A Guide to SDSS Publication Procedures

David Weinberg and Donald Schneider


This is an informal guide to SDSS publication procedures. It is intended to supplement the formal description of the SDSS Scientific and Technical Publication Policy. If you have never read the publication policy, you should do so; it is a requirement for using the data that you first read and agree to this policy.

Although this guide does not represent a formal policy document of the SDSS, publication issues occasionally arise that fall outside of areas covered by the SDSS Publication Policy that need to be addressed on a timescale considerably shorter than that required to amend the Publication Policy. In these cases this document presents the ad hoc guidelines developed in consultation with the CoCo.

The SDSS Scientific Publications Coordinator (SPC, currently Donald Schneider) is responsible for ensuring that SDSS scientific papers follow the project's publication policy. The purpose of this guide is partly to save you having to re-read the publication policy before every paper, but primarily to highlight the most significant points and to give some additional details --- in some cases these are ``implementation customs'' that have developed subsequent to the policy itself. You should read this guide every time you are ready to submit a paper, in part to see whether anything has changed.

SDSS papers often have a large number of authors, and it is important to remember that each author must agree to be listed on the paper. Before a paper is posted to the collaboration, the lead author must contact each of the coauthors announcing the imminent posting of the paper and that all recipients of the message are listed as coauthors. While it is hoped that each prospective coauthor will respond, lead authors may operate under the principle that silence is acquiescence.

The lead author is responsible for satisfying the publication requirements listed below. Once the paper has received project approval and has been submitted, the only project requirements are that the lead author provide a web link to the latest version of the paper and update of the paper's status on the publication web page; aspects such as astro-ph posting and replies to the referee are left to the discretion of the authors. The only exception to this procedure is when a fundamental issue regarding the SDSS is raised (e.g., referee or SDSS participant identifies an important problem with the calibration) after submission; when such an incident arises, it must be brought to the attention of the entire collaboration.

This guide contains the rules for the the rules for the submissions of five types of publications: Journal articles based on proprietary SDSS data, Technical papers, Data Release papers, Conference proceedings based on proprietary SDSS data, Time-critical publications of proprietary SDSS data, and papers that are based on publicly available SDSS data.

SDSS Scientific Publications Based on Proprietary Data

SDSS Technical Papers

The SDSS Publication Policy states that ``Technical papers describe the SDSS instrumentation, calibration, software, strategy, and targeting algorithms. Technical papers may include some SDSS data for illustrative purposes.'' The procedure for submission of Technical papers is similar to that for the Scientific papers described in the previous section with a few important differences:

SDSS Data Release Papers

The SDSS Publication Policy states that ``Data release papers describe the contents of SDSS data releases to the public". The procedure for submission of Data release papers is similar to that for the Scientific papers described in a prior section with a few important differences:

Conference Proceedings Based on SDSS Proprietary Data

The procedure for submitting a conference paper based on SDSS data is the same as that described for journal articles, with the following exceptions:

``Time-critical'' SDSS Papers

Situations will arise where the scientific impact of an SDSS discovery (e.g., a supernova) will be greatly diminished by the delay imposed by the standard publication procedure; the Publication Policy deals with this issue in Section 8.7. When this policy was written, it was envisioned that the release of proprietary data would consist of information on a single object immediately announced in an IAU Circular.

Since the Publication Policy was written, it has become clear that the SDSS can provide time-critical information on a regular basis for large numbers of at least one class of objects (e.g., asteroids). Participants who wish to regularly release substantial amounts of time-critical data, such as positions and photometry of asteroids, should follow the following procedure:

Papers by SDSS Participants Based on Public SDSS Data

The SDSS publication policy applies to publications that are ``...based on analysis of unreleased SDSS data.'' Conversely, an investigation that was begun after a Data Release and that relies only on data from that release (and other non-SDSS data) is not bound by the publication policy.

As an SDSS participant, you are nonetheless encouraged to consider treating papers based on publicly available data as SDSS publications in cases where that seems appropriate, in particular in cases where your status as an SDSS participant made an important difference to your ability to carry out the investigation (e.g., the investigation drew on technical advice from other SDSS participants).

There are several levels at which you might do this. One is to identify specific SDSS individuals whose technical contributions were especially relevant to your investigation and invite them to be co-authors if they wish. A second is to circulate drafts of your paper through the most relevant working group mailing list and invite other members of the working group to contribute to the paper and become co-authors. A third is to treat your paper like any other SDSS paper, posting it to the publication index as a ``Scientific Paper in Journal,'' leaving it posted for three weeks, and accepting co-authorship requests just as you would for any other SDSS paper. Which of these courses is most appropriate will depend on the nature, scope, and timing of your investigation.

The project would like the SDSS Publication Index to provide a complete record of SDSS papers written by SDSS participants, and you are therefore requested to post all such papers to the Publication Index, including those based entirely on public SDSS data. (Note that this request is a change from the advice in sdss-general message 1992.) Unless you are treating the paper as a regular SDSS publication (i.e., standard 3-week posting period and co-authorship requests), you should post it under the category ``Scientific Paper in Journal based on Public SDSS Data.'' The web-based co-authorship request mechanism is disabled for papers in this category, and these papers are not required to be posted for three weeks before submission. Please include in the comments an indication of when you intend to submit the paper (or when you submitted it). If you wish to invite e-mail co-authorship requests from participants who have made relevant technical contributions, you should also indicate this in the comments. Note that this category of posting should be used only for papers that are based entirely on SDSS data that were publicly available when the paper was started.

One essential difference between a paper based only on analysis of public SDSS data and papers based on other SDSS data is that you are free to include non-SDSS co-authors, regardless of whether they are approved external collaborators. However, it is entirely consistent to include a collaborator or student on a paper based on public data but treat it in all other respects as a regular SDSS publication, inviting comments and co-authorship.

Note that any authorship disputes that arise in papers submitted under the ``Scientific Paper in Journal based on Public SDSS Data'' category must be resolved by the individuals involved. If you believe that a paper has been incorrectly posted in the ``based on Public SDSS Data" category, first contact the lead author, then, if necessary, the SPC.

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Updated: 7 April 2008