Data Sets Are Foundational to Research. Why Don’t We Cite Them?

A new article, "Data Sets Are Foundational to Research. Why Don’t We Cite Them?", in Mathematical Geophysics addresses the issue of dataset citation. In the summary part "Critical Fixes to Ensure Sustainable Data Citation" it states

Two factors have brought us to an important crossroads with respect to data citation. First, data sets aren’t being cited often enough and with enough specificity. Second, manual approaches for scanning, quality checking, and rigorously associating articles to data sets are becoming unsustainable. In light of the observed patterns described above, we need to act now to improve the citation of data in published literature.

We must maintain linkages between studies and the data sets upon which they are based to clarify research provenance and ensure that work is credible and reproducible. Without these linkages, many data sets will be undervalued and underused, and recognition of their contributions to science will be limited.


Acknowledging data set publication as a key research performance metric in research organizations and academic institutions will help increase awareness, use, and recognition of data sets. Such acknowledgments should, in turn, promote use of data set citations.