ESIP Introduces New Data and Software Citation Guidelines Aimed at Making Earth Science Research FAIR

Modern citation guidelines address persistent data access, aid in scientific reproducibility and ensure scientific transparency


SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 09, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- AGU Fall Meeting Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), the global community steward for Earth science data professionals, today announced updated Data Citation Guidelines and new Software and Services Citation Guidelines for the Earth science community. These Guidelines are tailored to Earth science and related data. The guidelines were developed by the ESIP Data Stewardship Committee and built from accepted guidance by recognized data professionals and research communities with consultation from international standards organizations. Appropriately citing data, software and services within research is one of the most important elements for making scientific research FAIR and open for informatics experts, researchers, publishers and authors.

“Sharing research data is critical to the scientific research process,” said Matt Mayernik of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Library, former Chair of the ESIP Data Stewardship Committee. “But without persistent links to data, version IDs, access times and machine-readable citations - data can quickly become unusable. The new guidelines address these important aspects of data and software citation, while simultaneously considering the unique attributes of Earth science data.”

The ESIP Data Citation Guidelines have been updated to include recommendations that address the complexity modern data and ensuring precise access to it over time. Key elements include:

  • Resolvable Persistent Identifiers, rather than URLs, to provide the ability to successfully access the data over decades.
  • Machine Readable Citations that allow machines to access and interpret the resource.
  • Micro-citations that refer to the specific data used in large datasets.
  • Data and Time Access citations for dynamic data.

The software and software services that underpin research are rarely cited in the same way as journal articles or other scholarly resources, but these citations are an increasingly important scientific practice and aid scientific reproducibility through direct, unambiguous reference to the precise software or service used in a particular study. Just as data citation enables recognition of more individuals who had a hand in producing or analyzing the data than just the authors of publications about the data, software citation also acknowledges the important scholarly effort of those involved in software development.

“We consider Earth and space science data to be a world heritage,” said Brooks Hanson, Executive VP of Science at American Geophysical Union. “The importance of gathering, sharing and preserving Earth and space science data cannot be overstated - it plays a fundamental role in understanding our planet and the surrounding systems, as well as our ability to fuel discoveries and solutions as we head into the next centennial of AGU.”

Many publishers now require research papers to include data and software citations, which not only provide credit to data producers, data stewards and software developers, but also ensure scientific reproducibility, transparency, accountability, aid in tracking the impact of the data and verify how the data or software is being used.

“Precise data and software citation is an increasingly important scientific practice and many publishers now require that data used for a publication be formally cited,” said Liz Ferguson, Vice President of Open Research at Wiley. “We applaud ESIP for modernizing the Earth Science Data Citation Guidelines and creating software citation guidelines. Scholars can now be formally recognized for their contributions to software development and organizations will be able to acknowledge that effort. We see this as an important step forward and fits squarely into our commitment to advance Open Research.”

ESIP, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and EarthCube bring these concepts to life at the 2019 Data FAIR at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting at the San Francisco Moscone Center December 9-13, 2019. The Data FAIR, now it its fifth year, provides researchers with opportunities to engage with informatics experts familiar with their scientific domain and learn about skills and techniques that will help further their research and make their data and software open and FAIR. New this year, the Data FAIR will also connect journal editors and authors with resources for complying with FAIR requirements of publishers including the ESIP Citation Guidelines.

The Data FAIR activities will include Town Halls, Workshops, Demos, and a Data Help Desk staffed with experts from the Earth and space science informatics community. Unless otherwise noted, all events will take place at Exhibit Hall Booth #1329.

  • One particular highlight will be the Data and Software Citation – Latest Developments Workshop on December 12 at 10:00am in Exhibit Hall Booth #1329, where attendees can learn how to cite their data. 
  • The Data Help Desk, Exhibit Hall Booth #1329, will allow attendees to engage with informatics experts on topics such as data publication, finding an appropriate data repository, creating a data management plan, coding and more. Experts from more than 25 organizations will participate, including NASA, MathWorks, Esri, Arctic Data Center, DataONE, Environmental Data Initiative, NEON, San Diego Supercomputer Center and Taylor & Francis.

“These guidelines and programs like the Data FAIR aim to fill the gap between the goal of making data FAIR and scientists ability to execute on it,” said Robinson. “The ESIP community will continue to push citation forward and is currently exploring other types of research objects in addition to data and software that can further extend the value of research if cited properly.”

About ESIP
Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) is a community steward for global Earth science data professionals and provides a collaborative platform for advancing the usefulness and impact of data necessary to address pressing global environmental challenges and fuel new discoveries. For the past 20 years, ESIP has driven its mission to support the networking and data dissemination needs of members and the global Earth science data community by linking the functional sectors of observation, research, application, education and use of Earth science. By encouraging open and FAIR data platforms for the global ecosystem of Earth science data stewards to share resources, ESIP facilitates collaboration and builds connections across federal agencies, academia and the private sector. To learn about ESIP, visit and follow @ESIPfed.

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Barbara Reichert, Reichert Communications or 415-225-2991