Data Citing Guidance

Recent guidelines from federal agencies, institutions, and journal publishers encourage researchers to share their raw data. Shared data can be located in places such as repositories or on departmental Web sites, and their use requires the inclusion of a citation in a manuscript’s reference list, as would be done with a journal article or book.

Why cite data?

Citations create an important linkage between papers and supporting data, allowing for verification, replication, and re-use of the data in new studies or a meta-analysis. Similar to journal articles, the number of times that a dataset is cited could be tracked and used to support a researcher’s tenure and promotion, or to illustrate the impact of a research study.

Data citations should be included in your manuscript even when you are the producer of the data. Data can be cited without making the dataset available through open access.

How to Cite Data?

Unfortunately, most of the major style guides do not provide guidance on how to cite data and “data” is not an available reference type in some bibliographic management software tools (EndnoteX6 does have a reference type “dataset”).

The organization DataCite recommends citing data using one of these formats (fields defined below):

Minimal Citation Requirement:
Creator (Publication Year): Title. Publisher. Identifier
Citation Requirement with Optional Fields:
Creator (Publication Year): Title. Version. Publisher. Resource Type. Identifier.


  • Creator:  This can be an individual, group, or an organization.
  • Title: Name of the dataset or name of the study resulting in the data, not the name of the resulting journal article.
  • Version: Each iteration should have a unique number.
  • Publication Year: When the data set was published or when it was posted online; not the data creation date.
  • Publisher: Entity that makes the data available for downloading, when applicable. This might be a repository like Dryad, or an institutional repository at an academic institution.
  • Identifier: The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or other persistent identifier. This could also be a Web site that points to a description of the data and includes a notation regarding accessibility.
  • Resource Type: A one-word description such as image, dataset, software, audiovisual, etc.

For more information on data sharing and repositories, please refer to these recent HSLS Update articles: “Data Management Planning: Data Sharing,” September 2013, and Data Repositories: Meeting Your Research Needs,” February 2014.

For questions, contact the Falk Library Main Desk at 412-648-8866 or Ask a Librarian.

~Melissa Ratajeski