Publication Policy

1. Introduction

This document describes the policies and guidelines governing the publication of scientific and technical results from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey V (hereafter SDSS-V). The SDSS-V Publication Policy is designed to promote the scientific and technical accuracy of SDSS-V publications and ensure that fair credit is given to the authors and to other individuals who have contributed to SDSS-V. By agreeing collectively on how publication issues will be handled, we aim to minimize future disagreement among SDSS-V participants. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, this document applies to publications from work 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. While it does not officially apply to work started using solely public SDSS-V data, authors are strongly encouraged to continue to follow the Publication Policy procedures for announcing Projects and Papers in these cases as well.

This policy applies to:

  • papers submitted to electronic archives and refereed journals;
  • scientific or technical books or book sections about the SDSS-V and its results; and
  • graphical or tabular materials or discussions of results, in electronic or hard-copy form

The special cases of colloquia, conference presentations, conference proceedings papers, and theses are discussed in Sections 10 and 11. Any proposals that rely on proprietary SDSS data and involve non-Participants are discussed in the External Collaborator Policy. Communications that are not directly covered by this document, but whose dissemination should be consistent with it, include popular articles and books, circulars, telegrams, electronic announcements, press releases, and press conferences. Throughout this document, “collaboration members” refers to SDSS-V Participants, as described in Section 3.1 of the SDSSV PoO, and those sponsored by the Participants as allowed by the PoO and the Participant’s institution’s MOU (see Section 4).

Responsibility for oversight of SDSS-V publications rests with the SDSS-V Scientific Spokesperson ( The SDSS-V Collaboration Council (hereafter CoCo), which serves as an advisory body to the Spokesperson, has been charged with formulating this Publication Policy and ensuring that it is efficiently implemented to the benefit of the collaboration. The CoCo consists of one member from each Participating Institution with three or more Participants, plus at-large members who are elected by and represent the Associate Institutions with fewer than three Participants each.

As the Survey progresses, the Spokesperson may propose revisions of this Publication Policy in what they perceive to be the best interests of (and in consultation with) the collaboration. Final approval of any changes rests with the Advisory Council. 

2. Types of Papers

There are many ways in which proprietary SDSS data can be published or described. Scientific papers are based on analyses or presentations of the SDSS-V data. The publication procedure and authorship for scientific papers is covered in Section 6. Technical papers describe the SDSSV instrumentation, calibration, software, strategy, targeting algorithms, collaboration, or other infrastructure, and are required references (when appropriate) for SDSS-V publications. Technical papers may include some SDSS-V data for illustrative purposes only. The publication procedure and authorship for technical papers is covered in Section 7. Section 8 discusses Infrastructure Papers, which cover similar areas as Technical Papers, but typically involved a smaller scope of the infrastructure than Technical Papers, and may appear during construction of the infrastructure. Data release papers describe the contents of SDSS-V data releases to the public. The publication procedure and authorship for data release papers is covered in Section 9. The inclusion of SDSS-V results in colloquia, conference presentations, and conference proceedings is covered in Section 10. The announcement of theses and the authorship of theses are covered in Section 11. The release of time-critical information is covered in Section 12.

3. Publication Coordinators

Logistical responsibility for handling scientific, technical, and data release papers will rest with the Scientific Publication Coordinator (SPC), Technical Publication Coordinator (TPC), and Scientific Spokesperson, respectively. The SDSS-V Director, in consultation with the Management Committee (hereafter MC), will appoint the SPC and TPC. The Publication Coordinators will ensure that publications follow the processes outlined in Sections 6-8 below using the Internal Collaboration Database (also referred to as the Publication Archive). The Publication Archive will be accessible to collaboration members only and may contain the following proprietary information and links to public documents:

  • projects under investigation or in preparation,
  • papers available for review by the collaboration,
  • papers approved for public distribution and journal submission,
  • published papers,
  • the SDSS-V acknowledgement script required on publications,
  • the current list of SDSS-V Architects and participants (Sections 4 & 5), and
  • the current version of this Publication Policy.

The papers in this archive that have been approved for public distribution can thereafter be used by any SDSS-V participant for purposes of public presentation, review articles, etc.

The TPC will maintain a complete list of technical publications describing the hardware, software, and other survey infrastructure on the Publications Archive. The SPC is responsible for assuring that all SDSS-V papers (scientific, technical, and data release) reference the appropriate technical papers. The TPC will help coordinate publication of these technical papers to ensure that technical documentation of the project is disseminated efficiently and promptly. The Scientific Spokesperson will coordinate the publication of the data release papers and will have overall responsibility for the Publications Archive.

4. Participants

Participants are defined in Section 3.1 of the SDSS-V PoO. An updated list of participants shall be maintained by the Spokesperson, with input from the participating institutions. All participants and other collaboration members must read and agree to the contents of this document before accessing SDSS-V data and must follow the rules of authorship and publication described in this document. Those who violate the PoO or these rules may be sanctioned, with the potential of losing participant status or data access in severe cases.

4.1 Non-Participants

According to Section 3.1 of the SDSS-V PoO, Participants may request permission to share a limited and approved portion of the SDSS proprietary data archive with non-Participants who are not at member institutions of the SDSS-V for collaborative research on a specific topic or project. The policy regarding use of proprietary SDSS data by these non-participants, or External Collaborators (ECs), can be found in the EC policy.

Once granted limited data access, non-Participants must read and agree to the contents of this document and follow the rules described herein. Non-Participants violating these rules may lose their External Collaborator status and data access.

For collaborations with large, external teams or entities whose data access is governed by an AC-approved MOU with SDSS-V, policies outlined in the MOU will take precedence over the policies here if there is overlap. Where there is no overlap, the policies in this document will be in effect. The leads of any analysis and the authors of any publication are responsible for ensuring that SDSS-V rules are followed. The CoCo and the Spokesperson should be consulted for any questions arising from the potential conflict of collaboration rules, especially where no MOU exists.

A special category of non-Participants are members of private companies that have been contracted by the collaboration and have contributed to SDSS infrastructure (e.g., instruments, facilities, etc.). Such non-Participants can be included as co-authors in technical papers that do not include science or commissioning data, as described in Section 7.

5. Architects

In order to ensure that proper credit is given to those who were responsible for the construction and maintenance of the hardware, software, and other infrastructure of SDSS, the CoCo and MC will establish a list of “Architects”.

Architects are those who have made substantial contributions to the success of the SDSS-V survey outside of explicit scientific results, including (but not limited to) work on optics, telescope, infrastructure, calibration, camera, spectrographs, data reduction and archiving software, commissioning, management, collaboration climate, centrally organized or sponsored work in the areas of education and public outreach, and major fundraising. Note that the above list does not include all possible contributions that can be considered toward Architect status. The definition of “substantial contribution” is a total of one year of full-time effort, paid or unpaid, across the whole SDSS-V collaboration (see the SDSS-V PoO as well). This can include multiple small (part-time) contributions to any/all the SDSS-V components that total to a year of effort spread over multiple years. Work done for SDSS-I/II/III/IV does not count toward this total.

To request Architect status, an individual should contact their CoCo representative (or the Spokesperson, if for some reason they do not have a CoCo rep) to iterate on the summary of their contributions. The CoCo rep will then circulate this summary to the rest of the CoCo for assessment. The justification must extend beyond merely being on the SDSS-V payroll, or being involved in SDSS-V science activity, for the appropriate length of time. The CoCo will make a formal recommendation to the MC on all requests for Architect status; the MC makes the final approval.

The Scientific Spokesperson will keep the Architect list up-to-date on the Collaboration web page, including a brief summary of the contributions for which Architect status was awarded. Since individuals become members of this list in recognition of work already performed, they cannot be removed unless they explicitly request removal. Architects remain on the Architect list when they leave an SDSS-V participating institution and even in the unlikely event that they commit sufficient infractions to have their data rights revoked.

Once approved, Architects may add their name to the author list of any science paper that they have read and whose main content and results they broadly understand, especially analyses close to their expertise and contributions (see Section 6.2). This right does not include technical papers (Section 7.2).

6. Scientific Publications

6.1 Publication Procedure

To ensure that SDSS-V publications fairly represent the contributions of those involved and that publications are vetted in a timely and efficient manner, scientific papers based on unreleased SDSS-V data will be handled as follows:

  1. As soon as a team of SDSS-V collaboration members begins a specific scientific investigation, the team identifies a contact who fills out the form at the SDSS-V Projects Web Page listing a project title, a list of current project members, and a brief abstract of the intended project. An electronic announcement of the project will then be automatically sent to the collaboration. At this, and any other stage of the process, other collaboration members can join the project through the Projects Web Page. “Joining” a project does not commit a collaboration member to work on the project, and it does not confer authorship on any papers resulting from the project; the goal is to connect project members with other collaboration members who have interest and expertise to help the project where needed.
  2. When a scientific paper has been written, the project team posts the paper to the Publication Archive as a pending paper, which will send an electronic notification to the sdss5-general mailing list. This announcement must indicate the journal to which the paper will be submitted. Posting a manuscript to the Publication Archives indicates that the analysis group considers the paper ready for submission to the journal; any remaining intended changes should be, at most, very limited in scope and described in the comments that accompany the posting. Collaboration members have three weeks to make comments, request co-authorship, etc, to the project team contact. The team contact is required to circulate substantive comments received on the paper’s content, along with the team’s response. The project team revises the paper in response to the comments and other requests it deems valid. The SPC, or a representative of the SPC, also checks that the authorship, references, and acknowledgements fairly represent the contributions made to the publication, in particular ensuring that the appropriate SDSS technical publications are referenced. The SPC carries out this duty within the same three-week period. All science publications, with the possible exception of conference proceedings, must contain the standard SDSS-V acknowledgement, which is maintained by the Spokesperson and posted on the Publications Archive. A publication can be withdrawn at any stage of this process.
  3. The authors revise the paper according to comments and suggestions from the collaboration. At the end of the three week period, or at the end of the revision process (whichever is longer), the to-be-submitted version of the paper is posted to the Publications Archive. As a professional courtesy, this version should also be sent to all co-authors by the lead author(s) at least 72 hours before submission to the journal (and/or the arXiv archive) to solicit any final critical comments or issues. After this final stage, the paper, its results, and accompanying material may normally be submitted for publication in the journal and to the arXiv archive (the latter is left to the discretion of the primary authors). The paper is not considered public until its embargo is lifted by the lead author(s), as indicated at its posting in the Publications Archive (or until its appearance in the arXiv archive or the publication to which it was submitted, should the lead author(s) neglect to lift the embargo before then). Until the embargo is lifted, the paper and its results cannot be quoted in public, referenced in other publications, etc., without the permission of the lead author(s).
  4. When a project team makes revisions in response to an external referee report, the revised version should be posted to the Publications Archive. If the results or conclusions of the paper have changed substantially, the team is expected to re-announce the paper to the sdss5-general mailing list, but they do not need to wait before re-submitting.
  5. When the paper is accepted for publication, the project team should post the final accepted or published version on the Publications Archive and update the information in the database.
  6. In cases of disputes about credit, authorship, or scientific results, the SPC will work with the author(s) and collaboration members to resolve them. In cases where a dispute cannot be resolved, the issue will be settled by a committee of the Director, Project Scientist, and Spokesperson, with input solicited from the analysis team as needed.

Publications based on projects started with proprietary SDSS-V data must follow the publication procedure outlined in this section, even if the data being used have become public during the project, and before any publications have been finished and posted to the SDSS-V publication page. This was standard practice in SDSS-I/II/III/-IV and will be continued in SDSS-V.

6.2 Author inclusion

A scientific paper will include in its author list any individual who has made a significant contribution to that specific research analysis, along with all Architects who have requested authorship. Authorship requests should be made via the webform available through a link on the Publication Archive page. With the exception of Architects, those requesting co-authorship must include a brief description of their contributions to the project. The first author, in consultation with the analysis team, may determine an acknowledgment is more appropriate in some cases. Anyone who has been placed on a paper’s author list may make a request to the paper’s team contact at any time that her or his name be removed from the paper, and it shall be removed.

We stress that all authors should read and broadly understand the content of all papers which they co-author. SDSS-V’s co-authorship policies reflect the spirit of guidelines outlined by professional societies such as the American Astronomical Society and the American Physical Society and as cited in the PoO. Therefore, all authors share full responsibility for all content in the paper. In addition to following the above policies, lead authors should keep co-authors informed of changes throughout the paper-writing process and their consent obtained as for non-SDSS papers.

6.3 Two-group author order

The scientific achievements of the SDSS are truly collaboration achievements, because the SDSS hardware and software make possible projects that would, in many cases, be unattainable without them. However, an authorship policy that strictly recognizes all scientific papers purely as products of the collaboration (e.g., alphabetical authorship) runs the risk of making the individuals in the project effectively anonymous, and it provides little incentive for project participants to analyze the data quickly rather than wait for data to become public.

Therefore, for most SDSS-V scientific publications, the order of authorship will not be alphabetical. The suggested alternative is a “two-group” system. The first group of authors, the “analysis group”, will consist of those who were directly and substantially involved in the specific analysis described in the paper and in the writing of the paper. The other group will consist of all other authors on the paper, including Architects not included in the first group, and will typically be ordered alphabetically after the analysis group authors.

Membership in the analysis group and order of authorship within the analysis group is decided by those involved in writing the paper, just as they would decide on membership and order in the author list if they were writing a non-SDSS science paper.

6.4 Alphabetical author order

For some large-scope papers, such as data release publications (Section 9), the author list may be alphabetical. To ensure that the publication plan is clear to collaboration members from the start, the announcement of projects (Section 6.1.1) where one or more of the resulting papers is expected to have an alphabetical author list should include this information, along with the planned scope of such papers.

7. Technical Publications

Technical papers have a special status in SDSS-V. As described above in “Types of Papers”, their content differs from scientific papers. As described in this section, they are not subject to the same authorship rules as scientific papers, and their page charges are covered by the project.

7.1 Publication Procedure

  1. Prospective authors of a technical paper must submit to the Technical Publications Coordinator (TPC) a summary of the proposed paper, including a paper outline, expected author list, and a justification for designation as a technical paper. Authors are encouraged to consult with the TPC and the Survey Science Teams during the development of the summary and justification. The TPC will present the proposal to the MC, which will decide in a timely manner whether to designate the work as a technical paper. The MC’s decision in the matter is final.
  2. When the project team has prepared a submission-ready paper, they post it to the Publications Archive (see Section 6.1 for clarification of submission-ready). This announcement must indicate the journal to which the paper will be submitted. The TPC, or a representative of the TPC, will review the paper to ensure that the authorship, references, and acknowledgements fairly represent the contributions made to the publication. All technical publications must contain the standard SDSS-V acknowledgement, which is maintained by the Spokesperson and posted on the Publications Archive.
  3. The TPC and collaboration members have three weeks to send comments and requested changes to the lead author(s). The lead author(s) follows the procedures for revisions in response to comments in Section 6.1.3.
  4. At the end of the three-week comment period or later, the lead author posts the final draft on the Publications Archive and submits the paper to the appropriate journal (and the arXiv, if desired). The contents of the paper may thereafter be quoted in public presentations, etc., by members of SDSS-V. 
  5. When a technical team makes revisions in response to an external referee report, the revised version should be posted to the Publications Archive. If the results or conclusions of the paper have changed substantially, the team should re-announce the paper to sdss-general, but they do not need to wait before re-submitting.
  6. When the technical paper is accepted for publication, the team should post the final accepted or published version on the Publications Archive and update the information in the database.
  7. In the case of disputes about technical publications that the TPC cannot resolve, the matter may be referred to the Spokesperson for a decision. Decisions by the Spokesperson may be appealed to a committee of the Director, Project Scientist, and Spokesperson.

7.2 Author inclusion

Those individuals who have worked on a particular component or subsystem will author the appropriate technical paper, with author order decided by the lead author(s). Non-Participants that are members of private companies can be co-authors as long as they have made substantial contributions to the work in the paper and as long as the paper does not include science or survey commissioning data. Such co-authors will not require approval as External Collaborators, if the paper includes only data taken in order to evaluate the performance of an instrument or its parts (in the lab or through observations of objects in the sky). In such a case, the TPC and/or Spokesperson will be responsible for incorporating the names of the non-Participant co-authors of approved technical papers in the EC database. However, if the paper includes science data or data taken during the survey commissioning phase, such non- Participants must request and obtain External Collaborator status.

In contrast to scientific publications, Architects who are not part of the project team may not request co-authorship. Lead authors should discuss questions or concerns about the author list with the TPC. In addition to following the above policies, lead authors should keep coauthors informed of changes throughout the paper-writing process and their consent obtained as for non-SDSS papers.

8. Infrastructure Papers

Technical Papers are approved by the Management Committee to be the comprehensive, final documentation in the literature of the major technical components of the survey. There are many aspects of the infrastructure efforts, however, that do not readily fall into that category yet are entirely appropriate subjects for publication. An example of an Infrastructure Paper is that during the construction of the project infrastructure, the teams involved in a particular project may wish to publish articles describing the progress of the work. An Infrastructure Paper only describes hardware or software components, and does not contain any scientific data (e.g., targeting or science validation). Citation of the work is not required by other SDSS-V papers (although in lieu of a Technical Paper on the subject, the Publication Coordinators may recommend citing the paper if appropriate).

8.1 Publication Procedure

The Technical Publications Coordinator oversees the publication process for Infrastructure Papers. To receive the designation of an Infrastructure Paper, this status must be approved by the Technical Publications Coordinator prior to the announcement of the project. The procedure for approval is the same as that given in paragraph 7.1.1 above, except that MC approval is not required. The Technical Publication Coordinator’s decision in the matter is final. The basic publication procedure is similar to that for Scientific Papers: the project is announced to the collaboration, a completed draft is later announced to the collaboration, and after a three-week posting period the paper can be submitted unless the Technical Publication Coordinator receives objections deemed relevant. Disputes on Infrastructure Papers are resolved in the same manner as those for Technical Papers.

8.3 Author Inclusion

Authorship is determined by the same process as for Technical Papers (Section 7.2).

9. Data-Release Publications

Major data releases of SDSS-V data will be accompanied by a paper (or papers) describing the contents of these releases. The Scientific Spokesperson will lead, with support from the Mapper Program Heads, the production of journal papers that describe all of the SDSS-V data releases. The schedule for these publications is determined by the schedule for data releases. The Scientific Spokesperson will start the process of writing a SDSS-V data release paper by first announcing a project on the Internal Database.  

9.1 Publication Procedure

  1. When the Spokesperson and Program Heads have prepared a submission-ready paper, they post it to the Publication Archive (Section 6.1). This announcement must indicate the journal to which the paper will be submitted. All data-release papers must contain the standard SDSS-V acknowledgement, which is maintained by the Spokesperson and posted on the Publications Archive.
  2. Collaboration members have three weeks to send comments comments and requested changes to the Spokesperson and Program Heads. The Spokesperson follows the procedures for revisions in response to comments in Section 6.1.3.
  3. The Spokesperson posts the final draft on the Publication Archive and submits the paper to the appropriate journal and the arXiv.
  4. When the Spokesperson makes revisions in response to an external referee report, the revised version should be posted to the Publications Archive.
  5. When the data release paper is accepted for publication, the Spokesperson should post the final accepted or published version on the Publications Archive and update the information in the database.

9.2 Author Inclusion

The Spokesperson and Program Heads, in consultation with the CoCo, shall oversee the author list. All data release papers have alphabetical author lists. Those who have contributed to the writing of the data release paper or who have contributed in a substantive way (typically one month of effort) to the creation or science validation of the data described in the paper are eligible to be authors. Only persons who explicitly request to be co-authors, via the Publication Archive, are included on the author list. In addition to following the above policies, the lead authors should keep co-authors informed of changes throughout the paper-writing process and their consent obtained as for non-SDSS papers. Unresolved disputes about authorship will be settled by the Director and Project Scientist.

10. Colloquia, Conference Presentations, and Conference Abstracts/Proceedings

10.1 Real-Time Presentations

In oral or display presentations, colloquium or conference speakers and presenters may, upon consultation with the project team contact, make use of SDSS-V results that have not (yet) appeared in papers submitted to the Publication Archive and subsequently published or posted to arXiv as a submitted paper. Conference presenters are expected to give appropriate credit to the SDSS-V Collaboration and to those involved in producing the results shown or described. Results should be presented from announced projects only.

10.2 Abstracts, Archived Conference Presentations, and Conference Proceedings

Meeting abstracts that will become publicly available (e.g., AAS, IAU, or EWASS) should be circulated to the relevant Working Groups for comment and co-author requests as early as possible. Abstracts are not subject to the three-week comment period or to accept Architect co-author requests, but authors are encouraged to take advantage of the Collaboration’s expertise. When finalized, abstracts should be uploaded to the Publication Archive and classified as such; this will not send an email to sdss-general, but it will help the SPC and Spokesperson keep track of SDSS-V data being presented. If the conference organizers are uploading the conference proceedings to a publicly accessible site, the relevant working group or survey must be consulted before any material not yet appearing in a submitted (and un-embarged) paper or in a published paper is included. In all cases, only material presented in public by the speakers can be posted to conference websites – e.g., extra slides containing unpublished results must be removed if not presented in public as part of the talk.

If the conference proceedings are being published in some other form (e.g., and will be searchable on ADS), authors are required to follow the publication procedure described in Section 6.1. In special cases, given the realities of conference proceedings submission deadlines, the authors may request from the Spokesperson an exception from some or all of the publication process requirements, such as exemption from including the full SDSS-V Acknowledgments if there is a strict  age limit. Such requests should be submitted to the Spokesperson at least three weeks prior to the proceedings submission deadline.

10.3 Author inclusion

Because of the practical constraints of page limits, abstracts and submissions to conference proceedings are not required to follow the authorship policy of other scientific publications. However, any conference paper that does not follow this authorship policy may only include quantitative results (tables and figures, for example) that based on papers that have been published or submitted for publication, and it must reference those papers as the primary source for the results. The rationale for this requirement is that conference papers authored by a single author or a small group should not become the primary reference for results that are properly products of the SDSS-V Collaboration.

11. Theses

All theses in which SDSS-V data play an essential role must be announced to the collaboration when they are begun, just as with other publications (see Section 6.1). It is the responsibility of each SDSS-V institution to work out a process for publishing theses that is consistent with both SDSS-V and departmental/institutional policies.

Theses based on SDSS-V data should not be distributed to the public via the web or other electronic archives until either the data on which it is based are public or journal articles describing its main results have been published or submitted for publication. Any such distribution should then note the journal articles describing the results, so that they can be appropriately cited by others.

The SDSS-V Spokesperson will maintain a list of announced SDSS-V theses in the Publication Archive. The contents of this list are included in quarterly and annual reports to demonstrate the contribution of the SDSS to graduate education.

Although they would otherwise qualify as scientific or technical papers, some undergraduate or graduate theses will be authored by a single author. However, it is required that the author acknowledge the contribution of the SDSS-V collaboration and reference the papers describing the thesis results that have been published in or submitted to research journals.

12. Dissemination of Time-critical Information

The SDSS-V will detect time-variable events and sources for which timely dissemination to the broader astronomical community will pay big scientific dividends. Participants who carry out programs with SDSS-V data that detect time-critical events are encouraged to report these to the collaboration as a whole and to the broader community through IAU Circulars and the like. Given the space constraints and expense of IAU Circulars, the attribution for the report should read “The Sloan Digital Sky Survey V (see /) reports…”. Relevant finding charts, positions, and photometry drawn from the SDSS data set can be released. Authors of papers reporting time-critical results can also request a shorter review period (outlined in Section 6.1) from the Spokesperson and CoCo if the scientific dividends are high and/or there is a fear of being scooped by others not part of the SDSS-V collaboration. Such cases will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the Spokesperson and the CoCo.

Members of the collaboration who wish to regularly release substantial amounts of time-critical data, such as positions and photometry of asteroids, must request approval from the SDSS-V MC. Upon approval, the project must be posted to the Publications Archive under the category of “Online Catalog”. At this point the project falls under the rules governing Scientific Publications (e.g., three week posting period, authorship rules). Since some (if not all) of these publications will be “living documents”, individuals who contribute to the publication but were not part of the project when it was originally posted can, with approval of the lead author, be added to the list of authors at any time.

13. Page Charges

SDSS-V will not pay page charges for scientific papers from the collaboration. The SDSS-V will pay page charges for approved technical (as in Section 7.1) and data release papers, subject to the budget.

Back to Top