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SAPFLUXNET data policy and intellectual property guidelines.

Version 1.0, CREAF, March 2016

  • This document presents the guidelines regarding data ownership and intellectual property issues within the SAPFLUXNET project. SAPFLUXNET is an iniative to compile a global database of sap flow measured in plants coordinated by CREAF and initially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through grant Nº CGL2014-55883-JIN. Please visit http://sapfluxnet.creaf.cat/ for updated information on project acknowledgements and funding.

  • The SAPFLUXNET core team (SCT) is formed by researchers at CREAF (Rafael Poyatos, Víctor Granda, Roberto Molowny-Horas and Jordi Martínez-Vilalta). The SAPFLUXNET international team is formed by Kathy Steppe (Ghent University), Ram Oren and Gabriel Katul (Duke University) and Miguel Mahecha (MPI-BGC Jena).

  • The guidelines in this document will be revised and updated by the SAPFLUXNET core team and all data contributors will be informed of any substantial changes.


  • Data collection stage: period during which datasets will be received, quality-controlled and incorporated to the database.
  • Data contributor: individual researcher that contributes data to SAPFLUXNET.
  • Database managers: members of the SAPFLUXNET core team plus researchers and technicians who contribute intellectually or technically to the development of the database.
  • Embargo stage: period during which the SAPFLUXNET database will be available to all data contributors to perform data analyses on the entire database or any subset of it.
  • Internal release date: projected date to release the internal version of the database, only to data contributors. It marks the start of the embargo stage.
  • Public release date: projected date to release the first open version of the database to the public domain. It marks the start of the public stage.

Data contribution

  • The data collection stage will start in early 2016. Datasets contributed during the data collection period will be quality-controlled and a first decision about their suitability to be included in the database will be communicated to the data contributors.

  • By late 2016, an orientative deadline (~ Jan-Feb 2017) for the contribution of data for the first version of the SAPFLUXNET database, will be established. After this deadline, the project will enter the analysis stage, during which the SAPFLUXNET core team will prioritise data analyses over the processing of new datasets. The eventual incorporation of new datasets received during this stage will depend on the availability of staff specially dedicated to the project.

Expected outcomes

  • The main objective of the project is to produce a fully-operative first version of the SAPFLUXNET database. This database will be made available to all data contributors by the end of the project (October 2018). The database will be under embargo during 1 year more, and then it will be made available to the entire scientific community (October 2019).

  • All data contributors will be included as co-authors in a data paper describing the database. Data papers are published by data-focused journals (e.g. Scientific data, Earth System Science Data) or in specialised sections of field-specific journals (e.g. Ecology). See here for an example.

  • Before the submission of the data paper, the SAPFLUXNET core team will lead a joint analysis of transpiration patterns across the globe, which will ideally be submitted to a high-impact journal. All data contributors whose data are used in the analysis will be offerred co-authorship.

  • At the beginning of the analysis stage (~ Jan-Feb 2017) a tentative proposal of other planned analysis by the SAPFLUXNET core team will be made public to all data contributors. Data contributors will be invited to participate as coauthors of papers resulting from these analyses if (and only if) their data is used and they provide substantial input besides the data themselves.

  • Data processing R scripts and packages generated during the project will be made available first to all data contributors.

Data contributors’ rights

  • We are aware that positions on data sharing and data use policies and rules governing authorships in scientific papers may change across groups, institutions, sub-disciplines or countries. However, please note that in order to achieve a truly global coverage to maximise our chances of making a significant scientific contribution, we present a rather inclusive policy regarding authorships that is appealing for data contributors.

  • Only data contributors will be granted access to the database during the embargo stage (~Oct 2018-Sep 2019), 1 year before the public release of the database. Proposals for data analyses using the database by data contributors will need to be submitted beforehand to the SAPFLUXNET core team (SCT). The SCT will examine the proposals to mediate in case of overlap between analyses proposed by different data contributors. The SCT will also be invited to participate intellectually in the analyses and will be offered co-authorship.

  • The database will be publicly released in ~ Oct 2019, at the same time of the submission of the data paper. Before the public release of the database, the SAPFLUXNET core team will ask the data contributors to confirm that they release their data under an appropriate public domain license. If any data contributor chooses not to release their data under these terms, he/she will automatically be removed from the data paper author’s list.

  • We must provide data use policies to accomodate a large, heterogeneous community and we acknowledge that the ultimate decision on the public release of the datasets remains with the data contributor. However, we do not encourage withdrawal of datasets from the database, as this would mean a suboptimal use of time and resources in processing and standardising datasets that cannot be fully used by the scientific community.