The SDSS is carried out by an international collaboration of hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions. The scientific achievements of the SDSS have been enabled by the technical and financial contributions, and the collective scientific expertise, of this vibrant collaboration.

The active operational phase of the project is the SDSS-IV, which began on July 1, 2014 and is planned to run until 2020.

The SDSS-IV collaboration is still growing and continues to actively recruit new institutional partners. For more information about joining SDSS-IV, see the Joining Document and the Principles of Operation below.

The SDSS-IV Advisory Council is the collaboration’s governing body, formulating recommendations on project scope and budget to the Board of Governors of the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC), which has responsibility for all activities at Apache Point Observatory. Collaboration policies are developed and implemented by the SDSS Collaboration Council (CoCo), which has a representative from all of the full and associate institutional partners. The CoCo is chaired by the SDSS Spokesperson, who is elected by the collaboration for a 3-year term.

For more detailed information about the SDSS collaboration, and how it operates, please see the important policy documents below.

Start Guide

Start here if you are a new member of the SDSS Collaboration and want to know how to get involved.


The top-level governing policy for SDSS-IV is the Principles of Operation document. The equivalent for SDSS-III is the SDSS-III Principles of Operation.

More detailed implementation policies, most importantly the Publication Policy and the External Collaborator Policy, are developed by the CoCo and approved by the Advisory Council.

The three main collaboration policies used within the SDSS projects are described below.

Publication Policy

The publication policy outlines how SDSS publications are created and organized. The SDSS-IV Publication Policy, an update to the policies of SDSS-I/II/III, is available here.

External Collaborators

The procedure for requesting external collaborator status as well as discussing other external participant rules is viewable here. These policies are similar to those adopted for SDSS-I/II/III.

Image Use Policy

New in DR14 we have updated our image license to a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY). Any SDSS image on the SDSS Web site may be downloaded, linked to, or otherwise used for any purpose, provided that you maintain the image credits. Unless otherwise stated, images should be credited to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

We note that

  • Your use of the image does not imply our endorsement of any product or service
  • If the image is to be used on a Web page, we also ask as a courtesy that you provide a link back to our site at

All SDSS data released in our public data releases is considered in the public domain.

Any questions about image use should be directed to the ARC Corporate Office via ARC’s Business Manager as follows:

Michael Evans
ARC Business Manager
c/o Department of Astronomy, Box 351580
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Phone: +1-206-685-7857

Please provide the exact URL of the image you are inquiring about.

If you have further questions about the appropriate usage or credits for SDSS images, please contact the helpdesk.

Survey Science Teams & Working Groups

Each of the individual surveys has its own Survey Science Team (SST), which acts as the highest level of working group for science associated with that survey.

Additional information on SSTs and WGs can be found here.

As described in the PoO and the Publication Policy, all science projects using non-public SDSS data must be announced to the Collaboration via the project-list web page when they are initiated. At a level above these individual projects, which will typically encompass one or several papers led by a few active team members, scientists may wish to collaborate and coordinate in larger groupings and thus create a “working group” (WG) for the sharing of common knowledge, facilities and information.

Find out more about Working Groups.

Official SDSS Acknowledgment

We request that the following be added to the acknowledgment section of any paper using data from the SDSS.

Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the Participating Institutions. SDSS acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS web site is

SDSS is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS Collaboration including the Brazilian Participation Group, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University, the Chilean Participation Group, the French Participation Group, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, The Johns Hopkins University, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) / University of Tokyo, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leibniz Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA Heidelberg), Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik (MPA Garching), Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), National Astronomical Observatories of China, New Mexico State University, New York University, University of Notre Dame, Observatório Nacional / MCTI, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, United Kingdom Participation Group, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Oxford, University of Portsmouth, University of Utah, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.

Find out more about How to Cite SDSS.