Skip to Main Content

Research Data Management

Purpose of Citing Data

If you have used someone else’s dataset for your research, you should give proper credit to its creators.

Placement within Your Paper

  • Data citations should be placed in the section specified by the publisher (e.g. Data coverage section; Acknowledgement section, etc).
  • If no section is suggested for datasets, place them in the Bibliography or References section.

Components of a Dataset Citation

At minimum, these elements should be present in any dataset citation:

  • Author (creators of the dataset)
  • Title (of the dataset)
  • Publication date (of the dataset)
  • Publisher (name of repository where the data is published)
  • Version number (of the dataset, if any)
  • Location (URL / DOI to access the dataset)

The way these elements would be arranged, or combined together in the finished citation, would depend on the citation style requirements of the publisher.

Styles for Citing Datasets

  • Always use the citation style specified by the publisher.
  • Some styles, such the APA 6th Edition style, provide instructions on how to cite datasets. (See example)
  • Most styles (e.g. MLA, Chicago) have no instructions on how to cite datasets. If that is the case, follow the instructions on how to cite for electronic resources (e.g. online journal article).
  • Most data repositories (e.g. Dataverse, Dryad, etc) provide a ‘recommended’ citation format that you can copy and paste easily, or export to your citation management software. You need to check and make sure you re-arrange the elements so that they match the style requirements of your publisher.

Saving Data Citations in Citation Management Software

When saving a data citation to your citation management software (e.g. EndNote), remember to specify the Reference Type as “dataset”. By doing this, if your chosen citation style (e.g. APA 6th Edition) has a predefined format for citing datasets, that format will be applied to the citation when you insert it into your paper.

[Reference Type selection box at the top right hand side of EndNote Screen]

If “dataset” is not available in the list of Reference Types (Note: other software may call this field Item Type or Document Type), select an electronic resource type (e.g. online journal article).

Useful Resources

Other Universities' Guides on Citing Data

Here are some guides from other universities on citing datasets:

Further Readings

A one-page chart that compares the presence of data citation instructions in different citation style guide manuals. Produced by Purdue University and Michigan State University.

This comprehensive guide will help you create links between your academic publications and the underlying datasets, so that anyone viewing the publication will be able to locate the dataset and vice versa. It provides a working knowledge of the issues and challenges involved, and of how current approaches seek to address them.