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What is data citation?

Data citation refers to the practice of providing a reference to data in the same way as researchers routinely provide a bibliographic reference to outputs such as journal articles, reports and conference papers. Citing data is increasingly being recognised as one of the key practices leading to recognition  of data as a primary research output. This is important because:

  • when datasets are routinely cited they will achieve greater validity and significance within the scholarly communications cycle
  • citation of data enables recognition of scholarly effort with the potential for reward based on data outputs
  • the use of data should be appropriately attributed in scholarly outputs as with other types of publication.

Assigning a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to data facilitates data citation and is considered best practice. A DOI is a type of persistent identifier that indicates a dataset will be well managed and accessible for long term use. It is now routine practice for publishers to assign  DOIs to journal articles and for authors to include them in article citations. The ANDS DOI Service (Cite My Data) allows Australian research organisations to mint DOIs for datasets and collections so they can be included in data citations.

Data citation is international best practice:

More resources

A comprehensive list of Data Citation webinars is available via the ANDS YouTube channel.

Read:

  • Mons, B., Haagen, H. van, Chichester, C., Hoen, P.-B. 'T, Dunnen, J. T. den, Ommen, G. van, et al. (2011). The value of data. Nature Genetics, 43(4), 281-3. DOI:10.1038/ng0411-28

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Building a Culture of Data Citation poster

Free printed copies of the poster in pamphlet form are available by emailingguides@ands.org.au.

Benefits of data citation

Why cite data?

Citation of data brings numerous benefits for researchers and institutions. For example:

  • Evidence suggests that including citable data in related publications increases the citation rate of those publications.
  • Routine citation of data will assist in gaining acknowledgement of data as a first class research output.
  • Citations for published data can be included in CVs and biographical sketches along with journal articles, reports and conference papers.
  • Only cited data can be counted and tracked (in a similar manner to journal articles) to measure impact.

Benefits of adding DOIs to finalised data sets

Wilson, B. et al. (2010). Enhancing The Recognition, Reusability, And Transparency Of Scienfic Data Using Digital Object Identifiers, IDCC Conference, Viewed online 08.02.16.

Why include a DOI in data citations?

While data may be cited without a DOI, assigning a DOI to data and including it in a data citation is considered best practice. DOIs provide additional benefits such as:

  • Easy and persistent access to research data available via the internet
  • Enhanced discovery, retrieval and management of data to enable data reuse and verification of research results.
  • Support for automated tracking of data outputs:

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How to cite research data

Data citation styles continue to evolve and vary across disciplines and publishers. DataCite recommends using one of the following formats:

  • Mandatory citation elements only
  • Hanigan, Ivan (2012): Monthly drought data for Australia 1890-2008 using the Hutchinson Drought Index. The Australian National University Australian Data Archive.
    http://doi.org/10.4225/13/50BBFD7E6727A
  • Including version and resource type
    Bradford, Matt; Murphy, Helen; Ford, Andrew; Hogan, Dominic; Metcalfe, Dan (2014): CSIRO Permanent Rainforest Plots of North Queensland. v2. CSIRO. Data Collection.
    http://doi.org/10.4225/08/53C4CC1D94DA0

You can use the DataCite DOI Citation Formatter, a service created in collaboration with CrossRef, to format your citation.  The DataCite format is used to display the citationMetadata element in collection records in Research Data Australia, for example:

  • Hanigan, Ivan. (2010) Meteorological Data for Australian Postal Areas . Australian Data Archive. DOI: 10.4225/13/50BBFCFE08A12

Not all datasets have a DOI that can be referenced in a citation and alternatives to the DataCite citation style do exist. The basic APA style for citing data is shown in the example below:

Read more about citing data and see examples of more citation styles and formats.

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Implementing data citation

Does your institution want to support data citation through its systems and processes? Are you a data custodian, such as a researcher, wanting to ensure your data is citable and cited? Are you an author wanting to attribute data in a publication  you are preparing? If so, there a few simple  steps  to  follow.  Follow  the  links  below  to  learn  more  about  how  to  implement data citation.

For Institutions

For Researchers