The Holistic Librarian – Thing 7

Hi, I’m Natasha Bayliss and I’m the Subject Librarian for Biosciences, Geography, Psychology, Sports and Health Science, Clinical sciences and Medicine.

Task 7 was to document “If a researcher asked you how to cite a data set, which resources could you point him to?”

What I knew about the topic beforehand:

I was aware that data required citations (just as any other source would) but it wasn’t always clear exactly how to do this as the standards for data citations are not universally agreed upon.

What I know now:

Generally speaking there are still debates about what should make up a complete citation. Although most citation methods include the following:

  • author,
  • title,
  • year of publication,
  • publisher (for data this is often the archive where it is housed),
  • edition or version, and
  • access information (a URL or other persistent identifier).

There are a number of reasons for this including the fact that it allows you to clearly identify the creator, the nature / type of the data and provides the means to access the information. However, the nature of the data produced can sometimes making it more complicated to cite. For example a dataset may have multiple parts or contain different types of data outputs. It worth noting that the final citation will depend on the referencing style the author is using within their publication and some referencing styles require additional fields.

How to Cite Datasets and Link to Publications is a really useful guide produced by the DCC that will help you with citing your data. If you are using data from a data archive you may find they produce citation guides that will help you as well. For example How to cite ESDS data and How to cite census data .

How did I obtain this knowledge?

The ESRC produce a helpful guide called Data Citation: what you need to know .

Ball, A. & Duke, M. (2012). ‘How to Cite Datasets and Link to Publications’. DCC How-to Guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online:

What else would I like to know about this topic:

Given the on-going debates surrounding dataset citation standards it would be interesting to see if a standardized method is developed in the future.

How did I find this task? How would I improve it?

I found the task useful and hope that it will enhance the support I provide to researchers.


Posted under Holistic Librarian, Training

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on January 4, 2013

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