Author : Gianmaria Silvello
Citations are the cornerstone of knowledge propagation and the primary means of assessing the quality of research, as well as directing investments in science. Science is increasingly becoming « data-intensive », where large volumes of data are collected and analyzed to discover complex patterns through simulations and experiments, and most scientific reference works have been replaced by online curated datasets.
Yet, given a dataset, there is no quantitative, consistent and established way of knowing how it has been used over time, who contributed to its curation, what results have been yielded or what value it has.
The development of a theory and practice of data citation is fundamental for considering data as first-class research objects with the same relevance and centrality of traditional scientific products. Many works in recent years have discussed data citation from different viewpoints: illustrating why data citation is needed, defining the principles and outlining recommendations for data citation systems, and providing computational methods for addressing specific issues of data citation.
The current panorama is many-faceted and an overall view that brings together diverse aspects of this topic is still missing. Therefore, this paper aims to describe the lay of the land for data citation, both from the theoretical (the why and what) and the practical (the how) angle.