Data policy

The programme-specific data policy was agreed by the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry executive board in January 2014.

The following data policy applies to work directly supported by the UK Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme (SSB) co-funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Defra at Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), NERC research centres, and partner institutes. This policy is fully consistent with NERC data policy¹, with wording tailored to the programme.

  1. Data² arising from the programme will be lodged with the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) on acquisition³, together with such metadata as are defined under the NERC data policy. Data submitted to BODC must be in a data format agreed between BODC and the submitting researcher.
  2. Central cruise data which complement but are not part of project-specific elements of SSB research will be provided by BODC to anyone who requests them, as soon as they are available. All requests for such openly available data will be supplied under the UK Open Government Licence for Public Sector Information.
  3. Most other data will be embargoed for two years from acquisition (for exceptions, see 6 and 7 below) allowing the data collectors and co-workers to exploit them in the first instance. To facilitate the exchange of data between SSB Work Packages where embargo periods have been applied, data will be released to other SSB programme participants without prior approval from the data originators. This release of data will be controlled by BODC based on SSB participants’ e-mail requests or by requests made online through the BODC website, to provide a written audit trail, and will involve a BODC standard data licence agreement, stipulating that co-authorship is a requirement of using the data during the embargo period.
  4. If requests for data access should be made to BODC by parties outside the programme during the embargo period, these will be forwarded to the data originator to consider their allowability and whether co-authorship is a requirement of using the data. If approved, data would be supplied under a standard BODC licence agreementand co-authorship will be stipulated as and when required. Guidance may be sought from the SSB Science Coordinator, Dr Phil Williamson (and, if necessary the Programme Executive Board) if major data transfers are involved, to avoid compromising the interests of other programme participants.
  5. The metadata will not be embargoed, to allow the wider community to be aware of work being carried out under SSB and facilitate additional linkages and profile-raising, at both the national and international level.
  6. With the potential exception of studentship-related data (see below) and data for which exceptional circumstances apply, data will be made available by BODC to anyone after the expiry of the embargo period under the UK Open Government Licence for Public Sector Information.
  7. Data arising from SSB studentships must also be lodged with BODC, and will also be covered by the two year embargo from acquisition. In addition, studentship data central to the PhD project may be granted an embargo-extension where the two year embargo expires before the end of the studentship, thereby providing additional protection to a student's intellectual property. Justification for such an extension needs to be provided by the supervisor and/or PI to BODC when the data are submitted. However, any extension to the embargo period is not expected to increase the total embargo period beyond 4 years from the start of the studentship, neither does it imply that the student has exclusive rights to data obtained through SSB support.
  8. Any corrections, improvements or amendments to data must be lodged with BODC as soon as possible.
  9. Researchers making use of SSB data are responsible for ensuring that the data used in publications are the best available at the time.
  10. Where project participants wish to obtain a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), data sets will be published in the Published Data Library(PDL) and will be made openly available to anyone who wishes to download the data. Data sets submitted to BODC for inclusion in the PDL must remain unchanged for an indefinite period of time or be able to acquire new data whilst the existing data remain unchanged (such as near-real time daily downloads from gliders). Data sets must conform to specific technical criteria¹⁰, based on good practice criteria adopted across the NERC Environmental Data Centres, to be accepted for publication in the PDL. DOIs will only be issued to base data sets suitable for future re-use in other applications, rather than data reworked specifically for a single research publication (sometimes termed 'data behind the graph'). It is the responsibility of the data set originator to inform BODC that they require a DOI upon submission to BODC. DOIs will only be issued at BODC’s discretion.
  11. In the event of dispute, the final decision rests with the SSB Programme Executive Board.
  1. NERC Data Policy: online at Note that it is a condition of acceptance of NERC funding (and co-funding) that the NERC Data Policy is followed, together with programme-specific aspects detailed here.

  2. Data: include field-based observations, field experiments, laboratory experiments (using field-based samples), selected model output, data syntheses, data-model syntheses, model codes and information on actual samples. In the event of doubt, the SSB Data Manager (Dr Louise Darroch) should be consulted.

  3. On acquisition: data are considered to be acquired when definitive values have been established. This may be when observations are directly made (for real-time, underway data) or when samples have been analysed. Whilst some time may be needed for quality control, that period should be as short as possible and within 6 months of the end of a research cruise. This is to ensure that data acquired through SSB support are available to others in the programme within its lifetime.

  4. Central cruise data: data considered to be of communal use to the cruise. The central cruise data will depend on the main context of research but usually include CTD, vessel-mounted ADCP, and data from the fixed underway sensors (navigation, bathymetry, sea surface hydrography and meteorology).

  5. Anyone is defined as public, including commercial and foreign bodies.

  6. Open Government Licence: online at

  7. BODC Data Licence: The data licence agreement details how the originator of the data should be acknowledged (such as co-authorship) and limitations to the use of the data (e.g. passing onto to third parties). However, NERC cannot guarantee compliance to these conditions.

  8. Exceptional circumstances are limited to those legally allowed under the Freedom of Information Act, primarily relating to commercial confidentiality, or where personal safety or national security might be compromised.

  9. Published Data Library enables citation in journal papers through the assignment of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in collaboration with the British Library and is accessible through

  10. Specific technical criteria: is detailed in the document ‘Guidance on providing data to BODC for Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry’.