Why cite data? Giving appropriate attribution to research data improves data discoverability, signals the usefulness and fitness of data, provides citable contributions to the scholarly record, and supports long-term reusability. Many journals and publishers recognize the need to cite data in articles. Here is a list of journals that have open data policies.

Elements of an effective citation

  • Responsible Party (examples: study PI, sample collector, government agency)
  • Name of Table/Map/dataset with any applicable unique IDs
  • Name of Database/Publication/Repository
  • Bibliographic data, such as edition, year, volume, vintage, or version
  • Analysis software
  • Date accessed
  • Persistent URL (such as DOI)
  • Parameters selected

Citation examples


Tables, charts, graphs, maps, or figures appearing in a publication:
United States Bureau of the Census. "Table 151. Retail Prescription Drug Sales: 1995 to 2007." Statistical Abstract of the United States.Year: 2009. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/09s0151.pdf. Accessed: 11/4/09.

Interactive Database with static URLs:
United States Bureau of the Census. "P3. RACE [71] - Universe: Total Population." Dataset: Summary File 1. American FactFinder. Year: 2000. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U&-_lang=en&-mt_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_P003&-format=&-CONTEXT=dt. Accessed: 11/04/09.

Interactive Database without static URLs:
Bureau of Economic Analysis. "Per Capita real GDP by state (chained 2000 dollars)." Dataset: Gross Domestic Product by State. Parameters: all industry total, 2008, all states and regions. Regional Economic Accounts. Date Generated: 11/04/09.

American Chemical Society's Style for Printed Data Sets:
Rind, D. 1994. General Circulation Model Output Data Set. IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series #1994-012. NOAA/NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

See References - American Chemical Society for more detail.

Geoscience Information Society's Style for Data Sets:
Defosse, G.E., and M. Bertiller. 1998. NPP Grassland: Media Luna, Argentina, 1981-1983. Data set. Available on-line [http://www.daac.ornl.gov/] from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A.M

See GSIS Task Force on Geoscience Data - Citation Styles for more detail.

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