Cite us! Seriously though…

By Renae Rodgers and Kari Williams

Hi there IPUMS users! Let’s talk about citations. When using our datasets in your insightful, groundbreaking, interesting work, please cite us! 

Seriously though. 

Cite us. 

You wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t rob a little old lady of her handbag, you wouldn’t base work on that of a colleague and not put their paper(s) in your reference section, right?!? Then don’t use IPUMS data and fail to mention it! 

To help you on your way, here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Q:   Do I have to though? 

A:   Yes. Properly citing IPUMS data is part of the user agreement. Before you ever submitted your first extract, you agreed to do this!

Screenshot of citation agreement

Q:   I’ve mentioned IPUMS in the caption of my figures and tables, so I am good to go, right?

A:   Nope. Putting our URL in a footnote, endnote, or caption is insufficient. Name-checking IPUMS in your “Data and Methods” section is not enough. Just for good measure, we will mention that, citing a paper by IPUMS staff about IPUMS data is not the same thing as citing a dataset.


Q:   What about talking about how much I love IPUMS on Twitter or naming my firstborn after this amazing data provider? Is that an appropriate substitute?

A:   [public radio voice] If you appreciate the resources that IPUMS provides, using the data and citing it is the best way to support us. Our ability to continue to provide this service is dependent on capable and intelligent users like you citing our datasets! Seriously, a core part of our funding depends on our ability to prove that the data infrastructure IPUMS offers is being used. If you want IPUMS to keep offering the latest data and developing new tools, we need you to cite us so we can demonstrate to our funders that IPUMS is useful. Citing us is the best way to support us (though we are keen to hear about your children with middle names based on your favorite IPUMS variables).


Q:   How do I cite IPUMS properly?

A:   We are so glad you asked! When you receive an email notification that your custom dataset from IPUMS is ready to download, it includes the citation! Each IPUMS data product has its own citation – be sure to use the citation associated with the IPUMS data that you used. If you use more than one IPUMS data product, cite all of them!

Q:   Okay, wait! I have one more. 

A:   Go for it.

Q:   What if…I deleted the extract email and didn’t make note of the citation? 

A:   Not a problem! For your convenience, we just happen to have this handy link of all the current IPUMS dataset citations with DOIs. You can also find each IPUMS dataset’s citation on the left menu of the homepage.

To those users who are diligent about citing IPUMS datasets, we thank you! If you have used IPUMS without citing it or committed one of the other faux pas above in the past, we hope you now have the instruction and incentive to do better going forward!