Citing research data

Learn more about citing research data and managing your references.

Citing data

Data citation is how you reference a data source that you have used. The citation is similar to how you reference bibliographic information, such as a journal article or book, and usually includes the:

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

Citation examples

Below are two examples for citing data.

Example 1: Creator (publication year), title, publisher, identifier

Cowley, R., Rintoul, S., Rosenberg, M., Chase, Z., Reseghetti, F., Wijffels, S. (2014) XBT and CTD pairs dataset Version 2. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). DOI: 10.4225/08/543F60A3F1690

Example 2: Creator (publication year), title, version, publisher, identifier

Colley, Sarah (2010) Archaeological Fish Bone Images Archive Tables. 1st edition. Sydney. Sydney eScholarship., Sydney eScholarship Repository.

Many data providers and distributors, as well as some style manuals, provide guidelines on how to cite data. You may also be able to use EndNote to help cite your data.


EndNote is bibliographic management software. It can be used to reference your work and create bibliographies.

Versions X5 and above of Endnote have a template for the reference type ‘dataset’. This is where citation information for any data or datasets that you use in your research can be captured by Endnote.

For more information on how to use Endnote, see our Endnote LibraryGuide.

VU has a site license for EndNote that covers use on campus and at home for all VU staff and students.

The VU EndNote licence includes access to EndNote Web, which you can use to store, access and share your references online. EndNote X7 gives you the ability to automatically synchronise your EndNote and EndNote Web so you only ever have to use one library.

Persistent identifiers

An identifier (see the Citing data section on this page) is very useful way for people to cite a dataset. Identifiers are also a key metadata item (see the information on metadata on Promoting & sharing your research data).

A good identifier should be unique and persistent (i.e. not change over time). Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are becoming a standard identifier to use for datasets. DOIs have been traditionally used for journal articles, but can now be used for datasets. More information about DOIs is available in the ANDS guide to the Digital Object Identifier System and DOI Names (ANDS 2016).

If you are sharing your data and would like other people to cite your data, then getting a DOI for your dataset is useful. Contact the Library if you are interested.

Contact us
For assistance with citing research data contact the Research Librarian, Digital Repositories Coordinator or your College Librarian.