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1. Marine National Facility

Funded by the Australian Government since 1984 and overseen by an independent Steering Committee, the CSIRO Marine National Facility (MNF) forms a keystone of the national research infrastructure by providing merit-based access to a blue-water research capability to Australian marine researchers and their international collaborators.

2. Purpose

The MNF Data and Samples Management Policy articulates:

  • definitions, requirements, principles and guidance for users of the MNF regarding the collection, curation, distribution and ownership of Data and Metadata resulting from MNF support
  • principles and guidance for users of the MNF regarding the collection and appropriate curation of Samples resulting from MNF support.

3. Definitions and requirements

Term Definition Requirement


Data sets used to inform research in the form of facts, observations, images, computer program results, recordings, measurements or experiences. Data may be numerical, descriptive, visual or tactile. Data may be raw, cleaned, processed or quality-controlled, generated, acquired, or collated for the work and may be held in any format or media.

Data obtained through access to any MNF Capability are subject to the conditions within this policy.

Data Embargo

A Data Embargo is a period of time during which a specific data set is not released to the public.

Except under exceptional circumstances, a Data Embargo must be applied for prior to a project commencing and will typically only be issued under national security, contractual agreement, commercial-in-confidence arrangement or specific condition.

Data Management Plan

A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a plan for management of MNF Data as defined above.

Principal Investigators must develop a DMP for approval by the MNF prior to the start of each Project.

Data Custodian(s) will be nominated in the DMP and are the person(s) responsible for overseeing the delivery of Project Data and Metadata to the MNF under the terms of this policy. If no Data Custodian(s) are nominated, the Principal Investigator will take on this responsibility.


Metadata are a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.

Metadata enables the management, context, discovery and potential reuse of Data and should also be managed through the Project life so that the value can be realised.

Metadata for all Data acquired on MNF should be created and lodged with the MNF.

This includes Metadata regarding Samples collected through access to any of MNF capabilities.

MNF Capability


  • the ocean class Research Vessel (RV) Investigator or vessels engaged to deliver MNF voyages
  • scientific equipment and instrumentation provided by the MNF
  • MNF marine and atmospheric archive data and data management tools
  • expertise provided by the MNF required to manage ocean-going research platforms and support vessel users.

Any user of MNF Capability must adhere to applicable MNF policies.


Any person responsible for contributing to an approved MNF Project.

Note that Project Participants can be onboard or onshore.

All Participants are required to adhere to applicable MNF policies.

Principal Investigator

The person responsible for overseeing the implementation of a Project.

Principal Investigators are required to ensure a DMP is lodged with the MNF prior to a Project being delivered.


A Project is any activity using MNF Capability.

Data are required to be aligned with a Project.

All Data generated by any Project are subject to the conditions within this policy.


Outcomes from a Project that are reported, including, but not limited to, research papers, reports and articles, published data sets, conference papers and posters.

Principal Investigators are required to notify MNF of all Publications arising from MNF support of their Project.


All tangible material collected in the course of the Project.

Samples are required to be aligned with a Project.

All Samples generated by any Project are subject to the conditions within this policy.

Stream of Access

MNF supports multiple access streams including policy-driven research, discipline-driven research, strategic partnerships, technology development and innovation activities, and User-funded Projects.

This policy is applicable to all streams of access.

4. Inclusions

This policy covers:

  • raw, cleaned, processed and quality-controlled Data and their associated Metadata which are collected and prepared for research purposes
  • Data and Samples collected via support from MNF vessels using both MNF owned and user supplied equipment
  • Data and Samples collected via support from MNF vessels for any Stream of Access.

5. Exclusions

Data products (value-added products that have been derived from raw, cleaned, processed or quality-controlled Data such as modelling and statistical analysis) developed by MNF Participants that use MNF Data are not covered by this policy. However, we request that a Metadata entry is created for data products developed as part of a Project to assist with tracking the value generated from a publicly funded national facility.

Typically, photographs and video taken for personal purposes while participating on a Project are not considered to be Data for the purposes of this policy. However, where an image or video is for the purpose of research, for example, a record of a type of species, unique observation or other Data considered enhanced by imagery, MNF requires an archetype image and/or video for our records and ownership. All other images and video will remain the property of the photographer.

6. Principles

Data collected through access to any MNF Capability are managed in accordance with Open Access and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data management principles.

Due to the range of geographic areas, ecosystems and biodiversity represented by the vast Australian marine estate, a universal sample collection and curation recommendation is impractical. Accordingly, no single sample collection and curation procedure is preferred by the MNF. MNF recognises the inherent value of all Samples collected with our support and favours a flexible approach that supports practical sample retention wherever possible, and encourages researchers to lodge specimens with an appropriate biological, geological or oceanographic institution.

MNF Samples should be collected lawfully, ethically and safely and curated to ensure that they are findable and accessible wherever possible.

7. Data

7.1 Data availability

The MNF is funded by the public and it is, therefore, appropriate that Data are made freely available. Importantly, making Data available demonstrates return on public investment. The default position for the MNF is to make Data freely available and the intended repository for Data is required to be agreed to and recorded in the Data Management Plan developed prior to a Project being delivered.

Data from MNF instruments are largely quality controlled, well described and made publicly available by CSIRO as soon as possible after the completion of each voyage, and no later than 12 months post-voyage.

Data collected with user-supplied equipment on MNF voyages must also be made available to CSIRO or a recognised domain-specific persistent data repository in an internationally accepted domain standard format as soon as possible after the completion of each voyage, and no later than 12 months post-voyage.

A copy of all raw, and processed where applicable, electronic Data collected by user-supplied instruments and descriptions covering all user-supplied instruments and sampling equipment prior to voyage completion is required to be lodged with the MNF. This is to ensure that raw Data is appropriately backed up, archived, well described and accessible via the MNF Data archive, and that a complete description of the equipment used during the voyage is recorded. In addition, Metadata for all Data acquired on MNF voyages using user-supplied equipment must be included in the on-board voyage record prior to voyage completion irrespective of where Data are lodged. These Data are archived and made available to Participants ashore by CSIRO.

The MNF complies with the Australian Government Public Data Policy by ensuring that Data acquired through the MNF is publicly available and accessible to the research community.

7.2 Data Embargo

A Data Embargo will not be issued unless required under national security, contractual agreement, commercial-in-confidence arrangement or specific condition prior to Project commencement.

The MNF Director will consider a period of embargo not applied for prior to a Project only under exceptional circumstances.

To make an enquiry regarding a Data Embargo, please contact the MNF at

Submission of Data and/or Metadata for curation and archiving at CSIRO remains an obligation of Participants, whether or not there is an embargo or an exemption on publication of the Data.

7.3 Exemption from Open Access

The MNF shall not make Data public that are subject to legislative or regulatory requirements that prevent dissemination or that have not been appropriately quality controlled and labelled.

7.4 Ownership of Data

All Data collected through access to MNF Capability (inclusive of data collected using both MNF and user supplied equipment), including any intellectual property rights embodied therein, are owned by CSIRO (inclusive of data products if collector is a CSIRO employee). The agreement signed by organisations accepting sea time also grants the organisation a non-exclusive, royalty free, perpetual, irrevocable licence to use Data relating to their Projects for any purpose.

Data will be published under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC-BY).

7.5 Archival data

All Data collected using MNF Capability is archived by CSIRO. A catalogue of MNF Data collected since its inception in 1984 is maintained and openly available to researchers.

8. Samples

8.1 Collection and storage of Samples

The MNF is funded with public monies and it is therefore appropriate, and consistent with other such publicly owned facilities, that Samples are made freely available to other researchers where possible. Importantly, making Samples widely available is one of the mechanisms by which the MNF can demonstrate return on investment.

Accordingly, all Samples collected using MNF Capability which are appropriate to be retained and curated should be suitably stored onboard and, as soon as possible after the completion of each voyage, be made accessible to other researchers. Where a national repository exists, Samples should be lodged there where possible (ideally through prior agreement with the repository). If there is no suitable repository, Samples may be curated by the Participant’s host organisation.

All Samples and sample identifiers are required to be reported as Metadata to CSIRO. This will be expected to be addressed in the Data Management Plan for each Project.

8.2 Ownership of Samples

All Samples collected using MNF Capability are owned by CSIRO while they are on board MNF vessels. Upon disembarkation, ownership of Samples collected will be transferred to the collector’s organisation or, by prior arrangement, with a national or international sample repository.

8.3 Sample permits

If Samples are to be collected from Australian Commonwealth, State or Territory waters, permits and clearances for work in these areas must be obtained from the relevant agencies.

Permits are required to collect and/or import Samples from:

  • Australian Marine Parks (Marine Protected Areas)
  • Commonwealth areas (Biological Resources)
  • Commonwealth fisheries (Scientific Permits)
  • Protected Fisheries Regions
  • Australian Whale Sanctuary waters
  • Antarctic and Subantarctic waters south of 60°S.

There may be requirements for other areas.

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to obtain all necessary permits and permissions prior to Sample commencement.

8.4 Ethics in Sample collection

Animal research supported by the MNF will conform to the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (the Code). The Code provides an ethical framework and governing principles to guide decisions and actions of all those involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.

The MNF requires all research involving animals be considered by an appropriately licenced animal ethics committee, and written approval provided from that committee, before Project commencement.

8.5 Sample safety

Samples must be collected, handled, stored and transported safely.

If Sample collection requires the use of any class of dangerous goods a relevant Safety Data Sheet will need to accompany the Samples consignment and appropriate safety protocols followed.

9. Acknowledgement of MNF

The MNF must be acknowledged in all outputs derived from Data and/or Samples collected by, or with support from, the MNF. By accessing Data or collecting Samples with the support of the MNF, individuals acknowledge that:

  • they will comply with the MNF Data and Samples Management Policy
  • they will acknowledge the MNF in outputs with a statement adhering to the following form:

“We acknowledge the use of the CSIRO Marine National Facility ( in undertaking this research.”

MNF has adopted a Research Organisation Registry (ROR) persistent identifier to help to ensure the MNF is consistently referenced and described globally. ROR is an open, sustainable, usable and unique identifier registry for every research organisation in the world.

Acknowledgment and citations should be in all forms of publication including presentations (where the acknowledgement should be on the closing slide), journals, books, reports and related research outputs.

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