The RI Natural History Survey (RINHS) Database is the reference standard database for the collection and dissemination of data on the plants, animals and habitats of Rhode Island. The policy presented here defines the requirements and conditions related to submission and access of data.


The RINHS Database is intended to serve both the scientific and general public communities with an interest in the biota of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. RINHS is committed to the widest possible dissemination of these data.


These policies apply to the submissions of data from the scientific and naturalist communities as well as to the use of all data in the RINHS Database by the varied user constituencies.

The continued usefulness of the RINHS Database is dependent upon data contributions. Members of the scientific community as well as experienced naturalists are encouraged to submit data additions and revisions. Advice from members of the user community of additional sources of data is solicited.

Submission of Data

All data submitted for inclusion in the RINHS Database are expected to be available for use by all members of the RINHS user community. Exclusions may apply to data concurrently submitted for publication, subject to agreement by RINHS and the originator of the data.

Data submitted to the RINHS Database should provide all available metadata, including:

  • Measurement procedures
  • Data analysis
  • Information related to quality standards
  • Contact information
  • Credit information

Submitters should refer to Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) metadata standards when preparing their submissions.

Data quality is the responsibility of the data originator.

In the case of species not previously reported in Rhode Island, RINHS reserves the right to verify the record, may request additional supporting information including photographic documentation, collected specimens, precise location and other data as appropriate. Further, RINHS may require corroboration by a recognized authority.

RINHS performs regular data backup and will make all reasonable attempts to maintain the integrity of the RINHS Database. However, RINHS cannot guarantee availability of data stored and cannot warrant against hardware or software failure. Submitters should maintain copies of their original data.

Use of Data

RINHS makes data in the RINHS Database available in a non-restricted manner. Users of these data are bound by the following conditions of use:

Users are responsible for data interpretation consistent with scientific analysis standards and appropriate usage. Users are strongly advised to review both the submitted data and metadata in determining suitability of the entries.

Use of these data does not convey expressly or otherwise RINHS substantiation, support or approval of the user’s work, results, conclusions or recommendations.

All use of RINHS data requires acknowledgment of the data originator(s). In addition, users must include the following credit line:

“Data obtained from the RI Natural History Survey Database”

in all published documents or presentations using these data.

Users must adhere to all restrictions placed on use of data, including but not limited to, restriction on use for commercial purposes.

Inclusion of data in the RINHS Database does not imply RINHS verification of data quality. All issues of data quality remain the responsibility of the data originator.

RINHS will make every reasonable attempt to maintain the integrity of the RINHS Database including regular backup of all data as well as regular maintenance and upgrade of hardware and software used to provide database services. However, RINHS cannot be held responsible for inconvenience or loss that results from database unavailability.

Users are obliged to notify RINHS of suspected inaccuracies or other problems with data.

Supplemental Information

Restrictions on Data

Earliest possible submission of data to the RINHS Database is requested. Early submission will assure that the RINHS Database remains current and extensive. The intention of the RINHS Database is to provide information on the biota of Rhode Island in the most timely fashion with the widest possible dissemination. Restrictions on data distribution or availability necessarily work against this goal. Therefore it is the general policy of RINHS to not place any access or usage restrictions on submitted data. RINHS may choose to place restrictions on certain types of sensitive data. For example, data on precise localities of rare plant or animal populations may be generalized (e.g., by providing location as a general locality or township). RINHS will determine the merit of cases where precise data on sensitive species are required when such requests arise.

In the instance of data which have been accepted for publication, RINHS will delay adding such data to the database until publication. This restriction must be explicitly stated and agreed to at the time of data submission.

Data restricted to non-commercial use must clearly specify this at the time of submission and should indicate an expiration period for this restriction.

Data Quality

Data quality is the responsibility of the data originator.

RINHS may, in limited instances, attempt some degree of quality control. Data in the RINHS Database are periodically reviewed by specialists in the field. Further, in assistance to data users, RINHS will indicate whether the submitted data has been subjected to an external peer review or not, has been submitted from a recognized scientific source or is the work of a qualified amateur naturalist. These actions do not affect or reassign quality responsibility from the originator.

In no instance do any quality control measures imply liability on the part of either RINHS or the data originator for correctness or misinterpretation of the data. Any use of these data should follow good scientific analysis procedures and is the solely the data user’s responsibility.

Data Request Fees

In order to support the time that for processing data requests, RINHS must charges fees to parties wishing to use the databases. Fees vary depending on the length of time needed to fulfill the data request. Data licenses are also be available for a one-year subscription to the database.

Data request fees may be waived in cases where the request originator is a contributor to the database, or for non-profit groups with insufficient resources.

[last revised: December 2006]