What’s the difference between attribution and citation?
- Attribution is often a legal condition of use required by copyright or licence. Some of the licenses (e.g. Creative Commons Attribution, or CC BY) include attribution requirements. The Data Center requires publishers to specify a license for each database. It’s good practice to view the data license (found in the metadata) before using data from the data repository.
- Citation is not a legal requirement but considered a good practice. Even if a data license does not require attribution, the Regional Data Center encourages the use of citations.
How do I create a proper citation or attribution for data?
Proper attribution or citation:
- credits the publisher
- uniquely identifies data and its provenance
- promotes discoverability by others
- honors any licenses associated with the data
- adheres to a specific citation format
In general, the following content should suffice when referencing data from an open data portal:
- database title
- author and/or publisher
- publication date
- provenance information (e.g. access date, and URL)
- data license
Consider the following example, formatted in APA Style:
- Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments, Department of Administrative Services . Property assessment parcel data (as of July, 14, 2015) [Data set]. Licensed under CC BY. Retrieved from the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center on August 12, 2015 http://data.wprdc.org/dataset/property-assessments.
In this example, the specific data set is cited, the publisher is named, publication year is listed, license is provided, and its provenance is clear from the date of access and a direct link to the source.
If incorporating open data into an app, it’s also good practice to provide a link to the original source data. Some people have even designed open-source icons that can be used to direct users of a digital tool to the original source of the data.
Creative Commons has provided a series of attribution examples for different types of media on their Website.