Citation guidelines

These guidelines provide the most common examples of citation by GBIF users.

Cichorium intybus
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) by Donald Hobern. Photo licensed under CC BY 4.0.

The practice of citation serves two primary purposes: to acknowledge the original source of information and to help other researchers find that source. As an open data research infrastructure, GBIF encourages good citation practices to ensure proper credit and attribution as well as transparency and reproducibility.

Below you’ll find guidelines for the most common cases of citation by GBIF users. While these are presented in Harvard style, please feel free to adapt citations to the style format required by your institution, publisher or agency. However, please do include each element of content from the relevant example, especially the DOI link, URL and date.

Citation examples

Occurrence data download through

When a registered user downloads data from, s/he is redirected to a page that includes the following information:

When using this dataset please use the following citation: (29th February 2016) GBIF Occurrence Download

This citation also appears in a confirmation sent to the email account that the user registered with.

By using the assigned DOIs included with your citations, you vastly improve GBIF’s ability to track the use of data, which we can then report to data publisher. It also provides the mechanism for connecting published uses of the data back to its sources. In addition to acknowledging them, the practice of using DOI citations rewards publishers by reinforcing the value of sharing open data to the publisher’s stakeholders and funders.

Individual checklist, occurrence or sampling event dataset

Each dataset page contains a paragraph that provides a default citation, for example:

Rivas Pava M D P, Muñoz Lara D G, Ruiz Camayo M A, Fernández Trujillo L F, Muñoz Castro F A, Pérez Muñoz N (2017). Colección Mastozoológica del Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad del Cauca. Universidad del Cauca. Occurrence Dataset accessed via on 2017-09-13.

Custom data export

On occasion, the GBIF Secretariat provides direct assistance to users seeking somewhat more complicated exports of data shared through the GBIF network. To improve transparency, repeatability and open access to data, we recently started issuing DOIs for these results; please cite them, for example:

Custom data export (1st March 2016). Available from [3rd November 2016]

If you need assistance with a custom data export, please contact us at

GBIF data downloaded using the rgbif package

The rgbif package offers a function, gbif_citation, that helps you generate proper citations. This is described in more detail on the rgbif tool page.

Species page

Each species page includes a default citation, for example:

GBIF Secretariat: GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Accessed via on 3rd November 2016

Those wishing to cite GBIF’s website in general can (year), GBIF Home Page. Available from: [3rd November 2016].

Authored content at (web page)

Similarly, users can cite non-data pages on the GBIF website as, for example: (year) Citation guidelines. Available from [3rd November 2016].

GBIF as an infrastructure/entity

We recommend that those wishing to cite GBIF in a broader, more general context should use the following citation:

GBIF: The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (year) What is GBIF?. Available from [3rd November 2016].