Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
| University Libraries
See Updates and FAQs for the latest library services updates. Subject Librarians are available for online appointments, and Virtual Reference has extended hours.

Citing Data

This guide provides guidance on how to construct a citation for datasets or statistics.

Citing your data source is just as important as citing your other research sources.  For other scholars to be able to examine and extend your work, they must be able to find the original data.

Few citation style guides offer guidance on how to cite data.  Use the key components listed below and work them into the style you're using.  Please note, this set of recommendations should not be taken as the final word on styles.  If you have a question, check with your faculty advisor or the publication where you hope to publish.  

If you have a DOI, try this automatic citation formatter.  Paste in the DOI and it will format according to the style you select.

Key Elements of a Data Citation

Author or CreatorThe name(s) of each individual or organizational entity responsible for the creation of the dataset.

Title or Study NameThe title of the dataset, including the edition or version number, if applicable.

Publisher and/or DistributorThe organizational entity that makes the dataset available by archiving, producing, publishing, and/or distributing the dataset.  

Publication DateThe date when the data set was published or released.

Location or IdentifierWeb address or unique, persistent, global identifier used to locate the dataset, e.g. a DOI or a handle.  Append the date retrieved if the title and locator are not specific to the exact instance of the data you used.

Additional Elements

Version or Edition—The exact version or edition of the data set.

Access DateDate of access for analysis. Needed to reproduce analysis of continuously updated dynamic datasets.

Format / Material Designator—Database, CD-ROM.

Feature NameA description of the subset of the dataset used.  May be a formal title or a list of variables.

VerifierUsed to confirm that two datasets are identical.  Most commonly a UNF or MD5 checksum.

SeriesUsed if the dataset is part of series of releases (e.g. monthly, yearly).

Contributore.g. editor, compiler 


Sample dataset citations for the three major citation styles:
APA (6th edition)
Smith, T.W., Marsden, P.V., & Hout, M. (2011).  General social survey, 1972-2010 cumulative file (ICPSR31521-v1) [data file and codebook]. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center [producer].  Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor]. doi: 10.3886/ICPSR31521.v1
MLA (7th edition)
Smith, Tom W., Peter V. Marsden, and Michael Hout.  General Social Survey, 1972-2010 Cumulative File.  ICPSR31521-v1. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center [producer].  Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011. Web. 23 Jan 2012. doi:10.3886/ICPSR31521.v1
Chicago (16th edition) (author-date)
Smith, Tom W., Peter V. Marsden, and Michael Hunt. 2011. General Social Survey, 1972-2010 Cumulative File. ICPSR31521-v1. Chicago, IL: National Opinion Research Center. Distributed by Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. doi:10.3886/ICPSR31521.v1
For more details, access Chicago Manual of Style Online.

Examples of how to cite statistical tables published in a publication or on a website.
Michigan State University Libraries has put together a comprehensive guide on how to cite statistical tables and charts.  The guide is filled with examples and is very helpful.

Hey! Why not use Zotero to format my data citation? Unfortunately, Zotero does not include data, datasets, or statistics as a citation format. However, you can use it to build a citation based on the information provided above. You can also use it to grab citations from sites with a connector. The same applies if you are a Mendeley user.


Content in this guide was reused from University of North Carolina's "How to Cite Data" subject guide.

APA, MLA and Chicago examples are from:  A Quick Guide to Data Citation. International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology. Special Interest Group on Data Citation, 2012.