Partnerships with DataCite poised to expand data citations

Article dated: 29 October 2012

Four major data centres have joined the UK Data Archive in their commitment to making research data more accessible through DataCite.

DataCite, a British Library service, is a global initiative which addresses the problem of how to find, access and reuse the results of research.

The Archive is now joined by the Archaeology Data Service, the Natural Environment Research Council , the Science & Technology Facilities Council and the Chinese genomics institute BGI in signing up to the service. They are the first institutions to work with the British Library on this initiative.


Data from the participating organisations, which spans information derived from ice cores to gene sequences, cultural heritage to current populations, are being marked with Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). A DOI, which enables data to be identified and cited, is a system which has been widely used to provide persistent links to academic journal articles.

This initiative provides a practical solution to one of the most significant challenges facing researchers today – access to data. This issue was highlighted by the Royal Society in a report published in June this year, Science as an open enterprise, which recommended that scientists should communicate the data they collect in fieldwork and research more widely.

The benefits for researchers include:

  • confidence that the link to the data (or information about the data) will be persistently and uniquely identified
  • increased ease of citing data which will, in turn, increase discovery and access, enabling others to verify the results and validate their own research
  • access to a myriad of new research opportunities which have been out-of-reach until now
  • acknowledgement and credit for sharing data and having it cited

The UK Data Archive was one of the first data centres to join the initiative, assigning DOIs to every dataset in the vast collection of digital economic and social data made available through the UK Data Service.

"About 15 per cent of the data we ingest is changed within a year of publication," says Director Matthew Woollard. "This presents a challenge not only to data centres, but also to those wishing to cite an exact instance of data. Working with DataCite, we developed a solution to assign DOIs to the metadata record, then provide a 'jump page' so users can easily find all instances of the data over time. As a result, we expect this will improve not only citations, but also our visibility of how data evidence impacts research that informs our society. We have also supported the ESRC in an awareness campaign to make data citation using DOIs the rule rather than the exception across social science disciplines."