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Harvard Forest Data Archive

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Guidelines for Submission of Data & Metadata

Researchers must comply with the current HF Data Policies for all projects based at the Forest. Data and metadata may be submitted via email to the Information Manager. Special arrangements should be made for data files too large to send as email attachments.


The HF Data Archive is organized by dataset. Each dataset contains one or more data files with accompanying metadata. Datasets vary widely in size and scope. Data files in a single dataset typically share common objectives, methods, study sites, funding, and personnel.

Each dataset is assigned a unique ID number (e.g., HF001). This number serves to identify the dataset for information management purposes and has no ordinal significance.


Metadata provide the information required to locate, access, interpret, and use data correctly.

For new projects, please download, complete, and submit the HF Metadata Form. This form may also be used to submit metadata updates (if any) for ongoing projects. Variable-level metadata for individual data files may be included in this form or optionally submitted as separate files.

Keywords should be selected from the LTER Controlled Vocabulary and HF Controlled Vocabulary. See Browse by Keyword for a complete list of all keywords currently in use.

Once received, metadata will be converted by Harvard Forest IT staff to EML (Ecological Metadata Language).


Each dataset should contain the data necessary to support the published findings and to recreate the original analysis.

Tabular data. The preferred formats for submission are Excel spreadsheets or comma-delimited text files. Please do not use spaces or tabs as delimiters. The first line of each file should contain concise variable names in R-compatible format (lower case, separated by periods). Missing values should be indicated by NA. Please avoid using empty fields. Codes must be clearly explained in the accompanying metadata. Numerical values with long decimal fractions may be rounded to be consistent with measurement accuracy.

Spatial data. The preferred formats for submission are ArcGIS or Idrisi files.