Science Information Policy

The information produced as part of NASA’s scientific research activities represents a significant public investment. NASA holds this information, including publications, data, and software, as a public trust to increase knowledge and serve the public good. It is Science Mission Directorate (SMD) policy, consistent with NASA and Federal policies, that information produced from SMD-funded scientific research activities be made publicly available.  

SMD has released SPD-41a: Scientific Information Policy for the Science Mission Directorate to provide guidance on the open sharing of publications, data, and software created in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. SPD-41a builds upon the core principles of openness, equity, and security for SMD-funded research.    

SPD-41a is a forward-looking policy, and requirements will be introduced into new solicitations, contracts, and agreements as appropriate. The requirements of SPD-41a have been incorporated into ROSES-2023 solicitations, and new missions (pre-Key Decision Point-B) are expected to fully comply with SPD-41a. Grants awarded prior to ROSES-2023 and existing missions are not required to adopt the new policy requirements, but they are encouraged to do so if feasible with available resources. The major policy updates in SPD-41a are: 

  • Peer-reviewed publications are made openly available with no embargo period.   
  • Research data and software are shared at the time of publication or the end of the funding award.  
  • Mission data are released as soon as possible, and unrestricted mission software is developed openly.   
  • Science workshops and meetings are held openly to enable broad participation.  

SPD-41a updates the previously released SPD-41, which consolidated existing Federal and NASA policy on sharing scientific information. The updates in SPD-41a policy reflect new federal guidance on Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research, studies from the National Academies, and input from the SMD scientific community. This includes responses from the SMD scientific community to a Request for Information that SMD issued in 2021 to solicit feedback on proposed policy updates. The SPD-41a change log provides a list of policy updates that have been made in SPD-41a. 

The development and implementation of SPD-41a are one component of NASA’s Open-Source Science Initiative (OSSI), a comprehensive program of activities to enable and support a movement toward more accessible, inclusive, and reproducible scientific processes.  

SMD Open-Source Science Guidance 

The SMD Open-Source Science Guidance provides guidelines, best practices, and examples of open-source science to support the SMD scientific community in implementing the requirements of SPD-41a. This resource will be updated over time to reflect best practices and feedback from the SMD scientific community. For this reason, several versions of the guidance are available: 

Additional Resources 

SPD-41a was developed to minimize the burden on SMD-funded missions and researchers while moving science toward openness. In pursuit of this goal, SMD provides additional guidance, training, and services to support researchers in implementing policy requirements. This includes:  

SMD will continue to work with the research community to identify additional types of support that are needed and to develop and improve existing resources. Please contact with any questions about these efforts or suggestions to improve the guidance provided around SPD-41a.  

SMD Division Policies and Guidance  

SPD-41a ensures that requirements for sharing scientific information are consistent across SMD. Additionally, SMD divisions developed the following policies and guidance to put the requirements of SPD-41a into context for specific scientific communities. These policies and other resources were developed with input from the relevant research communities and provide additional details and examples to support the implementation of SPD-41a. 

Astrophysics Division 

Biological and Physical Sciences Division 

Earth Science Division 

Heliophysics Division 

Planetary Science Division 

Town hall on SPD-41a - January 17, 2023 

Town hall on SPD-41a Request for Information - January 26, 2022 

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