Citing aquatic monitoring data sets: Best practice recommendations for authoritative data citation

By: , and 



The use of data generated from long term monitoring efforts necessitates accurate authoritative source citations of those data to ensure credit for data collected, and accountability for the data quality to enable repeated retrieval of a given data set. Data sets used in published reports and articles are increasingly being considered objects that are required to be published and cited. Aggregating data into open access databases is becoming common and is the focus of the Coordinated Assessment for Salmon and Steelhead project (CA;; and National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Salmon Population Summary (SPS; among others. Guidelines are needed for citing these long-term dynamic data sets that have many contributors. We explore best practices and provide recommendations for including robust metadata attributes within data sets to enable data publication and citation using the CA and SPS data repositories as case studies. From reviewing the current citations possible from the CA and the SPS we recommend at minimum that natural resource monitoring databases contain: metadata to identify organizations that generated the data; contact persons for each organization that contributes data to an aggregated data set; and that metadata be incorporated into databases to enable auto-generated citations that recognize all contributing organizations with time-stamped versions of the data delivered. Beyond those minimums, additional best practice recommendations include this suite of metadata elements that identify a given data set upon citation or publication: author(s); publication date; description of data; file format(s) of data - e.g. tiles, shapefile sets, images, text files; dates data were collected; locations where data were collected; producers/contributors to the data set version cited; date data set was downloaded; original data repository from which the data were obtained; version identifier to note significant change to a data set; and a persistent identifier that can be used to locate that version of the data.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Citing aquatic monitoring data sets: Best practice recommendations for authoritative data citation
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership
Contributing office(s) Northwest Regional Director's Office
Description 38 p.