Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ag Data Commons?

Ag Data Commons (ADC) provides access to a wide variety of open data relevant to agricultural research. We are a centralized registry for data already on the web, as well as a repository for new data being published for the first time. While compliance with the U.S. Federal public access and open data directives is important, we aim to surpass them. Our goal is that ADC will foster innovative data re-use, integration, and visualization to support bigger, better science and policy.

What does it contain?

Ag Data Commons hosts datasets, databases, software, and multimedia, as well as the documentation explaining these data products. These data are open, meaning they can be re-used free of charge and with few or no restrictions. If there are any restrictions on a dataset’s re-use (such as a requirement for attribution), these will be made explicit in the “License” and “Public Access Level” fields of the ADC record. If data are being re-used, we strongly encourage appropriate citation of the original research as well as the ADC record.

Data files on ADC are made available via direct download, or as a pointer to an external link. Data is hosted in the form in which it is submitted to ADC. Most of the data on ADC was generated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and university researchers with USDA funding support. Datasets and tools are often associated with scholarly publications, but association with scholarly publications is also not a requirement for submitting to ADC.

What subjects are covered?

Ag Data Commons includes resources from a wide range of research domains related to agriculture. Some examples are agronomy, genomics, hydrology, soils, agroecosystems, sustainability, science, and economic statistics.

Do I need to be logged in to view or download data?

No. You can access all published data without having an Ag Data Commons account. If you wish to submit data to the repository, you will need to create an account. See below for more information.

Should I register for an Ag Data Commons account?

You should request an Ag Data Commons account if you wish to submit data to the repository. To be eligible, you must be a credentialed researcher and receive USDA funding. As Ag Data Commons grows, we will consider expanding to include submissions from externally-funded researchers.

To register for an account, select the Register link in the upper right corner of the homepage. Ag Data Commons curators will then review your account request. Once we have approved your request you will receive an email with a link to your account.

How can I add my own data to the Ag Data Commons?

Currently, credentialed researchers with USDA funding are invited to register for an account on the Ag Data Commons. When you log in you will use the "Submit Data" button to get the submission form.

What features does Ag Data Commons have?

Ag Data Commons includes robust metadata, most of which is compatible with Project Open Data. We use keywords from the National Agricultural Library Thesaurus, and from a customized Ag Data Commons vocabulary. Our metadata provide rich descriptions to support searching and browsing, making it easier for users to find the resources they are looking for.

Users can preview some data types from within Ag Data Commons. Most datasets have a Digital Object Identifier, which is a persistent ID that is stable even if the location of the data changes over time. You can request new features by contacting NAL-ADC-Curator@ars.usda.gov.

What software does it use?

Ag Data Commons is built with DKAN, which combines Drupal functionality with open source CKAN-like features. Together with NuCivic, we are adding functionality to DKAN. Source code is available at https://github.com/NuCivic/dkan.

How can I download data?

If the data are stored in ADC as a downloadable file, you will see a download icon  . Click that icon to download the data. If the data are stored outside ADC, follow the link provided to download data from an external site.

How can I obtain metadata or data in other ways?

Computer applications can get most Ag Data Commons metadata as JSON and RDF. Most fields are compatible with DCAT, an RDF vocabulary designed to facilitate interoperability between data catalogs published on the web. A full, machine readable set of catalog contents conforming to Project Open Data Schema 1.1 (designed for http://data.gov) is available at http://data.nal.usda.gov/data.json.

How is Ag Data Commons related to Pub Ag?

Ag Data Commons records link to scholarly publications in Pub Ag when it is useful and relevant to do so. These publications may describe the data, the methods for collecting or processing the data, and/or use the data for other research.

How can I cite data in the Ag Data Commons?

There is a suggested citation provided for you in all ADC records. It is formatted in APA, and is ready for cut and paste. When a journal article describing the dataset is available (i.e. a data paper), we encourage you to cite that article, as well as the ADC record.

How can I get more information?

Contact us at NAL-ADC-Curator@ars.usda.gov