Field observations of the soil-to-atmosphere CO2 flux—soil respiration, RS—are a prime example of ‘long tail’ data that historically have had neither centralized databases nor an agreed-upon reporting format. This has hindered scientific transparency, analytical reproducibility, and syntheses with respect to this globally-important component of the carbon cycle. Here we propose a new data and metadata reporting format for RS data, based on engagement with a wide range of researchers in the earth and ecological sciences as well as expert advisory panels. Our goal was a reporting format that would be relevant and useful for synthesis activities, optimizing data discoverability and usability while not placing an undue burden on data contributors. We describe previous RS data collection efforts, lessons learned from related databases and data-oriented networks (e.g., FLUXNET) in earth and ecological sciences, and the process of community consultation. The proposed reporting format focuses on chamber-level data and metadata, specifying measurement conditions and, for a given measurement period defined by beginning and ending timestamps, a mean RS flux (or CO2 concentration) and associated ancillary measurements. With input from the research community, we have also developed research data and metadata templates to support data collection adhering to the reporting format. Fundamentally, this format aims to enable findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable data, while providing ‘future-proofing’ capabilities to support reanalyses using as yet unknown algorithms or approaches. This proposed RS reporting format is openly available online and is intended to be a dynamic document, subject to further community feedback and/or change.