The science objectives of the NVO has been defined by a number of workshops, groups, and publications. Of particular interest are:
- Towards the National Virtual Observatory: A Report Prepared by the National Virtual Observatory Science Definition Team (chair S. G. Djorgovski)
- The NAS Decadal Report, Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium
- Toward a National Virtual Observatory: Science Goals, Technical Challenges, and Implementation Plan -- a White paper outlining the vision of the National Virtual Observatory
- Grids and the Virtual Observatory Roy Williams, in Grid Computing: Making The Global Infrastructure a Reality by Fran Berman, Anthony J.G. Hey, and Geoffrey Fox, Wiley, 2003, pp 837-858.
- The World-Wide Telescope by A. Szalay & J. Gray, Science, 293, 2037 (2001)