Data Stewardship/State Of The Art/Data Citations

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)
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Statement of data stewardship principles and recommended practices

Data Stewardship Committee

Ruth Duerr, NSIDC,
Mark Parsons, NSIDC,

Tags/Keywords: Data Stewardship, Data Citation
Stakeholders: ESIP Data Stewardship Committee, Data Centers, Data Publishers, Data Users
Technologies: DOI


Data citation is an evolving but increasingly important scientific practice. We see several important purposes of data citation:

  • To aid scientific reproducibility through direct, unambiguous reference to the precise data used in a particular study. (This is the paramount purpose and also the hardest to achieve).
  • To provide fair credit for data creators or authors, data stewards, and other critical people in the data production and curation process.
  • To ensure scientific transparency and reasonable accountability for authors and stewards.
  • To aid in tracking the impact of data set and the associated data center through reference in scientific literature.
  • To help data authors verify how their data are being used.
  • To help future data users identify how others have used the data.

Nevertheless, data are rarely cited formally in practice. There are many reasons for this discrepancy, but part of the problem is that there is a lack of consistent recommendations on how to cite and reference a data set and on how to actually construct a proper data citation.

Problem Statement

We need consistent guidelines on how to create data citations for Earth science data. Then data stewards need to work closely with data providers and science teams to define citation content and provide clear instructions to users on how data sets should be cited.

State of the Art in Addressing the Problem

A document Data Citation Guidelines for Data Providers and Archives was approved by the ESIP Assembly 5 January 2012.

Remaining Challenges


Data Citations Activity Data Citation Guidelines for Data Providers and Archives

References Cited