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Chicago-Style Citations: Social & Online Media, Data, Music, and Other Non-Print Materials, 17th ed.: Datasets

What is the Difference Between a Statistical Table and a Dataset?

A statistical table provides summary statistics conveniently arranged in rows and columns. It is often intended to be read and interpreted by humans.

A dataset is "a file or group of files associated with one part of a study."*

* Diane Geraci, Chuck Humphrey, and Jim Jacobs, Data Basics: An Introductory Text (2012),


Notes or bibliographic entries for Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) datasets are not discussed in CMOS 17. ICPSR advises that "each citation must include the basic elements that allow a unique dataset to be identified over time: title; author; date; version; persistent identifier (such as the Digital Object Identifier, Uniform Resource Name URN, or Handle System)." To assist in uniquely identifying the dataset, use the full date, if available, and include all ICPSR numbers, edition numbers, and version numbers.

The record for the dataset accessible through the ICPSR "Find Data" webpage includes a sample citation whose elements can be extracted to create a Chicago-style citation.

Note 17. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Census Tract-Level Data, 1960 (Ann Arbor, MI, 13 December 2007), distributed by The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, ICPSR07552-v1,
18. Stephen Thernstrom, Boston Mobility Study, 1880, 2nd ICPSR ed. (Ann Arbor, MI, 1986), produced and distributed by The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, ICPSR 7550,
U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Census Tract-Level Data, 1960. Ann Arbor, MI, 13 December 2007. Distributed by The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. ICPSR07552-v1.
Thernstrom, Stephen. Boston Mobility Study, 1880. 2nd ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI, 1986. Produced and distributed by The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. ICPSR 7550.

Source: See CMOS 17, 14.141 on the distributor.

Suggestions from Archives and Publishers

Data archives and publishers may provide suggested citations for their datasets or databases. Although they may not be in the Chicago-style, they may provide the components that will enable you to more easily create a Chicago-style citation.


Examples of how to cite self-standing datasets are not provided in CMOS 17.

According to IASSIST, the essential components of a citation to a dataset are the following:

  • "Author: Name(s) of each individual or organizational entity responsible for the creation of the dataset."*
  • "Title: Complete title of the dataset, including the edition or version number, if applicable."*
  • "Date of Publication: Year the dataset was published or disseminated."*
  • "Publisher and/or Distributor: Organizational entity that makes the dataset available by archiving, producing, publishing, and/or distributing the dataset."*
  • "Electronic Location or Identifier: Web address or unique, persistent, global identifier used to locate the dataset (such as a DOI). Append the date retrieved if the title and locator are not specific to the exact instance of the data you used."*

These elements can be combined as in the examples below, Chicago-style.

Note 19. Stephen Ansolabehere, Pamela Ban, and Michael Morse, Precinct-Level Election Data, 2014, distributed by Harvard Election Data Archive,, UNF:6:PR/uz4ma+Hs0TALYyMzr0w==.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Pamela Ban, and Michael Morse. Precinct-Level Election Data, 2014. Distributed by Harvard Election Data Archive. UNF:6:PR/uz4ma+Hs0TALYyMzr0w==.

Source: See CMOS 17, 14.141 on the distributor.


* IASSIST (International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology), Special Interest Group on Data Citation, Quick Guide to Data Citation (2012), webpage, Creative Commons License (CC BY 3.0 US),

Datasets that are Supplements to Journal Articles

According to CMOS 17, 14.187, "supplementary data or supporting information, sometimes also referred to as enhancements—can usually be cited according to how they are referred to in the journal" article. Use examples provided there as models.