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Li Ka Shing Library

Research Data Management: Data Citation

Guide on research data management, with resources and tools for data planning, data organization, data documentation, data sharing, data security, data analysis and visualization

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

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

Parts of a dataset citation

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

  1. Author (creators of the dataset)

  2. Title (of the dataset)

  3. Publication date (of the dataset)

  4. Publisher (name of repository where the data is published)

  5. Version number (of the dataset, if any)

  6. 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 tup 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).

Data repositories' guides on citing data

Here are some examples of data repositories with guidelines or suggested formats on how to cite data.

Other useful resources on citing data

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy