Data Citation: How and Why Citing (Your Own) Data


FORS Guide Nº 19

How to cite

Bornatici, C. & Fedrigo, N. (2023). Data Citation: How and Why Citing (Your Own) Data. FORS Guide No. 19, Version 1.0. Lausanne: Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS. doi:10.24449/FG-2023-00019


This FORS Guide calls on all parties involved to commit to best practices regarding data citation. It first explains why researchers and students should cite the data they use, and how to cite data correctly. It also focuses on the practice of major Swiss journals and data publishers in social sciences and closely looks at their data citation recommendations and requirements.


  • Cite all sources used in your publication or assignment, both in-text and in the reference list. This concerns both primary and secondary data. Acknowledgments and data availability statements in a footnote or at the end of the text are not sufficient.
  • Cite the data directly, that is, where the data has been published and is accessible (for published data). Citing a methodological report or a data article is not enough.
  • While citing the data, make sure that all the core components are included in the citation: data authors, publication year, title, version, data publisher, and persistent identifier. These are the minimal elements to be included. Arrange the citation elements and add extra elements and information based on the requirements of the bibliographic style, journal guidelines, or data archive and repository.
  • Scientific journals should always require that all materials used in an article are correctly cited. They should add information and examples on how to cite data in their guidelines for authors. The data citation should at least include the core elements set out above.
  • Data archives and repositories should always require that the data they publish are cited and inform their users on correct citation practices. Data citation example(s) should include at least the core elements. In addition, data archives and repositories could facilitate data citation by allowing automatic export of core and additional data citation elements to reference management software. This ensures that the data citation process is identical to the citing process of other sources.


© the author 2023. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)

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