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Online Citation Management Resources: Citing Data

Information about tools to help Virginia Military Institute students, faculty, and staff manage their bibliographic information.

Help with citing Data.

This tab provides guidance on how to construct a citation for datasets or statistics.


Content on this tab was reused from University of North Carolina's "How to Cite Data" subject guide and George Mason University's "Citing Data" subject guide.

APA, MLA and Chicago examples are from:  A Quick Guide to Data Citation. International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology. Special Interest Group on Data Citation, 2012.

Components of a Data Citation.

Citing your data source is just as important as citing your other research sources.  For other scholars to be able to examine and extend your work, they must be able to find the original data.

Few citation style guides offer guidance on how to cite data.  Use the key components listed below and work them into the style you're using.  Please note, this set of recommendations should not be taken as the final word on styles.  If you have a question, check with your faculty advisor or the publication where you hope to publish.  

Key Elements of a Data Citation

Author or CreatorThe name(s) of each individual or organizational entity responsible for the creation of the dataset.

Title or Study NameThe title of the dataset, including the edition or version number, if applicable.

Publisher and/or DistributorThe organizational entity that makes the dataset available by archiving, producing, publishing, and/or distributing the dataset.  

Publication DateThe date when the data set was published or released.

Location or IdentifierWeb address or unique, persistent, global identifier used to locate the dataset, e.g. a DOI or a handle.  Append the date retrieved if the title and locator are not specific to the exact instance of the data you used.

Additional Elements

Version or Edition—The exact version or edition of the data set.

Access DateDate of access for analysis. Needed to reproduce analysis of continuously updated dynamic datasets.

Format / Material Designator—Database, CD-ROM.

Feature NameA description of the subset of the dataset used.  May be a formal title or a list of variables.

VerifierUsed to confirm that two datasets are identical.  Most commonly a UNF or MD5 checksum.

SeriesUsed if the dataset is part of series of releases (e.g. monthly, yearly).

Contributore.g. editor, compiler 


If you have a DOI, try this automatic data citation formatter (beta).  Will format according to style.
Examples of Dataset Citations

APA (6th edition)
Smith, T.W., Marsden, P.V., & Hout, M. (2011).  General social survey, 1972-2010 cumulative file (ICPSR31521-v1) [data file and codebook]. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center [producer].  Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor]. doi: 10.3886/ICPSR31521.v1

MLA (7th edition)
Smith, Tom W., Peter V. Marsden, and Michael Hout.  General Social Survey, 1972-2010 Cumulative File.  ICPSR31521-v1. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center [producer].  Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011. Web. 23 Jan 2012. doi:10.3886/ICPSR31521.v1

Chicago (16th edition) (author-date)
Smith, Tom W., Peter V. Marsden, and Michael Hunt. 2011. General Social Survey, 1972-2010 Cumulative File. ICPSR31521-v1. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center. Distributed by Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. doi:10.3886/ICPSR31521.v1

Examples of how to cite statistical tables published in a publication or on a website
Michigan State University Libraries has put together a comprehensive guide on how to cite statistical tables and charts.  The guide is filled with examples and is very helpful.

Citing Geospatial Data and GIS Products

Organizations Working on Data Citation Standards

DataCite is a not-for-profit organization whose aim is to establish easier access to research data on the Internet, increase acceptance of research data as legitimate, citable contributions to the scholarly record, and support data archiving that will permit results to be verified and re-purposed for future study.

"ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-based effort to provide a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers."

Data Citation Guides

Helpful Hint:  Many data sources will include recommendations on how to cite their data.  When retrieving data or statistical tables, look for instructions on "How to Cite."  Keep in mind not all sources provide citation instructions.
Citation Guidance from Frequently Used Data Sources
Amercan FactFinder answer to "How do I cite tables and maps in American FactFinder?"

ICPSR provides examples of how to cite their datasets on the data sources study page.  On the study page, go to the Study Description section for the citation.  You can copy and paste into your bibliography.  Also, ICPSR citations work with bibliographic management tools such as Zotero.

Roper Center offers instructions on how to cite their datasets.

Here are some additional data citation guides from other institutions and organizations.  All guides listed below provide examples from the sciences and social sciences.