This week, I've been at meetings of the Research Data Alliance and DataCite. As part of a breakout on harmonizing "data citation" principles, I realized that people seem to be using the phrase to refer to some slightly different concepts.

I'm going to post a few possible definitions of 'data citation', and I'd appreciate people voting on which one they think the term applies to.

Please vote even if you've never seen the term 'data citation' before reading this post -- I'm interested in what people's initial reaction to seeing the phrase is as well as how it's used in established communities.

  • Feel free to add additional definitions if you think I've missed something. Or add comments to the answeres ... and voting down is just as acceptable as voting up. (for the 'that is definitely not what it means') – Joe Sep 20 '13 at 13:15
  • I ended up putting this up on Survey Monkey, as shortly after I put this here, it was pointed out that you had to have reputation to be able to vote ... oops . So, there's a parallel survey (although they can't add new definitions) at : surveymonkey.com/s/GDXVHRW – Joe Oct 1 '13 at 10:57

The specific string of text used in an article to acknowledge or cite the data.


A proxy item created to enable people to have a fixed form to be able to cite the data.

(eg, a 'data paper', 'instrument paper', or 'data landing page')


The existance of the linkage between the article (or other citing item) and the data.

(that is, it's not of a specific fixed form, and it may be recorded in more than one place)


A record of the relationship between the citing and cited item. (typically the article & the data)

(this could be the reference in the article, but could also be a record in a bibliometric database or citation index)


The whole ecosystem that captures the relationships between articles and data.


The information within the proxy item that describes the data.

(ie, the stuff from the [DataCite schema], any disciplinary specific information, information about how to access the data, etc.)

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