F&M College Library

Data Science

Citing data and statistics

Data and statistics require citations for the same reasons journal articles and other types of publications require citations: to acknowledge the original author/producer and to help other researchers find the resource.

Some style manuals provide instructions for the citation of data. Be sure to follow the general citation format for the style manual your professor has asked you to use. It is always better to provide more information about a resource rather than less!

These are the citation elements you need to consider:

  • Author: Who is the creator of the data set?  This can be an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization.

  • Title: What name is the data set called, or what is the name of the study? 

  • Edition or Version: Is there a version or edition number associated with the data set?

  • Date: What year was the data set published?  When was the data set posted online?

  • Editor: Is there a person or team responsible for compiling or editing the data set?

  • Publisher and/or Distributor: What entity is responsible for producing and/or distributing the data set?  Also, is there a physical location associated with the publisher? 

    • In some cases, the publisher of a data set is different than how we think of the publisher of a book.  A data set can have both a producer and a distributor.

    • The producer is the organization that sponsored the author’s research and/or the organization that made the creation of the data set possible, such as codifying and digitizing the data.

    • The distributor is the organization that makes the data set available for downloading and use. 

    • You may need to distinguish the producer and the distributor in a citation by adding explanatory brackets, e.g., [producer] and [distributor].

    • Some citation styles (e.g., APA) do not require listing the publisher if an electronic retrieval location is available.  However, you may consider including the most complete citation information possible and retaining publisher information even in the case of electronic resources.

  • Material Designation: What type of file is the data set? 

    • For example, is it on CD-ROM or online?

    • This may or may not be a required field depending on the style manual.  Often this information is added in explanatory brackets, e.g. [computer file].

  • Electronic Location or Identifier: What web address is the data set available at?  Is there a persistent identifier available? 

    • If a DOI or other persistent identifier is associated with the data set it should be used in place of the URL.

Examples of Citing Data and Statistics

APA (6th edition)

Minimum requirements based on instructions and example for dataset reference:

Milberger, S. (2002). Evaluation of violence against women with physical disabilities in Michigan, 2000-2001 (ICPSR version) [data file and codebook]. doi:10.3886/ICPSR03414

With optional elements:

Milberger, S. (2002). Evaluation of violence against women with physical disabilities in Michigan, 2000-2001 (ICPSR version) [data file and codebook]. Detroit: Wayne State University [producer]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor]. doi:10.3886/ICPSR03414

Chicago (16th edition)

Author-Date style:

Milberger, Sharon. 2002. Evaluation of Violence Against Women With Physical Disabilities in Michigan, 2000-2001. ICPSR version. Detroit: Wayne State University. Distributed by Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. doi:10.3886/ICPSR03414.

ICPSR Data Archive

Duncan, Otis D., and Howard Schuman. Detroit Area Study, 1971: Social Problems and Social Change in Detroit [Computer file]. ICPSR07325-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1997. doi:10.3886/ICPSR07325

Manuscripts and dissertations based on ICPSR data should be submitted for inclusion in the ICPSR Bibliography of Data-Related Literature.

Roper Center for Public Opinion Research Data Archive

Cable News Network & USA Today. Gallup/CNN/USA Today Poll: Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina [computer file]. 1st Roper Center for Public Opinion Research version. Lincoln, NE: Gallup Organization [producer], 2006. Storrs, CT: The Roper Center, University of Connecticut [distributor], 2006.

Dataverse Network

Gary King; Langche Zeng, 2006, "Replication Data Set for 'When Can History be Our Guide? The Pitfalls of Counterfactual Inference'" hdl:1902.1/DXRXCFAWPK UNF:3:DaYlT6QSX9r0D50ye+tXpA== Murray Research Archive [distributor]

Read the Academic Credit page at Dataverse for additional information.

National Center for Education Statistics

Kroe, E. (2002). Data File (Public-Use): Public Libraries Survey, Fiscal Year 1994 (NCES 2003–304). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: 2002.

Holton, B., and George, A. (2007). Data File and Documentation, Public Use: Academic Libraries Survey (ALS): Fiscal Year 1996 (NCES 2008-318). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved [date] from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008318.

Centers for Disease Control/National Center for Health Statistics

National Center for Health Statistics. National Ambulatory Medical Survey, 1994. Public-use data file and documentation. ftp://ftp.cdc.gov/pub/Health_Statistics/NCHS/. 1996.

Read the Citations for NCHS Publications and Electronic Media page for more information.

APA Style

APA Style Guide to Electronic References
For a complete description of citation guidelines refer to p. 16 of the APA Style Guide to Electronic References (2007).

Graphic Representation of Data

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). [Interactive map showing percentage of respondents reporting "no" to, During the past month, did you participate in any physical activities?]. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Retrieved from http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/gisbrfss/default.aspx

APA 6th
For a complete description of citation guidelines, refer to p. 179 (citing specific parts of a source) and p. 205 (entry in a reference work) of the of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition (2010)

Citing Specific Parts of a Source

For in-text citations, indicate the page, chapter, figure, or table within the paranthetical citation.

Basic form:

(Author, Year, Table #)


(National Center for Education Statistics, 2008, Table 3)

Entry in a Reference Work
APA does not provide specific information on how to cite a statistical table, but use this general format to cite part of a source (e.g. a statistical table) in the bibliography.

Basic form:

Author. (Year). Title of entry. In Editor (Eds.), Title of reference book (pp. xxx-xxx). Retrieved from http:// OR Location: Publisher OR doi:xxxx.


U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2009).  Table 151: Percentage of public and private high school graduates taking selected mathematics and science courses in high school, by sex and race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1982 through 2005. In U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (Ed.), Digest of Education Statistics (2009 ed.). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/tables/dt09_151.asp.

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2010). Table 1204: Household Pet Ownership: 2006. In U.S. Census Bureau (Ed.), Statistical Abstract of the United States (129th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1204.pdf

MLA Style

MLA 7th
For a complete description of citation guidelines refere to the MLA Handbook for Writer's of Research Papers, 7th edition (2009)

A work in a Reference
MLA does not provide specific information on how to cite a statistical table, but use this general format adapted from the rules for citing a work in an anthology (p. 157), an article in a reference work (p. 160), and guidelines for citing electronic materials (p. 181).

Basic form:

Author. "Title of entry." Title of book. Edition. Ed. Editor's name(s). Place of publication: Publisher, Year. Page range. Medium of publication.

For web publications, add date of access.  URL is optional (MLA 7th no longer requires the use of URLs as an acknowledgement that they change often).


American Veterinary Medical Association. "Table 1204: Household Pet Ownership: 2006." Statistical Abstract of the United States. 129th ed. Ed. U.S. Census Bureau. Washington D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010. Web. 14 July 2010. <http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1204.pdf>.

American FactFinder

American FactFinder is the online table generator for U.S. Census data.

The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources

This is a manual designed to help researchers cite all kinds of government documents.  It is a general style that provides information for specific elements that should be included in a citation, you may then need to modify these examples to fit with the style guide specified by your professor.  Some general examples are provided here, refer to the book for examples from specific government statistical programs such as the Census, Economic Census, and other specific surveys.

Refer to the Quick Citation Guide to Periodical Articles and Statistical Sources (pp. 43-52 and pp.173-181 for electronic formats).

Data Table in an Online Statistical Volume

Basic Form:

"Title of Table." In Title of Statistical Volume. Available at: http://some.url.gov; Accessed: mo/da/yr.


"Table 385: Unemployment Rate of Persons 16 Years Old and Over, by Age, Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Highest Degree Attained: 1996, 1997, and 1998" (PDF file; 13 kb). In Digest of Education Statistics, 1999. Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2000/-Digest99/tables/PDF/Table385.pdf; Accessed: 11/25/01.

American FactFinder Table


"Commuting to Work (1990 QT)—State College, PA" Part of: Quick Table: DP-3—Labor Force Status and Employment Characteristics: 1990. Data Set: Census of Population and Housing, 1990 (STF 3). Available at American FactFinder (Census Bureau), http://factfinder.census.gov; Accessed: 1/28/01.

"PCT5. Sex by Age:2000—Race or Ethnic Group: Black or African American—Rhode Island." Data Set: Census, 2000 (SF2). Available at American FactFinder (Census Bureau), http://factfinder.census.gov; Accessed: 1/28/01.

Learn More!

Digital Curation Center logo

From the Digital Curation Centre, this guide provides detailed information on data citation for authors and repositories.

Most common citation styles

    Chicago Manual of Style book cover


Adapted from the How to Cite Data LibGuide by Hailey Mooney and Scout Calvert (Michigan State University Libraries) and Citing Data and Statistics by University of Michigan Libraries, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.