Users of our data must acknowledge and cite data sources correctly in all publications and outputs.

Data are a vital part of the scientific research process and proper citation should be a significant feature of research publications.

Data citation:

  • acknowledges the author's sources
  • makes identifying data easier
  • promotes the reproduction of research results
  • makes it easier to find data
  • allows the impact of data to be tracked
  • provides a structure which recognises and can reward data creators

Any publication, whether printed, electronic or broadcast, based wholly or in part on the data collections provided by the UK Data Service must be accompanied by the correct citation and acknowledgement information. In addition, ESRC award holders are expected to cite their data to encourage and facilitate data sharing under the terms of the ESRC Research Data Policy.

Any acknowledgement, which is a general statement giving credit to sponsors or distributors, should not be a replacement for a proper citation.


Citations are prominent as part of the relevant catalogue record within the Data Catalogue and it is easy to cut and paste the citation text from there. The citation is provided in multiple formats such as APA, DataCite, Dataverse and Harvard and is exportable in CSL XML or EndNotes. Details of the citation and acknowledgement are also set out in the 'Study information and citation' file, available for every data collection from its online documentation table.

A citation should include enough information so that the exact version of the data being cited can be located, but does not include information on the sponsor or copyright. Including a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in the citation ensures that even if the location of the data changes, the DOI will always link to the data that were used.


Each data collection used must have a separate citation. A data collection is a set of data files, accompanying documentation and the metadata that describes them. A data collection is also known as a study.

Examples of the recommended format for citations of data collections:

  • University of Essex. Institute for Social and Economic Research, NatCen Social Research. (2014). Understanding Society: Waves 1-4, 2009-2013. [data collection]. 6th Edition. UK Data Service. SN: 6614, http://dx.doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-6614-6

and for international macrodata

Information on how to cite census data is available from Census Support: Citing census data.


Data collections that form a discrete entity may be grouped into a 'generic'. One or more of these groups may form a series. If several data collections from a particular group are used, they should have a joint citation.

The format for the joint citation uses the publication data of the latest study that was used and the title of the study reflects the first and last years of the data used. In the following example the studies were used between 1992 and 2015, and the latest collection was published in 2015.

As there is no DOI, then a 'retrieved from' should indicate the page on the UK Data Service website.

Example of the recommended format for joint citation:

  • Office for National Statistics. Social Survey Division, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Central Survey Unit. (2015). Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 1992-2015. [data collection]. UK Data Service. Retrieved from http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/series/?sn=2000026