Updates to the Rubin Data Policy

The Rubin Operations team is pleased to announce that several important amendments and updates to the Rubin Data Policy have been made. The current version of the Data Policy, document RDO-013, is always available here for your reference.

The Data Policy is a living document that may be updated from time to time based on community input and clarifications or additions by the Rubin team, our managing organizations AURA and SLAC, or the DOE and NSF.

The original tracked version of the Data Policy was presented in late 2019. At that time many community inputs had been adopted. Some input, most based on the considerable work and advocacy of the Science Advisory Committee and Science Collaboration Chair persons, took longer to fully merge into the document. The Rubin Data Policy is closely reviewed by the Rubin Operations Management Board and the US funding agencies.

We are now reporting on several important additions that are closely related to the ability of young researchers to confidently make career choices around significant effort committed to the Rubin Observatory science enterprise and the Legacy Survey of Space and Time.

Updates include:

  • Adding Rubin Operations to the Construction project for purposes of defining LSST Builder status. Completing two full years equivalent work on Rubin Operations (2 FTE) counts for builder status just as it has for construction effort. The Rubin Observatory directorate approves such requests based on actual effort charged or tracked to the project. Builders have permanent data rights as defined in RDO-013 no matter where they are in the world (see RDO-013 for details, data rights can be rescinded for misconduct and countries must have at least one institution with data rights holders for a builder to take their rights there).
  • A new category of builder has been established: LSST Science Community Builder. Members of the LSST Science Collaborations and the broader science community can request (or be nominated for) LSST Science Community Builder status after documenting 2 FTE worth of effort toward the “development and operations of needed infrastructure within one of the LSST Science Collaborations, or elsewhere in the LSST Science Community.” Like LSST Builders, LSST Science Community Builders get permanent data rights. Candidates must already hold data rights during the period they claim effort for Community Builder status.

The new data rights updates ensure that young researchers who contribute significantly to Rubin can be assured that their future career paths will include access to Rubin data, especially for those who may move outside the US or Chile (where they would otherwise always have access) or from one international institution to another.

The bar for achieving Community Builder status is purposefully set high, and is based fundamentally on building infrastructure for all of the LSST science community, not for doing one’s own research. If you think you want to be a Community Builder be sure to work with your Science Collaboration chair or talk to the Rubin Directorate directly to ensure the type of effort you are contemplating will count. Most researchers will work very hard on producing science from Rubin and the LSST, but some will do so in such a way that helps build the shared software, datasets, and collaboration structures that we all benefit from. We’re working on guidelines for potential LSST Science Community Builders, and the process for granting Builder status, and will post further updates on this as we go.

Another important aspect of data rights, again mainly for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers is how to continue if you leave your institution and are outside the US or Chile (and not a builder). The so-called “grace period” allows junior researchers who move to a place without data rights to have continued access to the LSST data “on hand” at the time of their change in residency/institution. The grace period for international members was not specified in earlier versions of the Rubin Data Policy. This has been clarified: for international junior associates (attached to a PI in a non US or Chilean institution), the grace period will be explicitly defined in the Data Rights Agreement (DRA) signed by the international institution and NSF, DOE, SLAC, or AURA. What this does is close a loophole where early career scientists could have lost data rights simply through lack of policy coverage; we will now turn our attention to the DRA design with those scientists and their data rights in mind.

We invite your continued feedback and interest in this topic and others as we move toward operations.