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Data Management Plans

Use this guide to develop a Data Management Plan for your research. This is required by U.S. funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

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 Tool

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.