Product Documentation

All documentation associated with collecting and producing NEON data are open and available through the NEON Data Portal. Associated documentation includes collection protocols, C3 documents, processing algorithms, quality reports and metadata.


A metadata document contains key information about a dataset, such as scale, spatial information, temporal coverage, format and structure. For example, vegetation metadata may include species identification and file format to facilitate linking NEON plant data to existing plant databases. Data products derived from automated sensor measurements include information about sensors such as manufacturer and model and settings used in data collection (i.e., sensor configuration). NEON packages all datasets with metadata in community-standard formats, such as Ecological Markup Language (EML) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO 19115-2).

Field and laboratory protocols

NEON protocol documents contain detailed descriptions of field data collection procedures, relevant preparatory and post-field tasks, quality assurance considerations and safety issues as they relate to procedures. NEON provides observation and sampling collection protocols and processing protocols for sensor measurements on the Data Portal Document Library.

C3 documents

NEON command, control, configure (C3) documents define the specifications, use and configuration of sensors installed at NEON field sites.

Processing protocols

An Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD) describes 1) information used to create a dataset, otherwise known as input data; and 2) processing steps required to create the final, downloadable dataset. ATBDs identify the source of input data, outline the physical principles and mathematical background that support the processes steps required, provide scientific justification for algorithm use and explain limitations and assumptions. ATBDs also document calibration and quality check processes.

Quality reports

All incoming NEON data undergo a series of standard checks to identify and flag data containing potential errors, such as 1) sensor malfunctions leading to data values outside of the expected range or 2) errors associated with human-made observations, such as species identification, and measurements. Quality reports include data quality flags and summaries of data quality flags, such as percentage of flagged data or an overall flag indicating passing of all tests. Quality reports are provided so that users can most effectively interpret the error and uncertainty margins associated with NEON data.