Data Citation


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How to cite this document:
Laine, H (ed.) 2018 Tracing Data - Data Citation Roadmap for Finland. Helsinki, Finland: Finnish Committee for Research Data. URN:


The roadmap consists of an evaluation of the current situation, description of the target state and recommendations on measures that would lead from the current situation to the target state. It also presents an information model for data references. 

The roadmap has been produced by the Finnish Committee for Research Data (FCRD) in dialogue with other members of the Finnish research community. The Ministry of Education and Culture Open Science and Research Initiative has instigated and funded the work. 

Data citation is considered to be one of the core processes of an open scholarly research system. Thus far, data citation practices are poorly implemented worldwide, but once established, they are expected to facilitate the crediting of data work, providing attribution detail, facilitating access, fostering collaboration, and ensuring transparency and reproducibility of science and scholarship. Finland has an opportunity to set an example to other national research systems, thus solidifying our position as a global leader in open science. 

To ensure international interoperability the Tracing Data Project has used the FORCE11 Data Citation Synthesis Group: Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles (2014) as a key reference as well as a conceptual framework. The full declaration can be found at

The FORCE11 declaration is divided into eight principles, which are: 
1. Importance 
2. Credit and Attribution 
3. Evidence 
4. Unique Identification 
5. Access 
6. Persistence 
7. Specificity and Verifiability, and 
8. Interoperability and Flexibility. 

Recommended measures are presented in the roadmap both by principle and by stakeholder group. Data citation stakeholders are: 

* Researchers 
* Decision makers 
* Institutions 
* Data repositories 
* Publishers, and 
* General public. 

Data repositories are institutions that store and curate data. They create the infrastructural foundation for the data citation process. According to the roadmap, repositories are responsible for assigning persistent identifiers (PID’s) for data and creating and maintaining data landing pages. Identifiers both identify a data set and provide access to it. When typed to an internet browser address bar, they lead to a data landing page. Research data is accessed only through landing pages, never directly. Data landing page should hold information on the data set, such as metadata and suggested model for referencing the data set in question. 

Academic publishers have the role of making sure that publishing authors give due credit to data creators whose work they are utilizing and use the data reference information model. The most important element of the information model is the persistent identifier, as it allows the access to the data source. Data references need to be both machine and human readable, so PID doesn’t suffice alone as a data reference.  

Data can be referenced in many contexts; journal articles are only one possible instance. The data reference information model applies also to data references made in blogs, social media, and other data sets. Also, software code, which is increasing its importance as a research output, can be referenced using the information model presented in this roadmap, as long as the code is either published or described openly and given a PID. 

Research institutions need to educate both students and researchers about data citation. Institutional data policies are an important instrument for responsible data management. Merely publishing policies is insufficient; they need to be enforceable and enforced. Researchers have the responsibility of following the policies and engaging in dialogue with other stakeholders to make sure that the policies are practical. 

Decision makers, funders and policy makers need to recognize data as a research output, give consistent support to data infrastructure maintenance and development and participate in developing and implementing transparent and responsible informetrics.  

The general public is not assigned any action in this roadmap but is recognised as the ultimate end-user of all research outputs, as well as a source of legitimization for public spending on scientific and scholarly research. Academia cannot thrive without broad societal support. 

Data reference should consist of following elements:  

Creator, title, host organisation, publication time and/or date, persistent identifier. 

Useful additional elements are:   

Version, resource type, license status, ORCID, embargo information.  


Data citation recommendation overview


Tracing data is a project commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Culture Open Science and Research Initiative and executed by the Finnish Committee for Research Data (FCRD).

The project was tasked with ‘[..] producing recommendations concerning data citation practices in Finnish research system, by way of consulting national research community, for example learned societies and national committees of science, and taking into consideration international discussions and developments in the area of data citation (especially in the realms of ICSU and CODATA).’ (excerpt from the contract between CSC - IT Center for Science, that coordinates the Open Science and Research initiative, and the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, that houses the Council of Finnish Academies, which is the umbrella organisation for national committees of international scientific unions of ICSU).

The hands-on primary aim of the project has been defining the core elements of a data reference. Broader and more far reaching recommendations have been made with the data reference information model in mind. FORCE11 principles for data citation were recognised as an essential point of reference early on in the project. It was decided that they would be used as a framework for the national level implementation of data citation. This decision was based both on the quality and scope of the definitions, and the level of engagement of the international research data community behind them, as it is necessary to make the Finnish solutions interoperable with the global landscape.

Other important resources for the work have been for example the report and data from the Open Science and Research initiative open science maturity assessment for national research institutions, data policies of national research institutions, materials from the CODATA Data Citation Workshop series and outputs from several Research Data Alliance groups, especially the working group on dynamic data citation.

The project is coordinated by FCRD secretary Heidi Laine. Project management board consists of the following experts:

Management Board Chair, Project Director and Coordinator Ari Asmi, University of Helsinki
Head of Research Strategic Support Ella Bingham, Aalto University
Senior Adviser Juha Hakala, National Library of Finland
Director Helena Laaksonen, Finnish Social Science Data Archive
Director Petri Myllymäki, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology
Information Specialist Susanna Nykyri, Helsinki University Library

In addition, FCRD chair professor Pekka Orponen participated in the management group meetings and supervised the work as an FCRD liaison.

Creative Commons License
This work by Heidi Laine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
PDF-tiedostoTracing Data URN_NBN_fi-fe201804106446.pdf (2.1 MB)
Download the final roadmap as PDF file.
PDF-tiedostoDraft for Data Citation Roadmap for Finland.pdf (988 kB)
Download the roadmap as PDF file.
MS Word -tiedostoDraft for Data Citation Roadmap for Finland.docx (958 kB)
Download the roadmap as docx file.
PDF-tiedostoPoster Data Citation Roadmap for Finland.pdf (1.8 MB)
Download the poster summarizing recommendations made in roadmap as PDF file.
Creative Commons License
This work by Heidi Laine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons License
This work by Heidi Laine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.