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I am working on a paper that includes numerous graphs that were generated by an analytics system. These graphs are uniquely generated based on specific criteria I provided, but I did not collect the underlying data.

How do I cite the source of these graphs? There is no person (besides me) that is clearly responsible for these specific graphs--but I also need to explain the source of the data, and the tool used to generate the graphs, to provide credibility (and testability, for anyone that wants to investigate my claims). Given the criteria I use, they could replicate my research.

I'm sure this is a common situation and there's an accepted convention for this. I'm using Chicago style citations.

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  • The specific data in question is related to real estate sales, but my question could just as easily apply to census data, or any other sufficiently large data set that a researcher would use an analytics tool to query for specific subsets of data.
    – Josh
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 21:58

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I also need to explain the source of the data, and the tool used to generate the graphs, to provide credibility (and testability, for anyone that wants to investigate my claims). Given the criteria I use, they could replicate my research.

You do all these things in the methods section of your paper. This is not "citation" per se, it's part of your methodology. There may be a relevant work or manual or provider of the data to also cite. Sometimes providers of data are explicit about this, e.g. "please cite such and such as the source for these data", other times you can use other publications to follow their format, or just ask the person/organization responsible for the data what they prefer.

For commercially available resources, you often just list the source material the way you would a piece of equipment or reagent: specify the item with enough detail that someone else could purchase it (a product ID or name, perhaps), name the company and location (city and country; state or province as well if appropriate), and include any other important IDs like a lot number or date. This doesn't go as a reference but directly in the text like sodium chloride (reagent grade, Sigma Aldrich, St Louis, MO, USA) or Microsoft Word (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA, USA).

For the specifically generated images, you also need to make sure you have been licensed to use them in the way you plan to use them, and have freedom to grant a publisher certain rights to them as well. All that depends on the terms of the software you're using.

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