Citation Question: how to cite data acquired from the iNatrualist API

Hello! I used the iNatrualist API to download a couple hundered research-graded and cc-by-nc licenced observation images for a computer vision project recently, and I wonder how should I cite the observation properly for a paper.

I have read the https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#cite guidline, but there are some confusion on how I can acquired the DOI for the observations I downloaded form a couple months ago. I downloaded all the images using the request.get method off of the iNatrualist API instead of downlaoding it as a registered user on the GBIF, so there wasn’t any record for my downloads.

I used the request.get method to pull the data of about 500s observations(including the images) under the Rodentia taxa. However, within the data structure, I don’t see any information on the DOI of the corresponding data set for each observation.

Is there a way to identify the DOI for the data I acquired for the purpose of citation?

Much appreciated for your help.

Sincerely,
Season

There is no DOI associated with using the API. You’ll need to publish some sort of table/appendix or other way of citing the observations individually that meets the CC license guidelines for each of the observations that you use.

There are some other posts that may be of use:
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/data-usage-is-it-ok-to-include-observations-on-a-website/21173
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/citing-inaturalist-data/8684
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/questions-re-use-of-inaturalist-data-in-research-gbif-exports-licenses-of-observations/21400

The way I’ve cited images is with this format: [name], [hyperlink with the platform as the text showing], [license].

The iNaturalist API and the GBIF API are different, so GBIF mints DOIs but iNaturalist does not. If you can, and it sounds to me like you should be able to based on your description of the project, you should download the same data from GBIF to get a DOI for your project. Unfortunately, just citing the name of your download won’t be enough, so if you’re unable to do that, I would download the best GBIF data you can, and put the actual data in a repository (there are a lot of options), cite the actual data, cite the GBIF object, and cite the iNaturalist cite. For reproducibility, you should give the full details of how you accessed the data in your methods or in a footnote or in the description on the repository, which would include the API version, the specifics of your query, and how you interfaced with the iNaturalist API (sounds like some software package).

I’m happy to be corrected on this ^^ but this is my understanding of the best way to do it when you don’t have the GBIF download. And I’d encourage you to use the GBIF interface from the get-go on your next project. Feel free to follow up if you have questions about how to use the GBIF API or more generally how to download data from GBIF.

1 Like