Planning, Preparation and Submission of Data

This page contains information and tools that will guide the planning and preparation of data and metadata for archiving. Templates are provided for preparing and submitting data to the Forest Science Data Bank (FSDB).

Data Management Plans

For information and resources on how to write a data management plan for a grant proposal, please visit the OSU Libraries Research Data Services within the Center for Digital Scholarship and Services.

Submitting Research Databases

What is a Database? A Database consists of data tables, GIS layer(s), remote sensing image(s), and metadata (documentation). Structured and comprehensive metadata are necessary to support database archival and retrieval, the functional re-use of the data both by owners and secondary users, and data quality control.

The Forest Science Data Bank (FSDB) requires complete documentation for long-term maintenance and distribution of study databases. Metadata elements requested in this guide are generally consistent with national standards for metadata, specifically the Ecological Metadata Language (EML) and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).

What is Metadata? Metadata are a component of data which describes the data. Metadata are "data about data", and describes the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data. Without proper documentation, a data set is incomplete.

Why is Metadata Important? Documenting data is critical to preserving its usefulness throughout time. For instance, metadata includes important information on how the data were collected and/or processed. Metadata is frequently utilized as a record in search systems so that users can locate data sets of interest. In the future, analytic tools will assess metadata to determine whether one data set can be properly compared or processed with another.

Steps for Preparing and Submitting Study Metadata and Data: For detailed instructions, including descriptions for templates, please reference the Metadata Instructions guide.

  1. Contact the Andrews Forest Information Managers to establish a database code for your study data.
  2. Provide Study Description metadata (Word template: Database Level Information).
    • This metadata documents general information about a study (title, abstract, purpose, dates, methods, site characteristics, etc.).
    • It is recommended to fill out and save the Word template, and then copy and paste from the form to the online interface. The interface may time out, and the Word template is the backup for your information.
    • To access the interface (described in the "Metadata Instructions" guide), log in to the LTER Administrative Web Page and click "Update Study." Contact an Information Manager if you are unsure of your login credentials.
    • Be sure to reference the LTER Controlled Vocabulary (theme keyword) list (PDF) and the Andrews LTER Preferred Place Keyword list when providing keywords in your documentation.
  3. Provide Data Table(s) (usually a spreadsheet or CSV) or GIS information from your study.
  4. Provide Data Table(s) metadata (Excel template): Entity and Attribute Level Information).
    • This metadata defines the individual data tables (entities) and describes the specific variable fields within each table (attributes). 
    • The "Table of Contents" tab describes the workbook and the process. 
    • This example shows a data table and how it is described.
  5. Provide Geographic Information System (GIS) metadata (instructions: Spatial Data Documentation Guidelines). This metadata documents information related specifically to ESRI GIS data layers. 

Guide, Template, and other Reference Links

  • Metadata Collection Guide (PDF), a comprehensive guide with instructions, including detailed descriptions for both the "Database Level Information" and the "Entity and Attribute Level Information" templates.  
  • Database Level Information (Word document), a template for entering the Study Description/Database Level Information. 
  • Entity and Attribute Level Information (Excel workbook), a template for documenting "Entity and Attribute Level Information". Contains worksheets for documenting the specific attributes and codes within a database.
  • Spatial Data Documentation Guidelines (PDF), a document outlining the process for documenting GIS data.
  • LTER Controlled Vocabulary (theme keyword) list (PDF), provides the theme keywords that should be used for all information products (i.e., databases, publications, analytical tools and photos). The list is hierarchical and includes 10 top-level keywords (categories), second-level descriptive keywords, and third-level finely-detailed keywords. Keywords should be selected from all representative top-level categories, with second- and third-level keywords used when appropriate.
  • Andrews LTER Preferred Place Keyword List (PDF), provides the place keywords that should be used for all information products (i.e., databases, publications, analytical tools and photos). The list includes general locations or land designations such as state, county, or National Forest, Experimental Forest, watershed, river basin, RNA, etc, and generally does not include specific site locations. The list is hierarchic with Oregon regions nested within Oregon, Pacific Northwest, and United States. Specific site locations are added for each study by the Information Manager based on enumerated domains of place-based (location) attributes. Contact the Information Manager if any additions are needed.


For questions and clarification please contact the Forest Science Data Bank Information Manager.


Data management and archiving workshop, April 28th, 2021 (Starts partway through introductions):

Submitting Images to the Image Library

Images should be documented with at least a title, description, photographer, and date. A documentation file called Photo Submit explains necessary metadata and an Excel template is provided for filling out the documentation.


Please send your Andrews Forest related publications (an electronic PDF) to Also, please remember to acknowledge the Andrews Forest or the Andrews LTER in the acknowledgement section of your paper. Suggested text can be found under Acknowledgements.