Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is BCO-DMO?

BCO-DMO is the Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office. (Our acronym is pronounced as "Bee-Co Dee-Mo".) BCO-DMO curates a database of research-ready data spanning the full range of marine ecosystem-related measurements including in-situ and remotely-sensed observations, experimental and model results, and synthesis products. We work closely with investigators to publish data and information from research projects in accordance with F.A.I.R. (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data policies.

Who funds BCO-DMO?

BCO-DMO is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE). Our current award is OCE-1924618. Past awards include OCE-1435578 and OCE-1031253.

Who are the people at BCO-DMO?

BCO-DMO is made up of several Data Managers, who curate and publish datasets, as well as Application Programmers, who maintain our technical infrastructure. We are advised by our sciences PIs and by our Strategic Planning Committee. Contact information can be found on our website at

Who can contribute data to BCO-DMO?

BCO-DMO primarily accepts data from researchers funded by the National Science Foundation's Biological and Chemical Oceanography sections, but there are several other programs and funders that we support. See our "Can I Contribute?" page for more information.

What are NSF's requirements for data management?

NSF has a well-defined data management policy section contained within the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). Specific directorates, divisions, programs, or other units of NSF may also have additional data management policies. The Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) updated its Sample and Data Policy in 2016. Of note is the requirement that data collected by researchers funded by NSF must be made publically available within two years of the data collection/production.

What is an NSF Data Management Plan?

Every proposal to NSF must include a Data Management Plan (DMP) that includes information about how the results of the proposed research will be made available and accessible to the public in a timely manner. See our "Data Management Plan" page for guidance on preparing NSF DMPs, including a DMP Template.

How do I get started?

The first step for working with us is to register your project. Projects can be registered once your proposal has been funded or is being recommended for funding by your NSF Program Manager. When you're ready to submit data, our online Submission Tool can be used to provide your datasets and metadata. Instructions for Project Registration and Dataset Submission can be found under the "Contribute" section.

When should I contact BCO-DMO?

At the time your award is granted, your NSF program manager will likely direct you to register your project with us. You can contact us with questions at any time by emailing [email protected].

What types of data can BCO-DMO manage?

BCO-DMO can deal with a wide variety of data, including but not limited to biological, chemical, and physical oceanography measurements, and experimental and model results. We routinely deal with CTD, biological abundance, meteorological, nutrient, pH, carbonate, PAR, sea surface temperature, heat and momentum flux, sediment composition, trace metals, primary production, and pigment concentration measurements, and with images and movies. See "What is a Dataset?" for more information.

What file formats can BCO-DMO accept?

BCO-DMO manages a wide variety of data types and formats. These are described in more detail under "Dataset Types" on the "What is a Dataset?" page.

Does BCO-DMO have any guidelines for submitting data as a spreadsheet?

Yes, we do. Please review our "Data Table Organization" page.

My data are online already. Do I need to send my data to BCO-DMO too?

The NSF OCE Data Policy has specific requirements about where data are expected to be published and archived. Providing access via a project-specific website is not likely to be sufficient in meeting NSF's requirements because these types of websites usually do not persist long-term nor do they provide long-term archiving of data. However, if your data are already online in another NSF-approved data repository, it may not be necessary to submit those data to BCO-DMO as well. If your data are already online elsewhere, we encourage you to contact us at i[email protected] to determine if data or metadata should be submitted to us as well. We also advise speaking with your NSF program manager if you have any questions about the best place to publish your data online.

How should I submit large data files to BCO-DMO?

Please see the "Large Data Files" page for guidance.

How much metadata is necessary?

The information contained in the metadata should be sufficient to allow another researcher to make use of your data and, in a sense, to be able to recreate it. For example, metadata should include a description of the sources of your data (names of the instruments or software model(s) used), how you processed these data, and how they were analyzed. You should also provide a definition and units of measurement for every column in the dataset. Please refer to the "Metadata for Datasets" page for more detailed information on what we require in metadata.

Can my project get free help from BCO-DMO to manage my data?

BCO-DMO is funded by the US National Science Foundation to provide data management services at no additional cost to projects funded by specific NSF programs/sections. The full list of programs we support can be found on the "Can I Contribute?" page.
If your data are not NSF-funded but they fit within BCO-DMO's disciplinary scope, it may be possible to obtain data management services from BCO-DMO. These are typically prioritized after NSF data and are on a fee-for-service basis. Costs are decided after review of the data. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

What can I do to make the management of my data easier?

We are glad you asked! Please read our "Data Table Organization" and "Metadata for Datasets" sections. Under the "Prepare" section, we also have guidance for specific data types and projects. If your situation is unique and you can't find the guidance you need here, please reach out to [email protected].

If I need help, who should I call at BCO-DMO?

You can send an email to [email protected] or contact a particular person.

What formats are available for downloading data from BCO-DMO?

The vast majority of datasets at BCO-DMO can be downloaded as comma-separated ASCII files. In some cases, images, videos, or other file types, like Matlab, may also be available. Data files can be found on the Dataset Landing pages. Many of our datasets are also available in ERDDAP. The BCO-DMO ERDDAP server provides access to downloadable subsets of our datasets in common file formats such as Python, R, Javascript, and MATLAB, with the capability of creating graphs and maps.

How can the data at BCO-DMO be accessed?

Any standard web browser including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, as well as Internet Explorer can access data managed by BCO-DMO by going to BCO-DMO's ERDDAP server also provides access to our datasets.

How should I cite data from BCO-DMO?

Each dataset landing page has a "Cite This Dataset" button in the upper right-hand corner. We recommend using the suggested citation displayed there. See our "Attribution" page for more information on data citation and terms of use.

Where does BCO-DMO archive the data?

BCO-DMO endeavors to archive the data we manage with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). However, we also submit an immutable copy of all published data receiving a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) with the Woods Hole Open Access Server (WHOAS), which is run by the Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Library (a CoreTrustSeal certified institutional repository located at WHOI).

Are there parallel data management offices for physical and geological oceanography?

How do I request the R2R event log capability on my upcoming cruise on a UNOLS vessel?

Please contact R2R. Their contact information can be found at

What is the JGOFS/GLOBEC data management system?

The "JGOFS/GLOBEC data management system" is the name of the system BCO-DMO previously used to make data available online. This system was retired in 2023 when we implemented new tools and programs for publishing our datasets.

How can I contact BCO-DMO if I still have questions?

The best way to contact BCO-DMO is to send an email to [email protected]. You can expect to receive a reply within two business days. Please make sure to check your junk/spam folders in case our emails were mistakenly routed there.
If you are already working with a Data Manager on a particular dataset feel free to email them directly about your data. However, general questions should go to [email protected] so they can be registered in our system.
Last modified 3mo ago