Draft Declaration of Data Citation Principles Open For Public Comment

Scholarly citations have existed in some shape or form since the invention of the printing press [1], over half a millennium now, yet principles for citing a scholarly publication’s underlying research data have yet to be universally formalized and recognized. However, all of this is about to change thanks to the work of the Data Citation Synthesis Group, and feedback collected during public review of the Draft Declaration of Data Citation Principles.

In 1995, current IQSS Director, Gary King wrote one of the earliest papers discussing the importance of data citation for researchers to “receive recognition for collecting data and making them available to the scholarly community” [2]. By 2007, as this form of citation was beginning to increase in popularity, Altman and King were pushing for machine-readable information to be added to the citation [3]. Recently, several initiatives such as CODATA [4], FORCE11, Amsterdam Manifesto [5], and DCC had each worked on defining data citation principles to provide guidelines for publishers, researchers, funding agencies, as well as other stakeholders. However,  after the Beyond PDF 2 Force11 in 2013 representatives from various organizations recognized an important timely need to harmonize data citation principles. Out of this, the Data Citation Synthesis Group was formed to integrate a variety of current standards and practices into a set of general Data Citation principles. This group is composed of 40 individuals from 25+ organizations, who have years of experience working with and promoting the usage of data citation (e.g. abovementioned initiatives, including the Dataverse Network’s Director of Data Science, Mercè Crosas). According to the synthesis group, data citation is imperative to scholarly communication on the grounds that:

“[s]ound, reproducible scholarship rests upon a foundation of robust, accessible data.  For this to be so in practice as well as theory, data must be accorded due importance in the practice of scholarship and in the enduring scholarly record.  In other words, data should be considered legitimate, citable products of research.  Data citation, like the citation of other evidence and sources, is good research practice.” [6]

Over the past 9 months, and particularly at the 2nd RDA Plenary (Sept. 2013), the synthesis group reviewed previously existing principles, standards, and practices, such as the Amsterdam Manifesto and CODATA’s Data Citation Principles [7], and unified them into 8 guiding principles. The working group announced on November 22, 2013 the release of a Draft Declaration of Data Citation Principles [6] for public comment.  The comment period will run through the end of this calendar year (December 31). All are invited and encouraged to comment on these principles over the next few weeks.  Feedback will be incorporated into generating a published version of the declaration. This will be accompanied by a request for worldwide public endorsement of this set of principles.


[1] Loria, P. (2013). Altmetrics as indicators of public impact. Retrieved from

[2] King, G. (1995). Replication, replication. PS: Political Science & Politics, 28(3), 443-499. Retrieved from http://gking.harvard.edu/files/gking/files/replication.pdf

[3] Altman, M., & King, G. (2007). A proposed standard for the scholarly citation of quantitative data. D-Lib Magazine, 13(3/4) doi:10.1045/march2007-altman

[4] Hodson, S. (2013). Data Citation Synthesis Group: Draft Declaration of Data Citation Principles. CODATA Blog. Retrieved from http://codata.org/blog/2013/11/25/data-citation-synthesis-group-draft-declaration-of-data-citation-principles/

[5] Amsterdam Manifesto. 20 March 2013. Beyond the PDF 2 Conference. Retrieved from http://www.force11.org/AmsterdamManifesto

[6] FORCE11. 2013. Draft Declaration of Data Citation Principles.  Retrieved from http://www.force11.org/datacitation

[7] CODATA-ICSTI Task Group on Data Citation Standards and Practices also released (Released on J-STAGE 20130913) their report  https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/dsj/12/0/12_OSOM13-043/_article