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Data Citation Guide

Proper citation of data has both immediate and long term benefits for data producers and data consumers. For data producers, citation ensures that they receive credit for their work. Moreover, consistently cited data creates a bibliographic "trail" much like the citation counts traditionally associated with journal articles. This allows data producers to demonstrate the impact of their work. For data consumers, citation makes it easier to find datasets for replication, or for exploring new research questions.

Components of a Data Citation

Citing data is similar to citing publications, and there are many "correct" formats to use depending on your discipline, instructor requirements, or publisher requirements. However, not all citation or style guides include instructions for how to cite data, so it is important to check with your instructor, editor, or other appropriate authority for feedback on your citations. Absent clear guidance, consider including the following information (if it is available) in your data citations:

  • creator(s) or contributor(s)

  • date of publication

  • title of dataset

  • publisher

  • identifier (e.g. Handle, ARK, Digital Object Identifier) or URL of source

  • version, when appropriate

  • date accessed, when appropriate

For example citations in different formats, including recommendations for common styles that do not include instructions for data citations, see below.

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Data Citation Format Examples

See this slideshow for example data citations in common formats.

Cite Your Data Right (November 2020)

See also these example citation formats recommended by select data repositories. 

DataCite (guidelines)

Barclay, Janet Rice (2013) Stream Discharge from Harford, NY. Cornell University Library's eCommons @ Cornell.

Solar Maximum Mission Coronagraph/Polarimeter project team and NASA. (1997) Solar Mission Maximum Mass Coronal Ejection Image 26 Oct 1986 [DOY 299]. High Altitude Observatory.

Malekjani, Shokoufeh (2012) Microstructural response of nanocrystalline Al to cyclic loading. Deacon Research Online.

DRYAD (guidelines)

Yannic G, Pellissier L, Dubey S, Vega R, Basset P, Mazzotti S, Pecchioli E, Vernesi C, Hauffe HC, Searle JB, Hausser J (2012) Data from: Multiple refugia and barriers explain the phylogeography of the Valais shrew, Sorex antinorii (Mammalia: Soricomorpha). Dryad Digital Repository. doi:10.5061/dryad.2jj36325

Figshare (guidelines)

17,170 Base Pair Alignment of Thirteen Time-Extended Lineages (data: (complete) mtDNA; format: ClustalW). Tommy Rodriguez. Figshare. Retrieved 00:14, Oct 07, 2013 (GMT)

ICPSR (guidelines)

Jacob, Philip, and Henry Teune. International Studies of Values in Politics, 1966. ICPSR07006-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1978. doi:10.3886/ICPSR07006.v1

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Related Information

CODATA Data Citation Standards and Practices Task Group. CODATA. A description of CODATA's efforts toward data citation standards and practices.

Data Citation. Australian National Data Service (ANDS). Clear guidance from the Australian National Data Service. 

Get Recognition: Data Citation. The DataVerse Network.

Provide a citation and document provenance for your dataset. DataONE Part of DataONE's Best Practices for managing data.

The Ethics of Data Sharing and Reuse in Biology. Duke, Clifford S. and John H. Porter. BioScience 63(6):483-489. 2013. A thoughtful treatment of citation and co-authorship issues with respect to data reuse.

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