MARGINS Data Policy

Released June 30, 2005

For more information on MARGINS data management, please see:
The Marine Geoscience Data Management System

Download the MARGINS Data Policy as a PDF Document

The various data policies for OCE, EAR, IODP, UNAVCO, and PASSCAL/IRIS

NSF-OCE and NSF-EAR require the preservation of all data, samples, physical collections, curriculum materials and related research and education materials deriving from NSF funding, as well as the rapid archiving and dissemination of data. MARGINS data need to be quickly released and available to all researchers in order to maximize technology transfer across the program, encourage integration of science within and across the initiatives, facilitate coordination of research, and permit construction and testing of hypotheses. The MARGINS Data Management System (DMS) will serve as a requisite archive for all MARGINS metadata, with linkages to other approved data repositories for selected data types. In accepting support from the NSF-MARGINS program, each Principal Investigator is obligated to meet the following data-management requirements:


  • Basic metadata (e.g., data types, sample types and locations, cruise navigation, etc.) must be provided to the MARGINS DMS within 60 days of the end of a field program. Digital metadata forms are now available for downloading from the MARGINS DMS website ( and should be used by all MARGINS funded PIs during their field programs. Metadata forms, survey reports, survey navigation, cruise reports and cruise navigation should be sent to the MARGINS DMS at
  • All data collected with MARGINS funding must be archived as soon as practically possible and certainly within two years of the time the Principal Investigator(s) obtain access to them. Data will not be publicly released ahead of the two year limit unless specifically authorized by the PI(s). For data collected in continuing and multi-year projects, PIs are encouraged to submitted new data at yearly intervals.
  • Two years following the end of a field program, data must be made freely available, consistent with IRIS/PASSCAL and OBSIP policies where applicable. In the case of datasets not available to the investigators at completion of the field project (for example, because they are assembled by the relevant data-center before distribution) the two year moratorium period begins on the date that the complete dataset is made available to investigators. However, Principal Investigators are encouraged to release data to other focus site investigators as soon as possible, and preferably within one year, following the end of a field season or completion of dataset processing.
  • Processed datasets must be made publicly available within two years following acquisition/generation. This policy applies even to those data and results that Principal Investigators have traditionally not been required to make publicly available (e.g. stacked and migrated seismic sections, geochemical analyses, DEMs and other rasters, tables of geological samples).


  • Digital data should be submitted to the MARGINS DMS ( unless an alternate standard national repository exists (see Appendix below for list of accepted alternate repositories). Data must be in the format required by the applicable repository. In the case that data are submitted to an alternate national repository, the MARGINS DMS team must be notified of this submission so that proper cataloging of these data and linkage with these data centers can be maintained. PIs are encouraged to submit digital data to the MARGINS DMS immediately following their cruise/expedition, where it will be incorporated with access restrictions as specified by the investigator, normally within the time periods specified in the MARGINS data policy.
  • Non-digital data for which no standard archive exists (e.g. land geological samples) must be archived by the Principal Investigator. Such data/samples must be made available to researchers upon request, but with all incurred costs borne by the recipient, rather than the provider.
  • In dealing with geological specimens, MARGINS-funded investigators must: 1) include in the metadata provided to the MARGINS DMS a list of samples taken and their location; 2) store samples in an NSF–supported repository or an alternative location (including their home institution) which has a written NSF-approved sample distribution policy (See Appendix IV of the NSF Division of Ocean Sciences Data and Sample Policy: nsf04004.pdf); 3) follow the NSF-approved sample distribution policy and 4) Notify the MARGINS DMS of any changes in permanent location for sample storage.

Documenting NSF compliance

  • The NSF grant proposal guide ( requires that proposal Project Descriptions outline plans for the archival, documentation and sharing of data, samples, physical collections, curriculum materials and other related research and education products. Plans for the handling of data and other products will be considered in the review process. Compliance with the appropriate data policy will be evaluated in consideration of a Principal Investigators record of prior support.
  • Annual reports must document compliance. Where a final report is due before the deadline for data submittal, the PI must notify the cognizant Program Officer after final data submittal.
  • Exceptions to this data policy may occur only through agreement between the PI and the cognizant Program Officer at NSF.


Appendix 1: Other applicable data policies

Depending on funding and resources used, the following data policies and others may apply.


Appendix 2: Alternative Approved Data Repositories

See attached Excel spreadsheet:

Note: If a particular data type is not mentioned here, check with your program officer or the MARGINS Office for specific guidance.

Download the 2005 Data Policy as a PDF Document

Download the Pre-2005 Data Policy as a PDF Document

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Direct inquiries to the MARGINS Office

MARGINS is an NSF funded program

The MARGINS Office is Hosted by Columbia University

Last updated Thursday, January 18, 2007