Data Use Guidelines

FRED Data Use and Intellectual Property Rights – Guiding Principles

We actively encourage the broader scientific community to contribute published and unpublished, past and future, data to FRED.

Here’s the bottom line: When you submit published or unpublished data sources, all persons who contributed to the development of the data set (data contributors) agree that the data will be publicly available through the data portal. Furthermore, all data contributors agree that there is no requirement on either the part of FRED or the persons downloading FRED for analyses (data users) that the data contributors be contacted regarding use of their data. Data users are expected to follow professional scientific norms of citing and referencing inputs to their research. This does not preclude data users from contacting data contributors for purposes of collaboration.

Inclusion of data into FRED

  • Data that have been harvested from peer-reviewed open literature are assumed to be in the public domain and have been included in FRED without contacting the authors for permission. Authors may have been contacted if there was a question about their data. Similarly, data sets that are the result of previous data compilation activities and have been made available to the public through a data archive (e.g., ORNL DAAC) have also been included in FRED without contacting the compilers or the original data contributors for permission. In both cases the data contributor and the complete reference of each data source have been included as meta-data in FRED for all respective observations.

  • As above, published data may be added to the database by FRED data managers as they become publicly available. To facilitate more efficient incorporation and full accuracy of data presentation, researchers are encouraged to become data contributors. Data contributors are encouraged to submit their published data to FRED. Upon submission of published data, all data contributors agree that the data will be publicly available through this website with no requirement that the data contributors be contacted upon the download or use of their data.

  • We are only soliciting unpublished data that data contributors are willing to make freely available to the broader community with unrestricted access. These data may include, for example, more detail on published data (e.g., data from individual replicates rather than the published plot mean, or untransformed data from aggregate statistical analysis), or data that have never been included in a publication. Upon submission of unpublished data, all data contributors agree that the data will be publicly available through this website with no requirement that the data contributors be contacted upon the download or use of their data. Researchers who contribute unpublished data will become data contributors and will also be listed as authors on the DOI for the release of the version of FRED that contains their data.

    We provide a searchable list of published and unpublished data sources that have been incorporated into FRED thus far.

Data use and referencing FRED

Beginning in early June 2018, the data in FRED 2.0 will be publicly available, with open access, and without charge.

Users are requested to:

  • Reference the FRED database with the following data citation and DOI in any resulting publications or data synthesis products:

    Iversen CM, Powell AS, McCormack ML, Blackwood CB, Freschet GT, Kattge J, Roumet C, Stover DB, Soudzilovskaia NA, Valverde-Barrantes OJ, van Bodegom PM, Violle C. 2018. Fine-Root Ecology Database (FRED): A Global Collection of Root Trait Data with Coincident Site, Vegetation, Edaphic, and Climatic Data, Version 2. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TES SFA, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. Access on-line at:
  • Ensure traceability of FRED data and reproducibility of your analyses. Where possible or feasible, cite the original papers or data sources that you used in your analysis as they are listed in FRED (this could be a separate table or list in your publication). Describe the criteria that you used to subset the FRED data (e.g., spatial or temporal limits, species, trait types, etc.) so that another user could repeat the process.

  • Send a citation or copy of your publication to FRED.

    We would like to know that FRED data are being used (and so would our Sponsors), and other potential users may like to see how FRED data have been applied.

  • Provide feedback to FRED.
    Are there any mistakes in the data or units? How can we improve the website, data search capabilities, etc.? Are there additional root trait data that should be added to FRED?


Data users are encouraged to use the name and contact information of the data contributors included for each data source if they would like to pursue a collaboration.