How to format your references using the Data in Brief citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Data in Brief. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
C.A. Sackett, Quantum physics: An atomic SQUID, Nature. 505 (2014) 166–167.
A journal article with 2 authors
M. Shibasaki, N. Masataka, The color red distorts time perception for men, but not for women, Sci. Rep. 4 (2014) 5899.
A journal article with 3 authors
R.H. Tyler, S. Maus, H. Lühr, Satellite observations of magnetic fields due to ocean tidal flow, Science. 299 (2003) 239–241.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
M. Gielen, B. Siegler Retchless, L. Mony, J.W. Johnson, P. Paoletti, Mechanism of differential control of NMDA receptor activity by NR2 subunits, Nature. 459 (2009) 703–707.

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
J.A.C. Broekaert, Analytical Atomic Spectrometry with Flames and Plasmas, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, FRG, 2005.
An edited book
C. Bonnelle, Rare-Earths and Actinides in High Energy Spectroscopy, Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, 2015.
A chapter in an edited book
G.D. Fleishman, I.N. Toptygin, Wave–Particle and Wave–Wave Interactions, in: I.N. Toptygin (Ed.), Cosmic Electrodynamics: Electrodynamics and Magnetic Hydrodynamics of Cosmic Plasmas, Springer, New York, NY, 2013: pp. 139–161.

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for Data in Brief.

Blog post
S. Luntz, The Earliest Life In The Universe Could Have Formed On Planets Made Of Diamond, IFLScience. (2016). (accessed October 30, 2018).


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office, Higher Education: Students Have Increased Borrowing and Working to Help Pay Higher Tuitions, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1998.

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
J. Mullis, The impact of the media on public opinion of the police, Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach, 2009.

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
J. Card, Breathtaking Beauty, New York Times. (2017) TR7.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in square brackets:

This sentence cites one reference [1].
This sentence cites two references [1,2].
This sentence cites four references [1–4].

About the journal

Full journal titleData in Brief
AbbreviationData Brief
ISSN (print)2352-3409

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