Data Policies & Citation Guidelines

NEON is committed to providing data of high value to the ecological research community by meeting the FAIR data principles. These principles recommend that data be:

  • Findable, through globally unique persistent identifiers and rich metadata which is indexed in a searchable resource.
  • Accessible, through standardized communication protocols. Metadata should be preserved even when data are no longer available.
  • Interoperable, through the use of broadly accessible language with shared vocabularies and qualified references to other metadata.
  • Reusable, through prescribed data usage criteria, documentation of provenance, and defined domain-relevant community standards.

To show our commitment to FAIR, we are a COPDESS signatory for the Enabling FAIR Data project, as a data repository and research infrastructure.

We highly encourage practices that continue the enablement of FAIR, including acknowledging and citing sources of data, samples, and documentation as well as preserving and openly publishing research inputs, workflows, and outputs so that they may be discovered and used by others.

Data Usage Policy

All data collected by NEON and provided as data products, with the exception of data related to rare, threatened, or endangered (RTE) species, are released to the “public domain” under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 “No Rights Reserved” ( No copyright has been applied to NEON data; any person may copy, modify, or distribute the data, for commercial or non-commercial purposes, without asking for permission. NEON data may still be subject to other laws or rights such as for privacy, and NEON makes no warranties about the data and disclaims all liability.  When using or citing NEON data, no implication should be made about endorsement by NEON.

In most countries, data and facts are not copyrightable. By putting NEON data into the public domain, we encourage broad use, particularly in scientific analyses and data aggregations. However, please be mindful of the following scholarly norms:

  • NEON data should be used in a way that is mindful of the limitations of the data, using the documentation associated with the data packages as a guide.
  • Unlike most scientific data, NEON data is not associated with individual authors; rather, the ‘author’ of data produced by the Observatory is NEON itself. Attributions and citations should be made to NEON for any use of the data.

Sample Usage Policy

The majority of NEON samples are archived in the Biorepository at Arizona State University. To learn more about ASU-specific guidelines, please visit the Biorepository Portal.

Across all repositories that NEON partners with, NEON's Sample Use Policy balances the need to provide researchers with access to NEON samples for a wide-variety of purposes while preserving the future research potential of those samples. This is a living document that is subject to change over time.

Acknowledging NEON

In publications, the following statements may be used in the Acknowledgement section, or a combined statement if more than one type of support was obtained from NEON.

General Support and Data Product Use

'The National Ecological Observatory Network is a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and operated under cooperative agreement by Battelle. This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the NEON Program.'

Assignable Asset Program

'The National Ecological Observatory Network is a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and operated under cooperative agreement by Battelle. Data collected/used in this research were obtained through the NEON Assignable Assets program.'

Samples & Specimens

'The National Ecological Observatory Network is a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and operated under cooperative agreement by Battelle. This material uses specimens and/or samples collected as part of the NEON Program.'

Citing NEON

Citing sources correctly helps our community maintain transparency, openness, and trust, while also providing a benefit of being able to track the impact of NEON on scientific research. We provide guidance on how to cite data, samples, documents, code packages, and educational resources that were created by NEON. While there are numerous standards that can be used for citations (MLA, APA, AGU Publications, etc.), we request that certain fields be present regardless of format. The examples provided below are primarily offered to provide clarity, and may be modified per specific guidelines maintained by a publishing authority, such as a journal, publishing company, or website. Here, we predominantly leverage styles and guidelines from Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, IIIE, and APA.

Citing Data

Downloaded Data

In each data product details page (see 2D Wind Speed and Direction Data Product Detail Page for an example) and within the data download workflow, there is a citation that you can easily copy and paste into your manuscript or code. Please use this citation in all of your research products, modified as needed per publisher requirements. Released data have been assigned DOIs.

In some cases, a research or synthesis paper may utilize many NEON data products, downloaded at different times from different subsets of field sites. In this case, in order to maintain transparency for future reproducibility, we recommend adding a table either in the manuscript, an appendix, or some other document permanently linked to the manuscript. If you have used a Provisional dataset, enter “PROVISIONAL” as well as the DOI pointing to where you archived the data, if possible. More guidance on submitting provisional NEON data to a third-party repository is coming soon.

Example of Data Product Citations: 

In References section:
NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Soil temperature, RELEASE-2021 (DP1.00041.001). Dataset accessed from on January 25, 2021

NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Ground beetles sampled from pitfall traps, RELEASE-2021 (DP1.10022.001). Dataset accessed from on January 25, 2021

NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Ground beetles sampled from pitfall traps (DP1.10022.001). (accessed January 25, 2021)

Table in Manuscript:

Data Product ID Data Product Name DOI Site ID Date Range
DP1.10041.001 Soil temperature CPER, SERC, JORN 2018-01-01 - 2019-12-01
DP1.10220.001 Ground beetles sampled from pitfall traps CPER, SERC, JORN, SRER 2015-01-01 - 2018-12-01
DP1.10220.001 Ground beetles sampled from pitfall traps PROVISIONAL; data for this paper at [DOI] CPER, SERC, JORN, SRER 2019-01-01 – 2019-12-31

Prototype Data

Some datasets were collected early in NEON's history, during trials of new protocols or sensors. These datasets are made available with limited metadata. These datasets do not have identifiers as the data products do, and so the title is adequate.

    Template: NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). [DATASET TITLE]. (accessed [DOWNLOAD DATE]).

    Example: NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Megapit Soil Archive use data, 2013-2018. (accessed 26 Jan 2020).


Data Delivered by Hard Drive

    Template: National Ecological Observatory Network. [YEAR SHIPPED]. Data Product IDs: [DPID1, DPID2, …, DPIDN], [YEAR OR YEAR RANGE OF DATA USED]. Provided by NEON on [SHIPPED DATE]. Battelle, Boulder, CO, USA

    Example: National Ecological Observatory Network. 2016. NEON.DP2.30018.001, NEON.DP2.30019.001, NEON.DP2.30022.001, 2016-2019. Provided by NEON on 2 Jan 2016. Battelle, Boulder, CO, USA


Data Collected Through NEON Assignable Assets Program

Data collected through the NEON Assignable Assets program should be made publicly available within two years of the NEON Assignable Asset data collection completion or in accordance with funding agency requirements. Please cite the public repository where the data are archived and acknowledge [Link to above] the data collection through the NEON Assignable Assets program.


Citing Samples & Specimens

If samples are obtained from the NEON Biorepository at Arizona State University, please refer to the NEON Biorepository Recommended Citation Formats for citation of information and data about samples, and specimens from the NEON Biorepository. If NEON samples are obtained from another facility, such as the Smithsonian's U.S. National Tick Collection at Georgia Southern University, please follow citation practices from the facility.

Citing Documents

NEON provides a wealth of formal documents about sampling protocols, algorithms, science designs, and other topics. These documents may be freely used in research, and modified as needed for the particular goals of a research project or field site. We ask that NEON documents be cited if they have been used as a substantive part of a research project; for example, this may be a NEON protocol that was used (as is, or in a modified form) in the author(s) field site or lab, an algorithm that was used from a NEON ATBD in the author(s) analyses, or a Data Product User Guide that was used by the author to help understand and guide data analyses. Documents do not need to be cited only because of their connection to specific data products that were used in an analysis. They only require citation if they were used in any other manner that informed the project beyond access to basic information.

Many of these documents have a document number, in the form of "NEON.DOC.000000" (six numerals) and revision letter (e.g, "vA"). These numbers and letters create unique identifiers for each document, and are thus useful for later referencing of documents.

    Template: [Author(s)]. [Year]. [Document Title]. [NEON Document # with Revision Letter or just Revision Letter if no document number]. NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network).

    Example: Thibault, K. 2018. TOS Protocol and Procedure: Breeding Landbird Abundance and Diversity. NEON.DOC.014041vJ. NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network).

    Example: Meier, C. 2019. NEON User Guide to Digital Hemispheric Photos of Plot Vegetation (NEON.DP1.10017) Version A. NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network).

Citing Code Packages

Please review the documentation for each code package for the recommended citation and use policy. While most packages will have an open license, some may be more restrictive due to partnerships with external collaborators or a dependency on proprietary software.

    Template: [AUTHOR(S), NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network)]. [PACKAGE NAME]. [LANGUAGE] package version [VERSION NUMBER]. [URL].

    Example: Lunch CK, Laney CM, NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). 2020. neonUtilities: Utilities for Working with NEON Data. R package version 1.3.4.

Citing Educational Resources

Data Tutorials

    Template: [AUTHOR(S), NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network)]. Data Tutorial: [TUTORIAL NAME]. [URL] (accessed [DATE ACCESSED].

    Example: Lunch CK, Laney CM, Jones MA, NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Data Tutorial: Download and Explore NEON Data. (accessed 25 January 2020).

Teaching Modules

Many NEON teaching modules are published or referenced on QUBESHub. On QUBESHub, all teaching modules have recommended citations with DOIs. Refer to the individual module for information about access rights and the recommended citation.

    Example : McNeil, J, Jones MA (2018). Data Management using National Ecological Observatory Network's (NEON) Small Mammal Data with Accompanying Lesson on Mark Recapture Analysis. NEON - National Ecological Observatory Network, (Version 2.1). QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/Q4M121

NEON also provides links to NEON-related teaching modules that are created and hosted by other groups. Follow links to the module and look for citation information on each module's primary web page.

Citing Media


NEON is the author of all of its maps. Accordingly, cite maps as:

    Template: NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). [Title of Map.]. [URL] (accessed [DATE ACCESSED].

    Example : NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Field Sites Map - Poster w Site Index.… (accessed 26 Jan 2020).

Webpages and Blogs

NEON is the author of all of its web pages unless a specific author is listed. Accordingly, cite web pages as

    Template : [NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) or Author]. [Title of Article or Individual Page]. [URL] (accessed [DATE ACCESSED]).

    Example : NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Getting to Know the NEON Domains: The Northern Plains.… (accessed 6 January 2020).

Images and Graphics

Images and graphics may have been generously contributed to NEON, or generated by NEON, to promote education and research. Unless stated otherwise, images are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 (CC BY 2.0). Users are allowed to copy, transmit, reuse, and/or adapt content, as long as attribution regarding the source of the content is made. If the content is altered, transformed, or enhanced, it may be re-distributed only under the same or similar license by which it was acquired.

    Template: [NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) or Creator]. [PUBLICATION YEAR].[IMAGE TITLE]. [IMAGE TYPE (e.g., Photograph)]. [URL].

    Example: Westhusin T. (2017). Baby bears at YELL. [Photograph].….


    Template : [NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) or Person or group who uploaded video]. [PUBLICATION DATE]. [VIDEO TITLE [Video]. [WEBSITE HOST]. [URL].

    Example : NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). 8 Feb 2018. NEON: Open Data to Understand our Changing Ecosystems [Video]. YouTube.


Last updated January 26, 2021