Skip to main content

Impact Factors and Citation Analysis: Data Citation

Adapted from Impact Factors and Citation Analysis, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University; used by permission.

Citing datasets

Datasets are important outputs of scholarly research that can be shared, re-used, or re-purposed to answer new research questions. If datasets are  placed into data respositories, published, and/or assigned a unique digital object identifier (DOI), they can be cited and tracked just like journal articles and books.

In 2013, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recognized the value of datasets as outputs of scholarly research by allowing researchers to list their Products (datasets, journal articles, patents, sofware, etc.) instead of only their Publications on their Biographical Sketches. 

Making data citable

Data repositories

Placing your data in a data respository allows your data to be found by others who may be interested in re-purposing them for further research or educational purposes. Some repositories, such as Dryad for biosciences and ICPSR for social sciences, assign DOIs to their datasets. Datasets in repositories can be cited in journal articles or books. For example:

Elena SF, Lenski RE (1997) Data from: Test of synergistic interactions among deleterious mutations in bacteria. Dryad Digital Repository. doi:10.5061/dryad.rg8mb

Deschenes EP, Turner S, Petersilia J (2000) Intensive community supervision in Minnesota, 1990-1992: A dual experiment in prison diversion and enhanced supervised release. ICPSR06849-v1. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. doi:10.3886/ICPSR06849.v1

DOIs for datasets are also available via organziations such as the University of California Curation Center (EZID) or DataCite

Data publication

Some journals (such as Ecological Archives, GigaScience, and Journal of Open Archaeology Data) publish data papers, which expose and describe datasets either hosted by the journal or residing in repositories. Data papers include metadata describing the content of the datasets, their original purpose, the conditions under which they were collected, quality assurances, and guidelines for their re-use. Data papers can be cited just like traditional journal articles. 

Tracking citations to datasets

Thomson Reuters' Data Citation Index (through Web of Knowledge) provides a single, searchable access point to several data repositories. It links datasets to their companion articles and allows tracking of citations to datasets. If a journal article in Web of Knowledge has a companion dataset available, a link to the dataset will be provided in the detailed record for the article (under Associated Data Citation Index Records).

More information