To share data with the NBN everyone should have a data sharing and use policy. The following provides an example of a written policy for managing access to and use of wildlife data. The model represents best practice and is intended to help describe how data are used and the basis on which they will be shared with others. This page is relevant to anyone that holds and disseminates wildlife information.


A published Data Sharing & Use Policy contributes to more transparent working and is an important part of managing permission to use and pass on data. It can help assure data providers that their data is being managed responsibly. It can help data users better understand the source of data and the conditions under which they are available.
A data sharing and use policy helps:

  • clarify your intentions and communicate these to data providers and users.
  • you make consistent and rational decisions on the availability and use of data.
  • those that provide you with wildlife data better understand how that data will be used and made available to others.
  • potential data users understand the rationale behind any constraints over the availability or use of data you hold.

Key Points

The model is divided into 8 sections that are each relevant and important. An example is provided for each. The examples are likely to require some level of tailoring in order to meet the specific needs of your group or organisation.


The paper is in its second version. The model is available for use by any organisation making wildlife data available to others.



You should start your policy document with a brief introduction setting out the purpose of the policy. It is also an opportunity to highlight the two key audiences; your data providers and users.


This document sets out our policy on sharing and use of the data we hold. The policy helps us achieve a rational and consistent approach towards the management of data availability and use. It is intended to help our data providers and users better understand our aims and intentions. We want those that provide us with data to understand how they will be used and made available to others. We want those that use the data we hold to understand the rationale behind any constraints we place on the availability of data.

Our Aims and Objectives

Who are you and what do you do? This should be a top level statement about your key aims and objectives and the role of data in achieving them. In particular you should identify the data you collect and what you do with it. You should not go into too much detail at this point.


The Data Archive for Seabed Species and Habitats (DASSH) is part of the UK’s network of marine data archive centres, and works in collaboration with the Marine Data Information Partnership (MDIP).  DASSH aims to safeguard marine benthic survey data (past and future) and to make that data available as a national information resource to support marine science and better stewardship of the marine environment.  DASSH is run by staff at the Marine Biological Association of the UK, Plymouth.

3. Data Sources

You should describe what type of data you collate and your sources. This is to let potential providers identify whether you are interested in their data and to let potential users know what type of data you hold and where it has come from.


DASSH collects, manages, and archives data and images collected (or collated) by a variety of public and private organizations who undertake benthic surveys (Table 1).  DASSH holds data and images from both volunteer and professional surveyors.  In particular, DASSH provides a data management and archive service.  This service is available to Data owners who wish to outsource their data management or who do not have the facilities to ensure the long-term safety of their data.


The survey types held vary from one-off surveys, to long-term time series, and monitoring programme data.  Species data includes records of marine fauna and flora, while habitat data include biotope or assemblage data.DASSH does not archive physical or chemical oceanographic data.  DASSH has limited holdings of data on marine mammals, marine reptiles, fish or plankton.  A list of national marine Data Archive Centres and their data holdings is provided here.

Data Use

You should describe what you do with the data you receive. This should not include dissemination to third parties as that is covered in depth later. You might include any data checking you do, collation into managed databases and long-term data archiving for example.


When data or images are received they undergo a process of quality control prior to archive storage.
  • All data and image resources are archived electronically on secure systems to ensure that a copy of the original data remains available for use by future generations.
  • All data and image resources and its associated metadata undergo quality assurance.  The checks differ depending on the type of data or images.  For further information view our quality control, metadata standard, validation, and verification information.
  • DASSH may copy data / image files to different formats to ensure present accessibility and as hardware or software changes in the future.
  • DASSH progresses metadata and data (in standard format) to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway Gateway with the permission of the Data provider.
  • For further information view our Data Management Plan.

Data Sharing

You should set out your data sharing policy here. It is good practice to state your ideal position and then go on to identify issues that may constrain access. You should give a clear account of the reasons why access may be restricted but avoid going into details of actual cases. Your policy statement here should form the basis of the framework within which you decide whether or not to release data that you hold. The 7 Data Exchange Principles promoted by the NBN Trust as best practice provide a useful basis upon which to construct your own data sharing policy (Annex 1). If you have obligations under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 you data sharing policy should be compatible with those obligations. Whenever availability of data is restricted the justification and rationale should be documented and made available to data providers and users. For example, within the free text Access Constraints field in the metadata model for the NBN Gateway. A criteria based approach can be beneficial in helping you construct clear justifications (see Annex 2 of the Data Exchange Principles).


DASSH is committed to promoting the use of the data held within the archive.  The DASSH team believes that the data resources held should be available for use in not-for-profit decision making, research, education and other public-benefit purposes.  To this end, DASSH makes marine benthic survey data and its associated metadata freely available over the World Wide Web, in order to contribute to the national resource of marine environmental data.  However, there may be some circumstances in which DASSH, as a responsible data custodian, may need to restrict access to all or part of some data resources. Whenever restrictions are applied the justification and rationale behind the decision are documented and made available.
Reasons why DASSH might restrict access to data holding are listed below.
  • If the release of certain data is likely to increase the risk of environmental damage or put particularly sensitive species at risk.  Making the data resources we hold available is designed to improve marine environmental stewardship.
  • If the release of data is likely to jeopardise the supply of data and collation of future data resources.  DASSH is a data custodian and does not own the data resources held.  Data providers support our data sharing and use policy but are under no obligation to share their data with you through us.
  • If the Data provider has requested that certain data or information is withheld.  For example where data may be commercially sensitive, or where the data is under preparation prior to publication.  The restriction may be permanent or temporary depending on the restrictions agreed with the Data Provider.
  • If the data contains personal information.  Information within DASSH is managed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Personal data will be managed in accordance with our published privacy statement. Personal information may be removed from the data resources that we make available.

Terms and Conditions

You should explain the permissions you grant to those who are able to access data that you hold. The permissions granted may be different for different users, but any differences should be justified. For example you may have a set of general terms and conditions allowing private, not-for-profit use protecting copyright, but you may also offer tailored licences allowing specific commercial use. This only needs to be a brief statement to introduce and provide a link to your data sharing terms and conditions and more details about any specific use licences.


DASSH holds datasets provided by a variety of public and private bodies, and individual researchers.  The Data/image provider (and Copyright holder if different) will be stated in the associated metadata.  Data providers retain the copyright of the original data or images at all times.  Data providers have given DASSH their permission to hold a copy of their data/image(s) within the data archive.All our data and image holdings are made available for use under the DASSH Terms and Conditions.  The Terms and Conditions are important and protect the copyright of our data and image providers.  Users are permitted to use the data holdings that we make available on-line for their own private use or for use in the ordinary course of your business, provided that such use is in accordance with our Terms and Conditions.  Users are permitted to use the images available on-line for their own private use, provided that such use is in accordance with the relevant section of our Terms and Conditions.Anyone wishing to use data or images for commercial purposes will require additional permission from the Data (or image) provider (or Copyright holder if different), who can be contacted through DASSH.  Similarly, additional permission will be required for the use of images for wide dissemination, including use on Web sites, leaflets or in promotional brochures.  Any use of data or images that is not addressed in the Terms and Conditions will require permission from the Data provider (or Copyright holder if different).


You should state clearly whether or not you have a charging policy. As the precise detail of your charges may change it is a good idea to provide a link to a separate charging policy document. Public authorities and organisations sponsored by public money are encouraged to adopt a schedule of charges that covers the cost of handling the request only. Modern digital databases and dissemination mechanisms now mean that most requests can be handled quickly and with little resource. Private bodies may wish to establish a schedule of charges that include a clear contribution to the ongoing collection and management of your data holdings. This can be prepared in such a way that it encourages regular users to enter into longer-term funding/ service level agreements. Options for entering into longer-term funding/service level agreements may also be set out in your charging policy.


DASSH data and image resources are made available on-line, for use in not-for-profit decision making, research, education and other public-benefit purposes, free of charge.  However, where permission is required under our Terms and Conditions, the Data Provider may make a charge for use of their data.Access to material not readily accessible through the DASSH and MarLIN Web sites will require DASSH staff time.  Any analysis, in-house queries or collation, of the data will also require DASSH staff time and a nominal charge may be made as set out in our Schedule of Charges.

Further Information, Advice and interpretive services

You may wish to offer additional information services above and beyond the dissemination of data. Where you are able to offer additional information, advice or data interpretations you should identify these here.


A physical archive is under development to hold physical media, e.g. scientist’s notebooks, drawings, survey reports, films/slides and video tapes.  The physical archive will actively target ‘legacy data’ that is ‘at risk’, i.e. where the host institution can no longer hold the material, the institution has closed or the scientist(s) have retired.


While the funding and space implications of the physical archive are developed, DASSH will deal with requests to hold physical media on a case-by-case basis.  Please contact the Project Coordinator to discuss your requirements.  Anyone wishing to gain access to the DASSH physical archives should contact the Project Coordinator in the first instance.