Why Cite Spatial Data?

Like any resource that you use in your research, you need to cite the sources of spatial data too. Creating, maintaining, and making spatial data available for others is a resource intensive activity – as I am sure you have realised if you’ve ever been into the field to collect data for yourself!

The good news is, it’s pretty easy to get these citations right.

Often, the citation text required by the data owner is included in the Spatial Data Licence or Metadata that covers the dataset you used.

If no specific citation guidelines have been provided, we suggest the following format:

dataset name (c) data owner, date of dataset creation/release

For example:

Vegetation Data (c) The Vegetation Mapping Department, 2011

It can be a little less obvious when working with web map services though. Many of the service providers will give you guidelines and all of them have Terms of Service or Use, that you have already agreed to if you have accessed the site. It can be tricky to find these details, but it does get easier with practice. Like all things in the Interwebz, agreements get updated and changed so you can’t assume the terms are the same as the ones you read last year, or even yesterday in some cases. Bearing that in mind, here are some links for some of the more often used web map services in SAL:

It is always important to remember that if you are ever unsure about

  • how you should cite a spatial data set that you have used in your research; or
  • whether a particular spatial data set or service can be used under the provided terms or conditions,

speak to one of the SAL Tech Staff and we can help you work it out 🙂

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