Reusing and citing research data

Reusing research data

Sharing data when possible is wise. By sharing data:

  • You can reuse data produced by others in your own research.
  • You can provide your datasets for others to be utilised.

Further use of existing research data is economical and saves limited resources. It is good for researchers to utilise already existing research data in their study, because

  • It speeds up the process.
  • Existing data may work as reference material for their own data, or their own data can be merged with existing data.
  • It will save research resources, when they do not need to conjure up everything by themselves.

When using data produced by others, the terms of use for the data must be considered. Terms of use are usually defined by a license (e.g. CC license). Depending on the license, data can be used either completely freely or there may be restrictions to its use.

Research data can be searched via various search services, data repositories, archives and portals. Research data services that can be used for searching existing datasets are presented in the previous part (Sharing data – Where and how?).

Data citation

Research data must be cited as all other sources produced in research. The Copyright Act and good scientific practice require that the author’s name is mentioned in a proper manner. Data citations work just like book or scientific article citations.

Data reference should consist of following elements:

  • Creator
  • Title
  • Host organisation
  • Publication time and/or date
  • Persistent identifier

Useful additional elements are:

  • Version
  • Resource type
  • License
  • Embargo information
  • Repository

Learn what persistent identifiers for research data are and what data citation actually means (4:51).

Citations to your data can add to your academic impact. Indicate how you want your data cited when reused. Data repositories and archives usually have guidelines for data citation and they provide a citation model for each dataset. Publishers can also have their own guidelines as to how to refer to data in journals.


  • Reuse of existing research data is wise. It saves limited resources and speeds up the research process.
  • Data must be cited in a similar manner to scientific articles and books.
  • To sum up the entire course, watch Sally’s PhD journey as an open researcher (CC BY MoMoSci20 MOVING).

How does your journey as an open scientist begin?

(8/2023 KH)

You have now completed this course material!