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Citing data sources in the social sciences: do authors do it?

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It is expected that authors will provide citations for all papers referenced in their writings. The necessity of providing citations for data is not so widely recognized. Proponents of the data-sharing movement have advocated the citation of datasets in order to recognize contributions and enhance access. This study examines a sample of papers from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Bibliography of Data-Related Literature that are based on secondary analysis of datasets available in the ICPSR data archive to determine the data citation practices of authors. The results indicate that many authors fail to cite the data used in secondary analysis studies. Possible reasons for the dismal state of data citation practices are considered, including the recent introduction of data into the scholarly record and its marginalization as an information format. Updating citation practices to include datasets will support data sharing and foster responsible scholarship.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

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    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.

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