Top tip: literature, data use and how it's all linked

How to search and browse through 5,000 pieces of GBIF-relevant literature, and find the papers that your dataset enabled


Since 2011 the GBIF Secretariat has been tracking the use of GBIF-mediated data in literature. Though often limited to articles in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, citations of GBIF datasets and downloads also make their way into other types of publications, including academic dissertations, environmental impact assessments, books, technical reports, and a wide range of websites.

The literature tracking programme involves categorizing literature at a high level (type of literature, relevance to GBIF, peer-review status, etc.) and also at a finer level (topics, countries of focus/researchers, GBIF use, etc.). Once an item has been validated and properly categorized, we add it to the literature index and it becomes visible and searchable on

You can search for literature by keywords (e.g. words used in the title, author names, etc.) and a number of search facets. Here’s a few examples to illustrate how easy it is:

Searching by keywords

Let’s say I wanted to find GBIF-relevant papers related to Lassa fever:


Searching using facets

As with occurrence searches, searching in literature and other resources provides the option of using facets to narrow your search. For literature, these are your main options:

Countries Of Researcher

Example: Let’s find all papers authored by researchers in Sweden

155 papers - go Sweden!

Countries Of Coverage

Example: Or, how about papers with a specific geographic coverage, say Antarctica:

23 papers added to my reading list!

Literature Type

Example: You want books, theses, or just plain ol’ journal articles? Take your pick:


Example: To filter by relevance to the GBIF community, you can select to see papers that simply cite GBIF (GBIF Cited), or papers that make substantial use of GBIF-mediated data (GBIF Used).

The remaining options are

  • Discussed: papers that discuss GBIF
  • Primary: papers where GBIF is the main source of data
  • Acknowledged: papers that acknowledge GBIF
  • Published: papers that describe data published in GBIF
  • Author: papers authored by GBIF staff
  • Mentioned: papers that mention GBIF
  • Funded: papers funded by GBIF


Example: If you are only interested in items published in a specific period, use the slider to narrow your search. For just one single year, choose is from the drop-down and pick your year.


Example: Want to find all papers about citizen science? Climate change? Invasive alien species? The topic facet will help you!


Example: Just want the gold standard of scientific literature? Apply the peer-reviwed filter, and you’re set.

Open access

Example: To be able to read and re-use research papers freely, open access is the way to go. This filter allows you to get just the OA literature and avoid hitting those pesky paywalls.

Combining facets

You can combine the use of search facets to make your searches even more specific. A few examples:

And so on…

Linking literature to data

When researchers make use of data from in their studies, we strongly encourage them to use standard citations that include unique DOIs representing exactly the data they downloaded. This practice ensures proper attribution of data holders and publishers, and facilitates reproducibility of research. While the uptake of DOIs in data citations has been slow, it is steadily increasing. And with the new in place, we can use these citations to show links between scientific literature and data published in

In literature searches, you can access papers by links to data either by a specific dataset or publisher. For example, let’s find all papers that used data in the Australia’s Virtual Herbarium dataset:

Direct links to such citations are also visible publisher and download pages. For example, the GBIF Benin publisher page:

Most cited datasets

Among the occurrence datasets with the CC0 license waiver, the following have received the highest number of DOI citations:

Dataset Number of citations
Natural History Museum (London) Collection Specimens 38
Field Museum of Natural History (Botany) Seed Plant Collection 27
Bernice P. Bishop Museum 26
Phanerogamic Botanical Collections (S) 24
Botany (UPS) 23
Naturalis Biodiversity Center (NL) - Botany 22
Herbarium Berolinense 22
The New York Botanical Garden Herbarium (NY) - Vascular Plant Collection 21
LACM Vertebrate Collection 21
Artportalen (Swedish Species Observation System) 21