I'm currently writing my paper, and I have to compare some DNA sequences. But I found some samples have already been analyzed.

So I used analyzed data from NCBI and my own new data (different species) for the comparison.

Now I want to state clearly that I used their data in my paper. What is the best way to do it?

Should I write their GeneBank accession No. and put the papers in my references?

I'm worried if that is not enough. Should I contact the authors of the paper?

  • On a fairly abstract level, you might find the FORCE11 Data Citation Principles of interest: force11.org/group/…
    – Jez
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 21:26
  • How many samples are we talking about? Normally, NCBI data are mentioned only for their accession number if you use them per se. But if you want to refer to their analysis also, then you would need to cite the papers as swell. If you have taken 1000 sequences, you cannot cite 1000 papers, but you do have to provide the genbank number.
    – BioGeo
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 16:34

2 Answers 2


The way to cite NCBI databases, services, and data is described by NCBI itself in an "NCBI Knowledgebase" post here: https://support.nlm.nih.gov/knowledgebase/article/KA-03391/en-us

In addition, NCBI provides a separate file with lots of examples: ftp://ftp.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pub/education/supportcenter/NCBI_services_citation_examples.txt

Don't guess, look it up !

(Archived permalink: https://web.archive.org/web/20181028213653/https://support.nlm.nih.gov/knowledgebase/article/KA-03391/en-us)


You ought to do the following

  1. Cite the GeneBank with the appropriate accession number.

In addition to citing their main paper,

Benson, D. A., Cavanaugh, M., Clark, K., Karsch-Mizrachi, I., Lipman, D. J., Ostell, J., & Sayers, E. W. (2013). GenBank. Nucleic acids research, 41(D1), D36-D42.

Cite the data source. I suppose the following details would suffice:

Title: "GenBank: Accession No. X"

Publisher: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Online: URL

  1. Cite the source where the data was previously analysed. This includes the paper which publishes the data and the original location where you have found it.

  2. Clearly specify which set of data was used in your study that was already analysed in the main text in addition to that you've analysed.

  • The OP does not ask how to cite Genebank
    – BioGeo
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 16:39
  • @BioGeo I've added the details for clarification
    – Ébe Isaac
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 5:21

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