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Research Data Management: Citing Data

Why Cite Data?

Data sets can be cited in scholarly papers. If you allow a citation to be created for your data, you could get more credit for your work. Additionaly, when using data sets, ensure that you cite the set correctly so that other researchers can find the data you are referring to. It brings more credibility to your work. 

More on why you should cite your data

Creating a Data Citation

Citations for data sets are not yet standardized, however, a data set citation should include at least the following pieces of information, which will be arranged according to the style you use:

  • author or creator
  • title or description
  • year of publication
  • publisher and/or the database/archive from which it was retrieved
  • the URL or DOI if the data set is online

Certain styles may also ask for additional information such as:

  • edition or version
  • date accessed online

One of the most commonly used citation formats is the American Psychological Associaton(APA) Style. When citing research data with APA, add a description of the type of resource in brackets after the title. For example:

Schonfeld, R.C., and Housewright, R. (2011). Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey 2009: Key Strategic Insights for Libraries, Publishers, and Societies (ICPSR version) [Data file].Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. doi:10.3886/ICPSR30001.

You will notice that this example contains all of the information listed above except for the date accessed online, which is not required for APA. For data sets without a title, APA recommends that you use a short description of the content of the resource in brackets in place of the title.


(courtesy of Queen's University)

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