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Ag Data Commons - Collection Development Policy

The Ag Data Commons collection development policy below is subject to change. It has not yet been approved as of 4 April 2017.

Topics Collected

Broad scope

The Ag Data Commons includes resources from a range of research domains that relate to agriculture. These may include subjects such as agronomy, genomics, hydrology, soils, agro-ecosystems, sustainability science, and economic statistics. Data included in the Ag Data Commons must be all or partially funded by the USDA.

Subject range

Submitted materials must support agricultural policy, research, scholarship, or teaching. Data accepted into the Ag Data Commons must include subject content as identified by the scope of the general National Agricultural Library Collection Development Policy.

Geographic range

While the Ag Data Commons collection focuses on United States agriculture and related topics, worldwide data displaying application to U.S. agricultural issues may be included after review.

Chronological range

While the Ag Data Commons focuses on current research data, historic data displaying application to current agricultural issues may be included after review.


The Ag Data Commons currently supports and accepts English language data submission and retrieval.

Formats Collected

Preferred file formats

Data must be submitted in a standard format accessible through current file viewers. It is strongly encouraged that data be submitted to the Ag Data Commons in machine readable formats, for example CSV. PDFs are an example of a non-machine readable format that is discouraged. The Ag Data Commons reserves the right to re-format any submitted data at the discretion of the Ag Data Commons curators. Data may be reformatted in order to make it reusable by a diverse set of users.

List of acceptable file formats

The list of allowable file formats is subject to change, but a guideline of formats acceptable by the Ag Data Commons is as follows:
rtf doc dot docx dotx docb xls xlt xlsx xltx xlsm ppt pot pps pptx potx ppsx sldx xml pdf txt csv tsv html xhtml htm svg jpg jpeg gif png mp3 mov mp4 m4a m4v mpeg avi ogg oga ogv weba webp webm zip gz tar sxi sti sxc stc sxw stw sxg.

Data in an unsupported format for direct upload may be submitted in a zipped file, with a list of contents included in the file description. The Ag Data Commons does not permit executable files uploaded directly or zipped, including .exe, .bat, .ipa, . reg, etc.

Types of Materials Collected

All dataset records created on the Ag Data Commons must include at least one of the following: Dataset, Database, or Software tool.


Datasets may include database table(s) or closely related tables corresponding to a particular experiment or event. Datasets comprise the majority of the Ag Data Commons collection. We encourage the inclusion of notation and / or links to published data papers or citable procedures associated with the dataset. However, association with published literature is not required for data to be hosted on Ag Data Commons.


These materials include organized collections of data, typically structured to support processes requiring information search and retrieval. Submitters can directly upload databases that they have created to the Ag Data Commons, but the Ag Data Commons entries of this nature typically link to an outside source or distributor.

Software tools

These materials include tools created by researchers and primary investigators to help users navigate and get the most out of datasets or databases. These tools should relate to datasets or databases embodying the Agricultural Research Service mission. Software tools usually link to externally hosted open source code.


These materials include photo, video, design, and three-dimensional digital renderings related to agricultural research and interests.

Presentations, Etc.

These materials include digital slide decks and recorded conference or meeting presentations from agriculture-related seminars and events.

The Ag Data Commons reserves the right to host digital objects not explicitly mentioned in this document, so long as Ag Data Commons curators deem that such objects will add value to the agricultural research community.

Types of Materials Excluded

Physical materials

While historic datasets of various types may be included in the collection, data holders must first convert data to a current digital format before submitting to the Ag Data Commons collection. Digitization standards for materials should reflect the best practices of that material type. Ag Data Commons curators reserve the right to reject materials that do not meet the basic criteria for inclusion in the Ag Data Commons.

Research products without data

The Ag Data Commons welcomes research products generated from data (e.g. tables, charts, figures), as long as the supporting data themselves are also published.


Items that do not meet the basic acceptance criteria may still be included in the Ag Data Commons for preservation purposes at the discretion of the Ag Data Commons curators. The Ag Data Commons curators reserve the right to re-evaluate the collection and user needs and amend the list of acceptable formats and types of materials included in the collection.

Permissions and Copyright


Data holders who submit research materials to the Ag Data Commons certify they possess adequate permissions to share this data publicly. Data author(s) / creator(s) and copyright status must be specified at the time of data submission. The Ag Data Commons encourages the Creative Commons CCZero public domain dedication for submitted data, but will accept data that complies with US Federal Open Data policies. The Ag Data Commons is a site for data sharing and re-use and therefore excludes data with burdensome restrictions.


If data are not immediately available for publication on the Ag Data Commons, their release may be embargoed for up to three years. The metadata (descriptive information) will be published ahead of the data, upon approval of the embargo request from an Ag Data Commons curator.

Accessioning and Retention

Submission process

Registered users may submit dataset records to the Ag Data Commons through the online submission form. Ag Data Commons curators will accept or reject submissions to the Ag Data Commons.


All objects included in the Ag Data Commons will be retained in accordance with NAL's Collection Policy upon acceptance into the Ag Data Commons. The Ag Data Commons will not be used as a temporary storage facility for digital items. Once a dataset is approved for publication, a DOI will be assigned to each dataset record that contains locally stored resources, and will be available once the dataset record is published. A dataset DOI assigned by the Ag Data Commons covers the metadata record and all associated resource files directly controlled by the Ag Data Commons. The Ag Data Commons reserves the right to maintain a backup copy of externally hosted data for archival and/or versioning purposes, but does not guarantee the persistence and preservation of data and other resources hosted elsewhere.

The National Agricultural Library reserves the right to remove items from the collection for any reason, including but not limited to copyright or other legal restrictions, outdated or older versions of materials, decreased relevance to the Agricultural Research Service mission, and changes in user information needs.