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ICPSR - Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research

Finding and using data from ICPSR

Citing Data

Why cite data?

You should cite data used in a publication in just the same way that you can cite other sources of information, such as articles and books. Data citation helps by:

  • supporting researchers in identifying and locating referenced data
  • enabling easy reuse and verification of data by other researchers
  • allowing the impact of data to be tracked (e.g. by funding agencies, such as the NIH or NSF)
  • creating a scholarly structure that recognizes and rewards data producers

How to Cite Data

Citing data doesn't have to be complicated. Each citation should include the basic elements that allow a unique dataset to be identified over time: 

  • Title: Complete title of the dataset, including the edition or version number, if applicable

  • Author: Name(s) of each individual or organizational entity responsible for the creation of the dataset

  • Date: Year the dataset was published or disseminated

  • Version: Look for a version or edition number

  • Persistent identifier: This is a unique identifier, such as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). A DOI is a unique persistent identifier for a published digital object, such as an article of a study, providing a link to the article or study. This means that if you publish an article using ICPSR data and you include the DOI in the data citation, you make it easy for other researchers to get back to the original data.

     

Sometimes, a data set source will provide you with information on how to cite, as in this example from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, or will tell you where to find those elements needed for a citation. In the case of ICPSR, citations for data can be found in the following locations:

  1. Study descriptions that appear on the Web site
  2. File manifest
  3. PDF study description file

 As with any steps in the data retrieval and reuse process, take the time to locate appropriate documentation from the source. Arrange the basic elements using the order and punctuation specified by the style guide you have been asked to use. Fewer or additional elements may be requested by author guidelines or style manuals. Be sure to include as many elements as needed to precisely identify the dataset you have used. When in doubt, it is always better to provide more information rather than less.

Here is the same data set cited in various 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 Hout. 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

 


Sources: Why Cite Data? from DataCite, "Data Citations" from ICPSR, "Quick Guide to Data Citation" from International Association for Social Science
Information Services & Technology, "How and Why Should I Cite Data?" from ICPSR