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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Data Policy: Overview

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These pages provide an overview of information presented in a PDF Data Policy Guide (see also the Data Management Guide).

Data policies can be considered a collection of guidelines that determine how one party, such as a citizen science project, can interact with another party, such as a website user or a citizen science volunteer. They are usually present in one or more formalized policy documents. In citizen science, these policies often include user agreements, privacy policies, legal policies, and terms of use.   


Data policy encompasses all steps of the data life cycle and therefore all phases of a project. Data policies should be written into a project plan. Data policies govern how volunteers collect scientific data, and also how scientists collect data from volunteers. 

Through data policies, scientists ensure stewardship of the data they gather. Data policies often include instructions on writing and accessing metadata and on archiving data. Finally, policies dictate what can be done with scientific data-- who can use it, how, and to what end. 

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Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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