The current phase of SDSS, like all previous phases, is carried out by an international collaboration of hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions. The scientific achievements of the SDSS have been enabled by the technical and financial contributions, and the collective scientific expertise, of this vibrant collaboration.

The active operational phase of the SDSS-IV project began at Apache Point Observatory on the night of July 1, 2014 and ran through the night of August 23, 2020, and began at Las Campanas Observatory on the night of February 15, 2017 and ran through the night of January 20, 2021. The final data release for SDSS-IV (DR17) occurred in December 2021.

SDSS-IV is being followed by SDSS-V, which began taking data in October 2020. Policies for joining SDSS-V can be found in the SDSS-V Joining Document.

The SDSS-IV Advisory Council is the collaboration's governing body, formulating recommendations on project scope and budget to the Board of Governors of the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC), which has responsibility for all activities at Apache Point Observatory. Collaboration policies are developed and implemented by the SDSS-IV Collaboration Council (CoCo), which has a representative from all of the full and associate institutional partners. The CoCo is chaired by the SDSS-IV Spokesperson, who is elected by the collaboration for a 3-year term.

For more detailed information about the SDSS-IV collaboration and how it operates, please see the important policy documents below. Equivalent documents for SDSS-V can be found on the SDSS-V Website.


The top-level governing policy for SDSS-IV is the Principles of Operation document. This was updated from the SDSS-III Principles of Operation. The SDSS-V Principles of Operation are also available.

More detailed implementation policies, most importantly the Publication Policy and the External Collaborator Policy, are developed by the CoCo and approved by the Advisory Council.

The three main collaboration policies used within the SDSS-IV project are described below. Similar but distinct documents exist for SDSS-V. SDSS-IV policies remain active after the final SDSS-IV data release, for projects/publications which began before the data release.

Publication Policy

The publication policy outlines how SDSS publications are created and organized. The SDSS-IV Publication Policy, an update to the policies of SDSS-I/II/III, is available here.

External Collaborators

The procedures for requesting external collaborator status, as well as other external participant rules, are viewable here. The SDSS-IV policies are similar to those adopted for SDSS-I/II/III.

Data Use Policy

All SDSS data released in our public data releases is considered in the public domain.

Image Use Policy

We provide all images on a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY). Any SDSS image on the SDSS Web site may be downloaded, linked to, or otherwise used for any purpose, provided that you maintain the image credits. Unless otherwise stated, images should be credited to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

We note that

  • Your use of the image does not imply our endorsement of any product or service
  • If the image is to be used on a Web page, we also ask as a courtesy that you provide a link back to our site at

All SDSS data released in our public data releases is considered in the public domain.

Any questions about image use should be directed to the ARC Corporate Office via ARC’s Business Manager as follows:

Alim Patten
ARC Business Manager
c/o Department of Astronomy, Box 351580
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Phone: +1-206-616-0035

Please provide the exact URL of the image you are inquiring about.

If you have further questions about the appropriate usage or credits for SDSS images, please contact the SDSS helpdesk.

Survey Science Teams & Working Groups

Each of the individual surveys has its own Survey Science Team (SST), which acts as the highest level of working group (WG) for science associated with that survey.

Additional information on SSTs and WGs can be found in the Publication Policy and on this page.

As described in the Principles of Operation and the Publication Policy, all science projects using non-public SDSS data must be announced to the Collaboration via the project-list web page when they are initiated. At a level above these individual projects, which will typically encompass one or several papers led by a few active team members, scientists may wish to collaborate and coordinate in larger groupings and thus create a "working group" (WG) for the sharing of common knowledge, facilities and information.

The SDSS also maintains an active Committee on Inclusiveness (COINS).

For New SDSS-IV Members

We provide a useful guide to getting started in the SDSS-IV collaboration.

New members of SDSS-V should look at information for that project on the SDSS-V Collaboration Starting Guide.

We request that the following be added to the acknowledgment section of any paper using data from the SDSS-IV.

Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the Participating Institutions. SDSS acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS web site is

SDSS is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS Collaboration including the Brazilian Participation Group, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA), the Chilean Participation Group, the French Participation Group, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, The Johns Hopkins University, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) / University of Tokyo, the Korean Participation Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leibniz Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA Heidelberg), Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik (MPA Garching), Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), National Astronomical Observatories of China, New Mexico State University, New York University, University of Notre Dame, Observatório Nacional / MCTI, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, United Kingdom Participation Group, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Oxford, University of Portsmouth, University of Utah, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.

Find out more about how to cite SDSS-IV and earlier phases of SDSS, as well as a LaTeX template at How to Cite SDSS.