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Data exchange agreements protect against data misuse and promote early communication between agencies on data processing and use issues. "One of the challenges of the territorial community is to promote data exchange and cooperation between several agencies and organizations at several levels of public, private and associative organizations. The interchangeable and successfully collaborating field of interchangeable data is based on the adoption of guiding principles, the identification of best practices and the recognition of challenges that may include political, scientific and technological issues. (National Geospatial Advisory Committee, 2011) A data exchange agreement is a formal contract that clearly documents what data is being disclosed and how data can be used. Such an agreement has two objectives. First, it protects the authority that provides the data and ensures that the data is not misused. A data-sharing agreement is an agreement between a party with useful data (the Discloser) and a party that searches for data for research on (the recipient) under which the public agrees to share its data with the recipient. These could be two universities that agree to share data for research cooperation, one or more private companies active in research or development, and even a government agency working with a private agency. Confidentiality and disclaimers: there must be a disclaimer covering the accuracy of the data, as well as a description of the data and the corresponding metadata. In addition, a declaration regarding the disclosure of information to third parties is required. This is necessary because a non-federal authority may not be able to protect USGS information from disclosure, and vice versa, because USGS may be forced to disclose information as part of a foia request if no waiver applies. Data exchange agreements are formal contracts detailing the data disclosed and the data used for the data.

Second, it avoids miscommunication by the data provider and the authority receiving the data by indicating that data usage issues are being addressed. Before the data is disclosed, the provider and recipient must speak in person or over the phone to discuss data sharing and data usage issues and reach a common communication, which will then be recorded in a data sharing agreement. The USGS cannot share or share any data sets or data: in the absence of powerful intellectual property rights to protect data and databases in the United States, data exchange agreements work best if they are part of a broader agreement between research partners. An individual agreement on data sharing is not intended to supplant the greater agreement between the partners, but to complement and support a particular aspect of the broader agreement. For a detailed overview of the role of a data-sharing agreement in a larger project among research partners, see Data Sharing: Paige Backlund Jarquin MPH, Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute - Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center. The manual chapter of the USGS Survey 500.26 - Domestic Memorandum of Understanding states: "If necessary, languages are included [in MOUs] such as: All data and information generated as a result of this agreement must be made available to the USGS as part of its current programmes. This includes, if necessary, the publication of the results, unless it is prohibited for well-founded protection and security reasons. If the partner is a foreign unit that does not accept compliance with U.S. law, the agreements must go through the USGS Office of International Programs.

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