Data Management Planning

A guide to best practices for managing research data, including links to data services available to CSU Fullerton.

Data Citation Basics

What is data citation?

For data to be used by others, there need to be standardized ways to identify, cite, and link the datasets and parts of datasets. Data citation is this method that provides references to datasets. This is similar to the citation methods for journal articles or books. 

Why is data citation important?

Data citation fosters data accessibility, discoverability, and reuse. It also promotes creator attribution, and allows tracking of use to measure the impact of a dataset. 


Identifiers are strings of characters that uniquely identify an object, in this case a dataset. A commonly used type of identifier is a digital object identifier (DOI), although may other types of identifiers exist. If you are submitting your data to a data repository, they will often choose the identifiers to be used. 

Elements of Citation

There are no universal established standards for what should be included in a data citation. However, certain data elements are recommended such as:

  • Creator (i.e. author, study PI, government agency).
  • Title with unique descriptive identifiers.
  • Year of dataset publication or release, not necessarily when created.
  • Publisher that provides access to the dataset (e.g. data center/repository).
  • DOI or applicable persistent, unique identifier .
  • Location or web address where dataset is available.
  • Version of the dataset used in the present publication.
  • Access Date for analysis in present publication. 

At a bare minimum a citation should include:  

Creator (Year) Title. Publisher. Identifier.

Data Citation Tools

Data Citation IndexThe Data Citation Index (DCI) on the Web of Science Platform provides access to research data from repositories across disciplines and around the world. This allows researchers to accurately assess a dataset's importance and maximize research efforts. 

Use DCI to: 

  • Discovery and attribute - or receive - credit for the creation of scholarly digital research data. 
  • Pinpoint primary research by understanding the impact of the scholarly research it supports. 
  • Measure the contribution of digital research in specific disciplines and identify potential collaborators. 

DataCite: Find, Access, and Reuse Data

DataCite is an organization that provides persistent identifiers (DOIs) for research data. Their goal is to help the research community locate, identify, and cite research data with confidence. 

Use DataCite to: 

  • Create DOIs and assign them to your content along with a metadata description, and one URL ofthe object. 
  • Find data by searching, filtering, and extracting details from metadata for each DOI assigned to an object. 
  • Retrieve the activity that occurs around research data objects using the DataCite Event Data Service. 
  • Extract metadata automatically from a DOI and build a full citation using the DOI Citation Formatter.