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Data citations and DOIs

An example of a dataset citation.
An example of a dataset citation. ©

The BODC 'Published Data Library' (PDL) provides snapshots of specially chosen datasets that are archived using rigorous version management. This enables citation in journal papers through the assignment of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in collaboration with the British Library.

The rationale behind the PDL

There is increasing pressure from the scientific community for an intimate linkage between papers published in the scientific literature and the data upon which they are based and for a mechanism to reward data collection through citation. These requirements expose a philosophical difference between the data serving practices of many data centres and the publication model.

The publication process exposes a fixed copy of an object and then manages that copy in such a way that it may be located and referred to over an indefinite period of time. There is a fundamental assumption that the copy of the object will be exactly the same each time it is referenced.

Many data centres, including BODC up until 2011, consider data to be a dynamic entity that improves with time and that users should be served with the best currently available version of the data of interest. Past versions of data objects are not retained, particularly those resulting from relatively trivial changes such as improved wording of parameter definitions. Consequently, were a data object to be cited as published there is no guarantee that it would be the same each time it was accessed.

To address this BODC has developed a 'Published Data Library'.