If you refer to a data set in academic writing, you need to cite it like you would any other source. But how does this work? And how do you list it in your reference list? In this post, we explain how to cite a data set in APA referencing.
Citing a Data Set in APA Referencing
In APA referencing, you can cite a data set using the name of the person or organization that created the data and the year it was published. For example:
The data shows that museum visits have increased year on year (Smith, 2021).
If you mention the name of the person who created the data set in the text, meanwhile, you only need to cite the year of publication in brackets:
Miringoff et al. (2016) found that 45% had visited a museum in the last year.
We use “et al.” here because the data set has more than two authors. For more advice on variations in APA citations, see our blog post here.
You will then need to provide full source details in your reference list.
Data Sets in an APA Reference List
This is the basic format for a data set citation in an APA reference list:
Last Name, Initial(s). (Year). Title of data set (Identifier; Version Number). [Data set]. Publisher. DOI or URL (if applicable)
One difference from citations is that, for sources with up to 20 authors, your reference should include all the named authors. For instance:
Miringoff, M-L., Miringoff, M., Opdycke, S., & Hoynes, W. (2016). National social survey [United States] (ICPSR 35588; Version V2). [Data set]. National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR35588.v2
Remember to include a hanging indent for each entry in an APA reference list.
Citing Published Data in APA Style
The guidelines above only apply to unpublished or archived data (either your own or from a public archive). If you are citing data that has already been published elsewhere, you can simply cite the relevant publication (e.g., the journal article or book where the data was originally published.
Expert APA Proofreading
We hope you now feel confident about how to cite a data set. If you’d like an expert in APA style to double check your referencing, though, our proofreading team can help. You can even get your first 500 words checked for free.