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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

Data Citation

It is important to cite data correctly in the same way that you cite journal articles or books. Data is increasingly recognized as an important type of research output that should count towards a researcher's impact. 

Citing data is important because: 

  • it gives credit to the data owner and helps to avoid plagiarism 
  • it helps to support your research and make your results reproducible
  • proper data citation can be counted and tracked to measure impact


Elements of a data citation
A data citation often includes the following elements:
  • Author: creator or owner of the dataset
  • Title: a descriptive title of the dataset
  • Date: date of publication of the dataset
  • Publisher: for data this is often the archive or repository that houses the dataset
  • Version: if applicable, when there are multiple published versions of the same dataset
  • Location: a permanent URL or DOI (preferred) to locate and access the dataset

Note: DOI can function as a web URL too -[replace this part with any DOI]  


The styles of your data citation depends on the requirement from the publisher. The elements of a data citation mentioned earlier may be arranged and formatted in slightly different manners, but the fundamental principle is to provide sufficient information for others to locate the cited dataset. ‚Äč

Example of an APA data citation:
Author. (Year). Title of data set (Version) [Description of form]. Location. 

Banda, J. M., Tekumalla, R., Wang, G., Yu, J., Liu, T., Ding, Y., Artemova, K., Tutubalina, E., & Chowell, G. (2021). A large-scale COVID-19 Twitter chatter dataset for open scientific research - an international collaboration (Version 75) [Data set]. Zenodo.

Milberger, S. (2002). Evaluation of violence against women with physical disabilities in Michigan, 2000-2001 (ICPSR version) [data file and codebook].


Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a persistent unique identifier widely used in academic publishing for journal articles and datasets. Similar to how passport number can be used to identify a person, a DOI is used to uniquely identify a dataset. URL links may become outdated and broken, but DOI is designed to be more reliable and long-lasting. It is highly recommended to obtain a DOI for your dataset, and to use this DOI in data citation to facilitate tracking of citation counts and impact. 

Guidelines from Data Repositories and Organizations

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