Task Force on Citation of  Geoscience Data
(an initiative of the Geoscience Information Society)


To promote the adoption of citation styles that acknowledge the use of unpublished materials by geoscientists via outreach to AGI member societies, geological surveys, and editors of geoscientific publications.


Linda Musser, Pennsylvania State University (chair)
Connie Manson

Gene Major, NASA Global Change Master Directory
Marie Dvorzak, University of Wisconsin
Mary Eberle, Wordrite Editorial Services (ex-officio; member of Association of Earth Science Editors)
Eda Lesk (ex-officio)

Background Information

At its Fall 2002 meeting the Geoscience Information Society approved the formation of a Task Force on Citation of Geoscience Data to address the issue of citation of geoscience data and collections. The impetus for this effort is explained in a report by the National Research Council's Committee on the Preservation of Geoscience Data and Collections. The report indicates that lack of citation of unpublished materials such as data sets (e.g., ODP data sets, well logs and field notes, core collections, fossil and mineral specimens, and collections) has led to a situation in which these materials are not thought to be sufficiently useful to be worth  preserving. The NRC committee recommended that geoscientists begin citing these materials in the reference list as a way to show their value and that they were being used. The purpose of this GSIS task force is to act upon this recommendation by advocating for the citation of geoscience data and collections by geoscientists.

Data Citation Examples

Well Logs, Cores, Cuttings, Thin Sections

Suggested citation elements:  sample id, location, collector, date, and repository location.


Well log no.252666, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Sept. 20, 1960.

Polliand, Marc, 1998. Photo MO-02, Section OM-69  [thin section].  University of Geneva, Dept. of Mineralogy.

Kentucky Geological Survey, Well Sample and Core Library.  Core ID C-14, Hole number CA-55. 

Cuttings from 4-1 Federal well, drilled by Mitchell Energy & Development, 19??.  Core Research Center, Denver, Colorado, 2003

Specimens (rocks, fossils, etc.)

Suggested citation elements:  Collector, description of item, specimen number, date collected, and location where item can be located, if known.


University of Guam Geological Sample Collection.  Sample SRPB-2.  Collected 2 June 1995.

Bath Furnace [meteorite].  British Museum, Dept. of Mineralogy Register no. 86427.  Fell on Nov. 15, 1902.

Note: The British Geological Survey cites geological samples in the reference list along with the registered number of the sample and the place where it is held.

Data Sets

Suggested citation elements: producer/author, date, title, edition or version, date accessed, distributor, and location of repository.


Rind, D. 1994. General Circulation Model Output Data Set. IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series #1994-012.  NOAA/NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

McAndrews, J.H. 1996. Martin Pond pollen record. In: E.C. Grimm et al., editors, North American Pollen Database. IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, Data Contribution Series #1996-1234. NOAA/NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Contributors to the International Tree-Ring Data Bank, IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, NOAA/NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Defosse, G.E., and M. Bertiller. 1998. NPP Grassland: Media Luna, Argentina, 1981-1983. Data set. Available on-line [http://www.daac.ornl.gov/] from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Stern, D.I., and R.K. Kaufmann. 1998. Annual Estimates of Global Anthropogenic Methane Emissions: 1860-1994. In: Trends Online: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A.

Miller, W.E., and the National Election Studies. AMERICAN NATIONAL ELECTION STUDIES CUMULATIVE DATA FILE, 1948-1998 [Computer file]. 10th ICPSR version. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies [producer], 1999. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999.

Field Notes, Manuscripts, and Other Printed Materials

Suggested citation elements: author, date, title of material, extent (i.e., pagination), and where material can be located. 


Thomsen, E. and C. Guvad.  1987.  Organic petrology and thermal maturity of lower Palaeozoic deposits from western and central North Greenland.  GGU, 49.  (Unpublished report). 

Morton, A.C., Hallsworth, C., and Whitham, A.G. 2003. Interim Data Reports - Cretaceous & Tertiary Samples of East Greenland. CASP Reports, East Greenland Project, Norway-Greenland Provenance Study, Interim Data Reports, 33, 40 pp. (restricted availability)

Haury, Emil.  Letter from Emil Haury to J.P. Brew, 4 March 1936. In: Gila Pueblo Collection, Manuscript group 15, Arizona State Museum Archives, University of Arizona, Tucson.

Wasley, William W.  1966.  Classic Period Hohokam.  Paper presented at the 31st meeting of the Society for American Archeology, Reno.  Manuscript on file at the Arizona State Museum Library, University of Arizona, Tucson.  

Simpson, George, 1929.  Photograph of entrance to Saber Tooth Cave, Lecanto, Florida.  b&w, 4 x 5 in.  Image #GE1141, Florida Geological Survey Collection of the Florida Photographic Collection, Florida State Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Communications and other nonprint sources

Suggested citation elements:  who the communication was to/from, the date, medium (Email, etc.), and where a copy of the communication can be located, if known.  Many style manuals provide examples of how to cite communications although there is disagreement whether such resources are worth citing if no source is known. 


Alley, Richard.  1996.  Interview in the video “Changing Climate”.  Films for the Humanities, Princeton, New Jersey

Barron, Eric.  Lecture before the graduating class of 2002, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, 12 May 2002.

Recupero, L.  Forensic geology.  Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Geoscience Information Society, Seattle, Washington, November 1996.

Links to Citation Style Manuals

            Guide to Citing Primary Resource Materials  Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

            Bedford St. Martin’s Research and Documentation Online.

            Citing Electronic Data Files.  Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.

            Data Citations. World Data Center for Paleoclimatology.

References to Related Works

American Geophysical Union, 1996.  Policy on referencing data in and archiving data for AGU publications.  http://www.agu.org/pubs/data_policy.html.

Brown, Cecelia, 2003.  “The changing face of scientific discourse: Analysis of genomic and proteomic database usage and acceptance  Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology v.54 (10):926-938.
Author discusses the difficulty of tracking usage of the GenBank and related databanks because of  lack of citation and variation in citation styles.

Browne, Donald and J. David Love.  “More than books and journals: A plea for greater inclusiveness in defining ‘geoscience information’  Proceedings of the Geoscience Information Society v.28, p.71.

Day, Deborah C., 1988. “Archival documentation of the history of science  Proceedings of the Geoscience Information Society v.18, p.7-17.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, 2003.  Publikation und Zitierfähigkeit wissenschaftlicher Primärdaten.  http://www.std-doi.de/.
Website for the project of the German National Library of Science and Technology exploring use of DOIs for data.

Harper, Kris. Feb. 2003.  In: Minutes of the 6th Atmospheric Science Librarians International Conference. http://www.lib.noaa.gov/asli/asli2003minutes.html. 
(“…the loss of papers and notebooks of researchers is an obstacle to historical research…”)

International DOI Foundation, 2003.  "Project announced to develop DOIs for scientific data: German National Library of Science and Technology joins IDF"  September 15, 2003 news release.  http://doi.org/news/TIBNews.html.

Lautenschlager, Michael, 2002.  "Concept of citing scientific primary data"  http://www.std-doi.de/CitationPrimDat-DFG.pdf.
    PowerPoint presentation concerning need to cite data and use of DOIs in this context.

Lesk, Michael, 2003.  “Scientific Data Libraries  Presentation at the meeting ‘Scholarly Tribes and Tribulations: How Tradition and Technology Are Driving Disciplinary Change’ October 17, 2003, Washington, DC.  http://www.arl.org/scomm/disciplines/Lesk.html.

Maples, Christopher G., Paul Cutler and Tamara Dickinson.  “Geoscience Data and Collections Preservation: What Can the Professional Community Do Now?”  presentation at GSA 2002 meeting.  See abstract at http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2002AM/finalprogram/abstract_39442.htm.

Musser, Linda R. (in press).  “What Geoscientists Cite: a Comparative Survey"  Proceedings of the Geoscience Information Society.
            An analysis of guidelines in style manuals regarding citation of unpublished materials such as data and specimens.

Natural Science Collections Alliance. http://www.nscalliance.org/

Suarez, Andrew V. and Neil D. Tsutsui.  "The value of museum collections for research and society"  BioScience 54(1):66-74  (Jan. 2004).

Thomson/ISI Inc.  April 15, 2003.  “Arts and Humanities Index – Implicit Citations  http://wos5.newisiknowledge.com/help/helpdefs_cr.html  Accessed October 31, 2003.
“A unique feature of the Arts & Humanities Citation Index is that it includes citations to works of art (books, paintings, photographs, architectural drawings, musical scores) that are mentioned or reproduced in an article but not formally cited by the article's author(s). Implicit citations may also include references to letters, manuscripts, diaries, and other primary sources.

updated 20 Feb 2004GSIS Webmaster