Out of Cite, Out of Mind : The Current State of Practice, Policy, and Technology for the Citation of Data

Data Science Journal, Volume 12, 13 September 2013

Publié le 16 septembre 2013, par Thérèse Hameau

The U.S. CODATA and the Board on Research Data and Information (BRDI) is pleased to announce the publication of a new report : Out of Cite, Out of Mind : The Current State of Practice, Policy, and Technology for the Citation of Data. The report was authored by the CODATA-ICSTI Task Group on Data Citation Standards and Practices and edited by Yvonne M. Socha. The project was directed by the staff of the US CODATA/BRDI.

Executive Summary

Traditionally, scientific findings have been shared by means of publication and citation, in which papers are published, read, and critiqued, with the links be tween papers established through a formal process of bibliographic referencing and citation. So well established is this practice that most journal Instructions to Authors provide the
details of what information should be provided and how the references should be structured. A data citation is a reference to data for the purpose of credit attribution and facilitation of access to the data. As data sets have become larger and more complex, however, it is often no longer possible to publish them as part of a paper ; the ability of scientific assertions in the paper to withstand scrutiny demands that the link between the data and the publication be maintained.

The relatively new practice of making bibliographic references to data sets with formal citations begins to address long-standing problems limiting our collective ability to locate data and to reuse them effectively in advancing science. References made and citations received support a research infrastructure to provide the necessary recognition and reward of data work, in addition toproviding attribution detail, facilitating future access, and fostering cross-collaboration and investigation. They are the links between the data and the published research resultneeded to maintain the integrity of the scientific method.


Based on a review of emerging practices and analysis of existing literature on citation practices, we have identified the following set of “first principles” for data citation :

  1. Status of Data : Data citations should be accorded the same importance in the scholarly record as the citation ofother objects.
  2. Attribution:Citations should facilitate giving scholarly credit and legal attribution to all parties responsible for those data.
  3. Persistence : Citations should be as durable as the cited objects.