I'm doing research in macroeconomics, using time series from a national statistics department, nevertheless I'm not sure how should I properly reference my data sources, I have seen that in most papers (peer-reviewed) authors just say in a sentence "with data from X department we calculated..." not even including the institution in the references.

What that tells me is that it's not necessary to do such thing, but I want to be as transparent as possible with the data I'm using. I could just create a new reference cite in my paper in which the author is the department of statistics, and include the exact link where I downloaded the files containing the data, however such link are not permanent and it's very likely that in coming years they'll be deprecated, in which case it becomes useless to include for future readers.

How should I proceed taking into account those facts and that I'd like to be very clear in which are the sources of my data?


  • If you wanted similar data from 100 years ago. Where would you look? Suppose someone 20 years from now wanted this data. How would they find it? Jun 17, 2021 at 22:36
  • Provided the licence under which you got the data allows it: You could include the dataset into the supplementary information of your paper. This does not answer the referencing part of your question, though. Jun 19, 2021 at 7:41
  • Note that in the US, at least, some government-provided data is explicitly in the public domain, making informal citation more reasonable. That may explain what you are seeing.
    – Buffy
    Apr 21, 2022 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


Depending on the citation format you're using, there are usually specific formatting guidelines for datasets. For example, here is the APA format for data set references. This can involve citing a publication describing the dataset or the dataset source itself. While you may not be using specifically APA, perhaps you can adapt their guidelines to whatever citation format you are using even if you can't find specific guidelines for datasets in their citation guidelines.

For the issue of citing an ephemeral link, this is an issue with citing any webpage, but sometimes there is no alternative. You may be able to republish the whole dataset as a supplement to your publication, though this may not be possible with copyright concerns. Regardless, you can definitely keep the complete dataset yourself and say in a data availability statement that this dataset would be available from you upon request.

As you and the comments have pointed out, the important thing is to provide as much information as you possibly can and use a formal in text and bibliographic citation so that others can locate the dataset as easily as possible if they need to. And also as you hint at in your question, just because other sources may not have formally cited the same dataset does not mean you have to follow their convention. I hope this helps!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .