procedures, technique/product development, and attendant publications.
  • EOL scientists and engineers who are co-investigators on the project team may also use data for scientific research and publications before data is made widely available to the research community. 

Data Archive

  • EOL supports easy access to and long-term data archives for all EOL platform and project data. Access will be maintained for at least ten years, limited only by available resources.  After the ten-year period, data will generally remain available to the extent possible, but software for access, processing and analysis may become unsupported. 
  • EOL will maintain archived data in community-accepted data formats.  Users submitting third-party data to the EOL archive are required to conform to those data formats and to provide proper documentation.
  • Independent of the actual funding source, EOL will archive and maintain all data collected by EOL instruments for eventual public release consistent with EOL and NSF policies.
  • EOL collects user information through its data archive portals for the sole purpose of notifying users of problems found in downloaded data sets and to support use metrics.

Acknowledgements and Publications

  • Users of EOL data are expected to add the following acknowledgement to all of their publications, reports and conference papers that use those data: “We would like to acknowledge operational, technical and scientific support provided by NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.”
  • Users of EOL data are expected to add an EOL-provided data citation string to all their publications, reports and conference papers that use those data.  The data citation string, which will be sent by EOL to each user requesting those data, will include two EOL-created, unique Digital Object Identifiers (DOI).  One DOI will be assigned to the EOL platform/instrument that was used to collect the data and a separate DOI will be assigned to the final, quality-controlled EOL dataset resulting from a field campaign. 
  • Project teams are encouraged to seek collaboration with EOL scientific and engineering staff in the evaluation of EOL data, scientific analyses, and publications where appropriate.


  • Data from PI-provided instrumentation that is co-deployed with an EOL platform is not governed by this policy unless EOL is responsible for data archival and distribution. Such instrument data may be ruled by a specific field project data policy.
  • EOL platform data that is collected as part of a project funded by an agency other than NSF (“cost recovery”) is governed by the data policy of the sponsoring agency, provided that such a policy is acceptable to the NSF and EOL.

[1] John Holdren Memo (22 February 2013)

[2] NSF Directorate for Geosciences Data Policies


For more information contact EOL directly at eol-archive@ucar.edu.