Data Access Policy

Aug 15, 2004


Welcome to the ESP web site and databases. Our intentions are to make our data as freely available as possible (See Data Availability). Our data sets consist of long-term research study data with accompanying documentation (metadata). Meteorological, Hydrological and phenologial data are available. We encourage the use of our data sets, but as a professional courtesy we ask that data users read and agree to the terms of our Data Use Agreement.

It is considered a matter of professional ethics to acknowledge the work of other scientists that results in data used in subsequent research. Therefore, ESP researchers request appropriate citation and acknowledgement for subsequent distribution or publication of any work derived from these data sets. Data users are strongly encouraged to consider consultation, collaboration and/or co-authorship with original investigators.

Data Use Agreement

Any ESP data set and accompanying metadata available on these web pages can be downloaded for academic, research, recreational, and other professional purposes. Permission to download data sets is granted to the Data User without a fee subject to the following terms:

Data User will:

  • notify the designated contact (Principle Investigator) when any derivative work based on or derived from the data and documentation is distributed.

  • notify users that such derivative work is a modified version and not the original data and documentation distributed by the ESP.

  • not redistribute original data and documentation

  • acknowledge the support of the ESP

  • send two reprints of any publications resulting from use of the data and documentation to the following address:

Attn: Steven Paton
Unit 0948
APO AA 34002-0948

By using or copying these data and documentation, the Data User agrees to abide by the terms of this agreement. The ESP Site shall have the right to terminate this agreement immediately by written notice upon the Data User's breach of, or non-compliance with, any of its terms. The Data User may be held responsible for any misuse that is caused or encouraged by the Data User's failure to abide by the terms of this agreement.

Thank you for your cooperation. We hope your collaboration with our site is a productive one!


While substantial efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of data and documentation, complete accuracy of data sets cannot be guaranteed. All data are made available "as is". The ESP shall not be liable for damages resulting from any use or misinterpretation of data sets.


ESP Meteorological and Hydrological data sets should be cited as: Data sets were provided by the Terrestrial-Environmental Sciences Program of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Panama Canal Authority Meteorological and Hydrological data sets should be cited as: Data sets were provided by the Meteorological and Hydrological Branch of the Panama Canal Authority.

Users of other data sets should contact the relevant PI's for proper citation information.

User Registration Form:

We ask that you complete a short user registration form (see sample) when downloading data. This form has been implemented as a courtesy to the intellectual property rights of those who generated the data and for our purposes of tracking the use of this data set in order to set priorities for limited resources. Mailing this form indicates that you have agreed to the terms of our Data Use Agreement.

Thank you for your cooperation!!

Data Availability:

We wish to make our data as freely available as possible. Our ideal goal is to make all Meteorological & Hydrological data available within 1-2 months of collection. Other data sets should be available via the Internet 2-3 years after collection. Realistically, however, it is not possible to make all data available in that time frame. We therefore recognize two access categories for electronic data sets:

Type 1 data are freely available over the Internet once the terms of the Data Use Agreement are agreed to.

Type 2 data are not freely available, but may be distributed under specific restrictions. Metadata for Type 2 data will generally be made freely available via the Internet. Type 2 status will be assigned to electronic data that meet the conditions listed below. Bear in mind that data are not restricted without specific justification from the data set curator (typically the Principle Investigator). Moreover, Type 2 status is not meant to be a permanent condition, and data sets will be assigned Type 1 status once distribution concerns have been satisfied. Those interested in exploring the use of Type 2 data are encouraged to directly contact the data curator to determine which collaborative arrangements would be mutually acceptable.

Conditions Justifying Type 2 Status

  1. Legal Issues

    1. The data includes the location of sensitive resources that might be endangered by revealing the location. This would include locations of artifacts, threatened or endangered species, and certain permanent plots.

    2. Data will not be released that may compromise one's personal privacy. This might include types of census data involving human subjects.

    3. Data that are covered by copyright laws (e.g., TM and/or SPOT satellite data).

  2. Data Quality Assurance and Control Issues

    1. The quality of the data is currently too low to be released. Data proofing and QA/QC have not yet been conducted or completed, but could occur if resources become available.

    2. The data include measurements using new techniques that require further research before their value/limitations are understood.

    3. Legacy data that have significant problems in metadata, measurements or other issues that make the value of the data questionable without significant investment of resources. Examples of this category would be some of the IBP-Coniferous Forest Biome data (1969-1979) which were stored prior to adoption of rigorous metadata and QA/QC standards. While the potential value of this legacy data may be high, significant resources are required to validate these data before distribution. We discourage making requests for these data unless the requester has funding to support the development of these data sets.

  3. Publication Issues

    1. Protection of vulnerable PI is required. These data sets are those collected by graduate students, Post-Doc's, and others who have a limited number of data sets to their name and whose professional development might be compromised by releasing the data too early.

    2. Data for which the sampling interval is longer than the 5-6. These would be data sets that might take a decade or more to detect a trend. If appropriate, intermediate data from one measurement period will be made accessible as a Type 1 data set.