Establish a Data Policy for Your Station

Data policies for journals and grant funders are now common practice. Funders’ data policies often require that researchers submit a data management plan, or now output management plan, sharing products back with the funder through reporting mechanisms or repositories, like the NSF’s Public Access Repository (PAR), and citing the funder in the acknowledgments. Publishers are now moving toward requiring that data used in the publication is published in a repository and cited. Many publishers have adopted author guidelines similar to those established through the American Geophysical Union-led project, Enabling FAIR Data.

Less common are institutional data policies for institutes like field stations. However, like funders, field stations provide resources and support. Station-based data policies establish the expectations for acknowledgment and sharing of research back to the institution. The FAIR Island Project worked with the Tetiaroa Ecostation to establish a data policy for the station. We then created a generic version to be reused by other stations.

Here is the TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) for the Generic Version:

In return for the support and access to [Place] (the physical island and data derived from it) provided by [Host Organization], participants in research projects agree to make their metadata and prepublication data available to each other through a “[Place] Data Trust” that facilitates data re-use according to mutually agreed terms and a code of conduct. The Trust is maintained by the [Host Organization] to support decision-making for wise and equitable stewardship of the [place]. It follows best-practice in research data stewardship. This policy does not impose legally-binding conditions nor replace or impinge on legal obligations and/or institutional policies that might apply.

The full text for this generic version is published on Zenodo and lives in a GitHub repository that evolves as issues are raised and addressed. A GitHub page with has been added for comments.

The draft text for the Tetiaroa Ecostation is shared with GitHub pages and also lives in a GitHub repository. NOTE: the Tetiaroa Ecostation Data Policy has not been published as of this writing (June 2024). We wrote about our process of migrating these policies to GitHub on the blog here.

Field Station Action Steps:

  1. Does your station have a data policy?
    • Yes! Awesome— we’d love to collect these. Please send us a note at and let us know.
    • Not yet. That’s totally okay—policy work often happens by copying a good example. Take our generic version and copy (fork) it. Start editing it directly in GitHub with markdown. Once you are happy with your policy, your organization could adopt it and publish it like our Generic version (use Zenodo or your own DOI service platform), giving it a DOI.