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There are 5 core elements of a dataset citation, with additional elements added as needed. All elements should be arranged according to the citation style you are using (MLA, APA, etc.).
- Creator(s) – individuals or organizations
- Publication year when the dataset was released (may be different from the Access date)
- Publisher – the data center, archive, or repository
- Identifier – a unique public identifier (e.g., an ARK or DOI)
Some additional elements may be needed if you are citing a dynamic/evolving dataset or a subset of a larger dataset:
- Version of the dataset analyzed in the citing paper
- Access date when the data was accessed for analysis in the citing paper
- Subset of the dataset analyzed (e.g., a range of dates or record numbers, a list of variables)
- Verifier that the dataset or subset accessed by a reader is identical to the one analyzed by the author (e.g., a Checksum)
- Location of the dataset on the internet, needed if the identifier is not "actionable" (convertible to a web address)
If you are creating a citation for your own data, many data repositories and publishers provide specific instructions for how to cite their data. If no citation information is provided, you can use generally agreed-upon guidelines.
Citing Data Resources
Quick Guide to Data Citation
A guide from the International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology (IASSIST) to data citation.
How to Cite Data
A guide to citing data from Michigan State University. Includes examples of citations from different citation styles.
How to Cite Datasets and Link to Publications
A comprehensive guide from the Digital Curation Centre (UK). Includes examples in various formats and with explanations.
DataCite Metadata Schema
A list of core metadata properties chosen for an accurate and consistent identification of a resource for citation and retrieval purposes, along with recommended use instructions. Helpful when data does not include citation information.