Data Management

Data Citation

Data citation is the practice of referencing data products used in research. A data citation includes key descriptive information about the data, such as the title, source, and responsible parties.

Cite Your Own Data, Too!

Cite Your Own Data, Too!

It is important to cite other people's data when you use them, but it is also important to cite your own data to enable readers to locate and potentially reuse your data.

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Digital Object Identifiers in Data Citations

Digital Object Identifiers in Data Citations

Assigning a digital object identifier to a dataset is important for ensuring that a data citation remains persistent.

Learn about DOIs

Why Cite Data? 

The goal of data citation is to provide scientific transparency and attribution. Data citations benefit the researcher, funding organization, data repositories, scientific community, and general public. Data citations serve many purposes:  

  • To aid scientific trustworthiness and reproducibility  

  • To provide fair credit for data creators or authors, data stewards 

  • To ensure scientific transparency and reasonable accountability for data authors and stewards;  

  • To aid in tracking the impact of a dataset and the associated repository 

  • To help data authors verify how their data are being used

  • To help future users identify how others have used the data. (ESIP Data Preservation and Stewardship Committee, 2019)  

For more information see Data Citation FAQ 1.2


Data Citation Elements 

A typical data citation generally consists of seven elements:

If relevant, other elements can be included such as query parameters, direct access link, data format, 3rd party producer, name of editor or contributor, publication place, data within a larger work. 

For more details on the elements that should be included in a data citation see Data Citation FAQ 1.3



Example Data Citations for USGS Released Data

  • van Manen, F.T., Smith, D.W., Haroldson, M.A., Stahler, D.R., Almberg, E.S., Whitman, C.L., and Cross, P.C., 2018, Canine distemper virus antibody titer results for grizzly bears and wolves in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem 1984–2014: U.S. Geological Survey data release, accessed January 2, 2020, at

  • Abdollahian, N., Jones, J.L., Ball, J.L., Wood, N.J., and Mangan, M.T., 2018, Data release for results of societal exposure to California's volcanic hazards (ver. 3.0, November 2019): U.S. Geological Survey data release, accessed February 10, 2020, at

  • U.S. Geological Survey, 2020, BioData—Aquatic bioassessment data for the Nation: U.S. Geological Survey database, accessed February 20, 2020, at


Example Data Citations for Non-USGS Data

  • Hall, D.K., and G. A. Riggs, 2016, MODIS/Terra snow cover daily L3 global 500m grid (ver. 6.0): National Snow and Ice Data Center Data Set MOD10A1, accessed February 2, 2019, at [Query parameters: Oct. 2007- Sep. 2008, 84°N, 75°W; 44°N, 10°W].

  • Ocean Networks Canada Society, 2019, Barkley Canyon upper slope fluorometer turbidity deployed 2019-05-16: Ocean Networks Canada Society dataset, accessed April 13, 2020, at [Subset Query: 8297991].

For more examples of data citations see Data Citation FAQ 1.4


Still have questions?

USGS has documented frequently asked questions about data citation, including: 

  • Differences in citing static, versioned, and dynamic data

  • Who to include in the author list and when it is appropriate for the author list to change over time

  • How to cite a data product without a recommended data citation


What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires: 

The USGS Survey Manual chapter SM 502.8 Fundamental Science Practices: Review and Approval of Scientific Data for Release requires that data approved for release must be assigned a persistent identifier, specifically a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for scientific data obtained from the USGS registration agent, and be accompanied by a recommended citation.

SM 1100.5 - Authorship, Acknowledgments, and Credits in USGS Information Products states that authorship of USGS information products provides credit and assigns responsibility for information contained in the product. The senior author is responsible for acknowledging contributions and crediting cooperators from other agencies.


Recommended Viewing



  • ESIP Data Preservation and Stewardship Committee, 2019, Data citation guidelines for earth science data, version 2: Earth Science Information Partners web page, accessed April 22, 2020, at