Policies and guidelines govern research conducted on National Park Service lands, from initial project permitting through reporting and specimen curation. Links and resources on this page will help you through the process. NPS uses the Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS) to track all aspects of park research projects.
- The document Application Procedures and Requirements for Scientific Research and Collecting Permits is a good starting point if you are considering a park research project.
- General Conditions for a Scientific Research and Collecting Permit outlines researcher responsibilities and expectations.
- Park-specific research information, including contacts and conditions, can be found on the RPRS park page (select a park to view information).
- You can also view research needs that parks have identified. (Suggestion - search by research keywords or by region)
- Keep in mind that some types of cultural research projects, such as archeology, may have specific requirements. Learn more about conducting cultural science research.
Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities
The Department of Interior and the National Park Service have established policies to ensure the quality and integrity of scientific information.
- The Department's website on scientific and scholarly activities is a starting point for learning more about these policies, including the Scientific Integrity Procedures Handbook.
- Director’s Order #79: Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities establishes and defines policies, standards, and procedures pertaining to the National Park Service.
- See Researcher Resources for Specimen Collections, which includes templates and instructions for the transfer of collections data, and information on repository agreements, including specifics on collecting and depositing threatened or endangered animal tissue samples.
- View a Collection FAQ
If you hold a research permit, you're required to submit an Investigator’s Annual Report and copies of final reports, publications, and other materials resulting from the study. Instructions for how and when to submit an annual report are provided by NPS staff. Park research coordinators will analyze study proposals to determine whether copies of field notes, databases, maps, photos, and/or other materials may also be requested.
Additional information about permits and park research can be found on the RPRS Investigator Help Topics page.
Commercial Use of Research Results
Although NPS issues Scientific Research and Collecting Permits solely for scientific and educational purposes, some research results have potential commercial value. As stated in the General Conditions for a Scientific Research and Collecting Permit, commercial applications for research results are prohibited unless the permittee has entered into an approved benefit-sharing agreement with the NPS. Learn more about benefits sharing.
Last updated: October 11, 2022