Science Operations

Data Dissemination Policy


The SAC Study Report of 2018 Sept 10, Public Dissemination of LBTO Data, reported a consensus among the LBTO partners that releasing LBT data to the public after a reasonable proprietary period will contribute to increasing the scientific productivity of the LBT by allowing the broader astronomical community to use and publish LBT data. Benefits to the partnership and corporation will accrue from increased visibility of LBT within the astronomical community, and increasing scientific impact by broadening the community of astronomers who can use of LBT data. In response to this report the LBT Board of Directors at their October 2018 meeting directed the SAC to develop a policy to implement release of LBT data to the astronomical community. The document was developed as a result. This document describes the LBT Data Dissemination Policy, while a second documents gives recommendations and top-level requirements for implementation of the public archive.

Data Dissemination Policy

The LBT Data Dissemination policy follows the recommendations described in SAC recommendations document 11_BrdMtg 1810.SAC_Recommendations_TDO_Policy of 2018 September 10. A discussion of the rationales for the subsequent policy may be found in that document.

Proprietary Period

Default Proprietary Period

The default proprietary period is 12 months from the date the data were acquired.


Exceptions to the default proprietary period are permitted for compelling scientific or programmatic reasons. There are three types of exceptions to the default proprietary period: 1. Extension: A one-time extension of the release date in multiples of 6 months. 2. Private: Data are not released until completion of the project. 3. Public: Data are released immediately with no proprietary period. The individual partner Time Allocation Committees are responsible for reviewing and approving requests for exceptions to the proprietary period, and communicate approved exceptions to the LBTO director through their partner coordinators. This allows the individual partners to formalize procedures for review and approval of such requests consistent with the allocation practices of their communities.

Data Release

Facility Instruments

The public archive will initially release only raw, unprocessed science and calibration data obtained with the facility instruments (LBC, MODS, and LUCI) during regular partner science operations. All data will be released “as-is” after suitable quality checks to verify that the FITS files are properly formatted and have conformal headers.

PI Instruments

Data from PI instruments will not be released initially. The LBTO director will review the existing MOUs with the PIs and discuss the development of possible release plans.

Engineering Data

Engineering data acquired during instrument commissioning, routine instrument checkout, and instrument service and troubleshooting activities are exempt from public release.



Metadata are ancillary data collected by observatory systems that record the state of the instrument, telescope, weather, seeing conditions, and other data contemporaneously with the acquisition of science data with the instruments.

Association of Metadata with Released Data

Metadata recording the state of observatory systems and observing conditions during an observation shall be associated with all released data.

Older Data Set Exemption

LBTO’s practices for the collection and curation of metadata have evolved significantly over time, and data more than few years old did not have benefit of current telemetry collection capabilities. These older data may be released without metadata with the expectation that over time such data will be added (if they exist) as resources and methods to retrospectively associate metadata with these older data sets become available.

Value-Added Data Sets


Value-added data sets are data that have been processed beyond raw data, ranging from basic 2D reductions (bias and flat-field), to astrometric solutions, output from data pipelines, and extracted spectrophotometry.

Output From Public Pipelines

If public pipelines are created in the future for existing or new facility and PI instruments, these value-added data sets should become part of the public archive, subject to the same proprietary period.

User-Provided Value-Added Data Sets

Individual investigators may upload reduced versions of their LBT data onto the archive for public release to provide value added data sets.

Public Data Release Conflicts

Automatic release of data to the public after 12 months could result in conflicts with contractual or collaboration agreements that support the observations. There are three main areas of potential conflict to address.

PI Instruments

PI instruments at LBT are developed and deployed under contracts between the PIs and LBTC. No PI instrument data shall be released on the Public Portal without a formal data release agreement between LBTO and the instrument PIs, which may include designating data as private and exempt from public release. For existing PI instruments (PEPSI, LBTI, and LINC), an amendment to their current operating contracts to establish a data release policy will need to be negotiated. For future PI instruments a data release clause must be part of negotiation of PI instrument operating agreements moving forward.

Collaboration Agreements

Some LBT partners obtain data as part of larger collaborations or supported by external funding agencies that have their own data dissemination policies. Requests for exemptions should go through the same request process at the individual partner TAC level as described in 2.1.2 above.

Community Access Agreements

Some of the LBT instruments (e.g., MODS) were developed with funds from the NSF TSIP program and carry with them an obligation to provide community access to LBT in return. Release of data obtained for the community as part of execution of our TSIP obligations should not be released without consultation with the relevant personnel at NOAO to respect the data rights promised to TSIP users under that program.