Data Access Policy and Citation

Access to the data archived within SeaBASS follows the NASA Earth Science Data and Information Policy. 

NASA's Earth Science program was established to use the advanced technology of NASA to understand and protect our home planet by using our view from space to study the Earth system and improve prediction of Earth system change. To meet this challenge, NASA promotes the full and open sharing of all data with the research and applications communities, private industry, academia, and the general public. The greater the availability of the data, the more quickly and effectively the user communities can utilize the information to address basic Earth science questions and provide the basis for developing innovative practical applications to benefit the general public. In this regard, all users incorporating SeaBASS data into their research are expected to acknowledge both their data sources (the original data contributors and SeaBASS) and NASA, and to abide by the Access Policy.

Table of Contents

Current Access Policy Synopsis

  • Following the NASA Earth Science Data and Information Policy, all SeaBASS data are publicly available.
  • Original contributor(s) should be extended authorship rights until the 3-year data collection anniversary.
  • The contributor(s), SeaBASS, and NASA should all be acknowledged by all users incorporating SeaBASS data into their research (including presentations, conference proceedings, and publications).
  • The Ocean Biology Processing Group will periodically contribute these data to the NOAA NODC.


SeaBASS Data Access Policy

SeaBASS was designed to provide a user-friendly, searchable database of in situ bio-optical measurements to NASA Ocean Color Science Team members and to other interested individuals (members of other ocean color instrument teams, voluntary data contributors, etc.) for advanced algorithm development and data product validation purposes. In addition, SeaBASS contains a variety of data collected using different methods (e.g., subsurface and above-surface reflectance, high performance liquid chromatography, and fluorometric chl a), which are useful for measurement protocol evaluation purposes (e.g., Mueller and Austin 1995, Hooker et al. 1999, and Fargion and Mueller 2000). 

Submission: Ocean color algorithm development is essentially observation limited, and rapid turnaround and access to such data are crucial for progress. Principal Investigators (PIs) funded under a NASA contract or grant agree to provide in situ data within 6-months of data collection, but no later than one year. International Science Team members and members of other ocean color instrument teams who are making suitable observations for algorithm development and validation are encouraged to provide their data as well, to foster collaboration. 

Formats and Metadata: Data should be provided in the currently agreed-upon format, along with relevant information describing collection conditions, instrument specifications, instrument performance and calibration, and statements of data accuracy. The currently used data format specifications and examples are posted on the SeaBASS Web site. The provider should use FCHECK, which is an automated format checker program, to test the format validity of SeaBASS data files via return e-mail. Appropriate instrument information, cruise reports, and calibration histories are expected from each data provider. For data providers supported by NASA, submission of the above information is mandatory. Data values shall be in appropriate units (e.g., providing volts together with conversion coefficients and drift data is unacceptable). High level data sets, such as normalized water-leaving radiance spectra, are encouraged together with descriptions or citations of the procedures used to derive the values. Descriptions of data should be segmented into logical groupings, e.g., by station, date, parameter, etc. Data quality, calibration traceability and history, instrument drift, and sampling protocols may be in text format. Future recommended format modifications may be proposed during NASA Ocean Color Science Team meetings and then discussed for approval and implementation. 

Data Delivery and Access: Researchers, who are supported by the a NASA grant or contract, will be required to deliver data to the Ocean Biology Processing Group within six months, but no later than one year, of data collection. Access to the digital data will be made available to the NASA Ocean Color Science Team and other approved users as soon as the SeaBASS administrators have assured the data pass quality control criteria. After the third-year anniversary of data collection, all data will be given to the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) for distribution. Exceptions to this plan may be made with the approval of the Ocean Color Science Team. 

Use Conditions: Prior to the three-year data collection anniversary, users of data will be required to provide proper credit and acknowledgment of the provider. A citation should also be made of the data archive. Users of data are encouraged to discuss relevant findings with the provider early in the research. The user is required to give all providers of the data being used a copy of any manuscript resulting from use of the data prior to the initial submission for publication, thus giving the data provider an opportunity to comment on the paper. The provider(s) shall have the right to be named as a co-author. All users and providers are requested to report possible data errors or mislabeling found in the database, to the SeaBASS administration. 

Updates and Corrections: A major purpose of the SeaBASS database is to facilitate comparisons between in situ observations (regionally, temporally, by technique, by investigator, etc.), as well as between in situ and remotely sensed observations. Updates and corrections to submitted data sets are encouraged. Records will be maintained of updates and corrections; summaries of updates will be posted on a database board, and users shall be notified of the updates. It will be the provider's responsibility to ensure that the current data in the archive is identical to the data used in the provider's most recent publications or current research. When an investigator has determined that the data sets are final, a written certification of data quality is mandatory. 

Distribution: After receiving the final data, the Ocean Biology Processing Group will forward the data at the appropriate time to NODC for open distribution. A courtesy citation, naming the provider and the funding agency, will accompany the data. The OBPG will not be held responsible for any data errors or misuse.


SeaBASS should be cited using either of the following:
P.J. Werdell, S.W. Bailey, G.S. Fargion, C. Pietras, K.D. Knobelspiesse, G.C. Feldman, and C.R. McClain, "Unique data repository facilitates ocean color satellite validation", EOS Trans. AGU 84 , 38, 377 (2003). 

P.J. Werdell and S.W. Bailey, The SeaWiFS Bio-optical Archive and Storage System (SeaBASS): Current architecture and implementation, NASA Tech. Memo. 2002-211617 , G.S. Fargion and C.R. McClain, Eds., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, 45 pp. (2002).
NOMAD should be cited using:
P.J. Werdell and S.W. Bailey, "An improved in situ data set for bio-optical algorithm development and ocean color satellite validation", Rem. Sens. Environ. 98 , 122-140 (2005).
The satellite validation results should be cited using:
S.W. Bailey and P.J. Werdell, "A multi-sensor approach for the on-orbit validation of ocean color satellite data products", Rem. Sens. Environ. 102 , 12-23 (2006).
To cite individual datasets:

Follow the data access policy above when using SeaBASS data. To cite a specific dataset it is recommended that at least the following elements are included, although formatting styles may vary by publisher:

PI name(s)

experiment year (or earliest year in the case of multi-year experiments)

title of dataset (experiment name)

distributer (SeaBASS)

date accessed

DOI (or SeaBASS URL since not all experiments have registered DOIs yet; Read more about DOIs below)


Suggested citation format for data from a particular SeaBASS experiment:


PI(s). Experiment name. SeaWiFS Bio-optical Archive and Storage System (SeaBASS), NASA. Accessed: date you accessed the data. DOI (adding as a prefix) or if the dataset does not yet have a DOI.


Example citation using this format:


Siegel, David (1996). Plumes_and_Blooms. SeaWiFS Bio-optical Archive and Storage System (SeaBASS), NASA. Accessed: 01 January 2015.

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)

DOIs are in the process of being assigned to each experiment (i.e. long-term research project) in SeaBASS. These DOIs are permanent identification codes used for citing the datasets. When a registered DOI is entered into a DOI search engine (for example, the user will be redirected to a landing page website for the experiment which contains summary information and links to the associated cruises and data files.


SeaBASS DOIs for experiments take the form:




Further notes about SeaBASS DOIs:


After a SeaBASS DOI is registered, SeaBASS staff add the DOI to the metadata headers of all the corresponding archived data files.


In most cases, SeaBASS experiments have a single principle investigator (PI). However, some datasets from large expeditions or projects (e.g. ICESCAPE) are unified under a single experiment name. In those cases, multiple PIs are listed on the DOI landing page (in alphabetical order) because different investigators were individually responsible for different subsets of the data. Citations of those datasets should include the relevant subset of PIs whose data were used.


Although DOIs are static and permanent, SeaBASS datasets are dynamic:

  1. some experiments are ongoing and have new data added to them over time

  2. data files may be revised if corrections or reprocessing are necessary

Experiments in SeaBASS are assigned a single DOI. If a dataset is updated with new or revised files, a new DOI is not registered (except in extreme cases.) In the event data files are revised, the old files are preserved off-line and SeaBASS only provides the most up-to-date versions. This "single DOI" method simplifies attributing credit to dataset authors. However, since SeaBASS datasets are not necessarily static, it is important that citations always include “date accessed” information to help address the issue of reproducibility. Additionally, note that individual SeaBASS files contain a metadata header named “/received” which is added to files by SeaBASS staff to record the date they were submitted to SeaBASS.


Last edited by Chris Proctor on 2017-04-19
Created by Jason Lefler on 2012-05-23