External Collaborator Policy

1. Introduction

The SDSS-V Principles of Operation (PoO-V) state that data rights are in the hands of scientists at an SDSS-V institution (“Participants”) who have PI status or whose primary responsibility is the construction of the SDSS-V, and in the hands of individuals at other institutions granted such Participant status. The PoO-V describes the principles under which SDSS-V data may be used collaboratively by non-Participants prior to public release. The purpose of this document is to define efficient procedures for implementing this section of the PoO-V. The procedures are slightly different for “inside” collaborators, who are at SDSS-V institutions, and for “outside” collaborators, who are not. These procedures are overseen by the Scientific Spokesperson and the Collaboration Council (CoCo), and they apply to projects or analyses started with data taken with the SDSS-V telescopes and instruments when the data were not yet in the public domain, as well as data taken with the survey equipment during commissioning periods.

Examples of the kinds of collaborations covered by this policy include:

  •  follow-up observations of interesting SDSS objects with larger telescopes or at other wavelengths, in collaboration with some non-SDSS astronomers;
  • use of SDSS data in generating observing proposals for space observatories, in collaboration with some non-SDSS astronomers;
  • searching the SDSS catalogues for objects with a particular signature, in collaboration with a non-SDSS scientist who has devised an efficient search algorithm;
  • comparison of SDSS observations with a new model for the Galaxy developed by a non-SDSS scientist.

2. Internal Collaborations

Membership in SDSS is generally conferred on long-term scientific staff (e.g., faculty, research-track scientists) at full or associate member institutions, with data rights extended to the students and postdoctoral researchers of these Participants. Named Participants from Associate Institutions may have limits specified in their MOUs on the number of postdocs and students granted data rights. Collaborations involving these shorter-term researchers are considered “internal” collaborations and do not require any special permission. The Participants themselves (e.g., faculty advisors or postdoc supervisors) are responsible for ensuring that all Collaboration policies are read and followed by all researchers, including the protection of proprietary data.

As with all SDSS-V investigations, the team should provide notice to the Collaboration upon the initiation of any project that is anticipated to lead to a publication, as described in the PoO and in the Publication Policy. Such notification is especially important in the case of Ph.D. theses, so that those concerned are aware of any potential conflicts with other projects. Observing or funding proposals intended to support SDSS-V projects do not need to be declared before the proposal is submitted (in contrast to those involving non-Participants; Section 4), though the Collaboration certainly welcomes and encourages announcement in order to take advantage of the full team’s expertise. The notification of a project can be submitted by any individual with data rights and should list all of the student, postdoctoral, and other collaborators. By submitting the notification, the individual with data rights implicitly accepts responsibility for ensuring that SDSS-V policies are followed by the all individuals, including non-Participants, who are collaborating on the project.

3. External Collaborations With Those Leaving SDSS Institutions

An individual at an SDSS-V institution who is working on projects involving SDSS-V data, but who then leaves that SDSS-V institution, may request External Collaborator status for those particular projects, so that he/she may continue working on them and/or be included on subsequent publications. This policy applies to faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students involved in research. Individuals with portable data rights need not make this request.

The individual or a Participant must:

  1. Request comment and input from any relevant working groups (by email to these groups). This is not strictly required but is strongly encouraged, as it will streamline and speed up the decision process.

  2. Fill out the External Collaborator form to request External Collaborator status. This form has a checkbox to indicate whether the request is for a Continuing External Collaboration. The form also requires that the External Collaborator candidate agree to continue following all Collaboration policies, including not only the prohibition of disseminating SDSS-V data to which they have access, but also the application of the Publication Policy to any publications resulting from the project.

  3. Wait for EC status approval before working with SDSS data if they have already left their SDSS institution. If the EC request is submitted and approved prior to leaving the SDSS institution, there is no waiting period.

The decision whether to grant EC status will be made by the Management Committee in consultation with the CoCo, the leaders of the projects involved, and the relevant working group chairs. Normally, External Collaboration status will be granted in these situations provided that the individual has had significant involvement in the project(s) before he/she leaves their SDSS-V institution. Individuals seeking this status are strongly encouraged to scope their requests to the projects in which they have significantly contributed and to data access they truly require to complete those projects; this careful scoping will prevent delays in approval due to sorting through superfluous requests. Individuals are also strongly encouraged to submit their requests well in advance of leaving their SDSS-V institution, to prevent any “gaps” in their data rights and ability to work on their project(s).

The Spokesperson, CoCo, and Management Committee may review the status of External Collaborators or modify the scope of the requests as needed.

4. Outside Collaborations

Collaborations involving non-Participants, including colleagues not at an SDSS-V institution, visitors at an SDSS-V institution, and non-Participant colleagues at an associate member institution (hereafter non-SDSS scientists), are treated differently to those described above. These collaborators access the data through Participants with data rights.

At the initiation of such collaborations, the SDSS scientist(s) involved must:

  1. Inform the non-SDSS scientist(s) of the SDSS-V rules and guidelines (the PoO, the Publication Policy, and this Collaboration Policy) and obtain their

    commitment to abide by them. In particular, non-SDSS scientists should understand and agree that they may not disseminate the SDSS-V data to which they have access in any way, and that publications resulting from the collaboration will be subject to the Publication Policy.

  2. Request comment and input from any relevant working groups (by e-mail to these groups). This is not strictly required but is strongly encouraged, as it will streamline and speed up the decision process.
  3. Obtain permission to proceed from the Collaboration Council (CoCo) by filling out the External Collaborator form.
  4. Wait for EC status approval before proceeding with the collaboration. This step may take a month or longer, as the CoCo gathers feedback from the collaboration and evaluates the request.

Permission can be expected in all cases where the outside collaborators bring resources or expertise that are not readily available within the SDSS-V collaboration itself. The guiding principle in these matters is to allow SDSS-V Participants the first opportunity to carry out science involving SDSS-V data and to bring in outside collaborators only when necessary to get the science done in a timely manner during or shortly after the proprietary period. Multiple collaborations pursuing similar ends are permitted, so the establishment of one outside collaboration does not preclude another along similar lines.

Comments on External Collaboration requests from members of the collaboration or from the working group chairs, including objections, should be forwarded to the CoCo chair within two weeks of the request’s posting on the sdss5-general mailing list. Normally, the CoCo chair has four weeks to send their recommendation to the MC, after consulting with other CoCo members, working group chairs, etc., as they deem necessary. Any objections or concerns will be shared with the proposers within a week of their being expressed, to give the proposers a chance to respond in a timely fashion. If the CoCo decides that it needs more time to consider a given proposal, it may extend the time frame (within reason) and give notice to the project team of the new decision date. The CoCo will notify the proposers of the MC’s decision as soon as possible after it is communicated.

In rare cases, proposals involving External Collaborators will be time-critical “targets of opportunity” projects that require faster decision times. In these cases, the CoCo shall make every effort to respond to proposals within ten days. Such time-critical proposals should be identified as such, and justification for the rapid time frame should be spelled out clearly. Faster approval will only be given if an extremely compelling case is made.

In the event that the project involves an observing or funding proposal that requires proprietary SDSS-V data (including meta-data such as coordinates or IDs), an EC request must still be submitted for any External Collaborators who are significantly involved in writing the proposal. This includes any team member who sees proprietary data in the proposal (including target coordinates), even if they do not have the raw data or spectra themselves. Just as with EC requests not based on proposals, a formal project must also be declared at this time; this announcement may highlight the fact that the request is for a proposal, though it does not have to. Every effort should be made to identify potential ECs in enough time for the normal CoCo decision cycle. If the proposal is successful, analysis may proceed as in any other SDSS project. EC requests submitted for proposals will not be influenced by the success of the proposal, so it is highly recommended that the team be prepared for the scenario in which the proposal is approved but EC request is delayed or declined.

Once a project involving External Collaborators is approved, the Participants involved must post papers resulting from such collaborations to the SDSS-V collaboration and invite authorship, as for an “internal” SDSS-V paper, and be sure the outside collaborators understand in advance that this will take place. All papers from projects with External Collaborators are, by definition, started with proprietary data and should go through the publication process outlined in Section 6.1 of the Publication Policy, even if the data in the meantime have become public.

The Spokesperson, CoCo, and Management Committee may review the status of External Collaborators or modify the scope of the requests as needed.

5. Declined External Collaborator Requests

If a request to involve External Collaborators is not approved, work cannot proceed with the requested EC and proprietary data. The project team may resubmit the request at any future time, taking into account any feedback from the CoCo or the Management Committee, if applicable.

6. Violations of the External Collaborator Policy

If a request is not approved and the project moves ahead anyway (e.g., follow-up observations are taken or results are publicized), or if a request is not submitted when it should be, the Participants involved will be deemed to be in violation of this policy. In this case, the CoCo chair will inform the Management Committee that those involved are deemed to be in violation of the PoO-V.

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