23 Research Data Things – Thing 7: Data citation for access & attribution

Data citation is a relatively new concept in the scholarly landscape and as yet, is not routinely done by researchers, or expected by most journals. What could be done to encourage routine citation of research data and software associated with research outputs?

In my uni work I need to reference materials in APA style. I have not yet referenced a data set. The APA Style blog has an entry on how to cite a data set. It’s given the “miscellaneous object” treatment, in that you need to specify its format, [Data Set], in a way you don’t need to for journal articles, books, or even webpages. To me this signifies that it’s still a “rare” type of citation.

In terms of building a culture of data citation, I think giving a dataset a DOI goes a long way to “legitimise” the document in the minds of readers and make people feel more inclined to cite it.

It may feel shallow, but I’m convinced that presenting data in an attractive way makes it more likely to be cited. The visualisations created with infogram are pretty sexy. Data visualisations are just easier to read and make the material more engaging. Also having a nice layout makes them look “pro”, while looking at an excel spreadsheet may (even subconsciously) give a reader a sense that the work is incomplete.


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