Data and Software Citation

Citing data and software: a key to recognising primary research outputs.

It is now considered best practice to provide a reference to data and software in the same way as researchers routinely provide a bibliographic reference to outputs such as journal articles, reports and conference papers. Citing data and software is one of the key practices leading to recognition of data and software as a primary research output.

Why data and software citation is important

The citation of data and software is essential because:

  • it facilitates reproducible and transparent research
  • it provides credit for those who spend time developing software or collecting, manipulating and analysing research data and acknowledges data and software as first class research outputs
  • citations for published data and software can be included in journal articles, reports, conference papers and CVs
  • citing data and software in related publications may increase the citation rate of the publication
  • cited data and software can be counted and tracked (in a similar manner to journal articles) to measure impact.

How to cite research data and software

Published research data and software can be cited in the same way as other scholarly outputs. Styles and formats for data citations vary in the same way article citation styles and formats vary. Below are examples of what elements a standard data citation and software citation should include:

Standard data citation

Creator (Publication Year): Title. Publisher. (resourceTypeGeneral). Identifier

Hanigan, Ivan (2012): Monthly drought data for Australia 1890-2008 using the Hutchinson Drought Index. The Australian National University Australian Data Archive. (Dataset)

Standard software citation

Creator (Publication Year): Title. Version No. Publisher. [resourceTypeGeneral]. Identifier.

Xu, C., & Christoffersen, B. (2017). The Functionally-Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator Version 1. Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States). [Software].

How the ARDC supports data and software citation

  • We offer a DOI Service to assign DOIs to datasets, software and collections.
  • We work with research funding agencies to promote data and software as primary research outputs that should be included in the research assessment process.
  • We work with Clarivate’s Data Citation Index to track and record data and software citations as part of research assessment activities.
  • We contribute to international initiatives through the Research Data Alliance, which aims to improve data and software citation and tracking.
  • We’re driving a national agenda to acknowledge research software as a valuable research output through the uptake of software citation.

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