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Development of a Comprehensive Food Data Citation Standard: A Surprising Gap in the Nutrition Research Literature


Shavawn Forester

Emily Jennings-Dobbs

Britt Burton-Freeman

Publication date

November 23, 2023


Current Developments in Nutrition


Currently, there is no standard for the citation of food composition data. This leads to the questions: how are food and nutrient data cited in research papers, and are they presented in a way that allows studies to be reproduced? To answer these questions, we performed a review of the literature and quantified the accuracy and completeness of data citations from publications (January to December 2020) in the top 5 nutrition journals as ranked by the Scimago Journal Rankings. We then performed a review of citation guidelines currently in place in other disciplines. Similar to the requirement of completing the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses checklist for systematic reviews, we have developed a comprehensive data citation checklist, the Comprehensive Food Data Citation (CFDC) checklist. The CFDC checklist was developed through a benchmarking assessment against established data citation standards. Its purpose is to establish a standardized, best-practice approach for reporting food composition data. The CFDC checklist has been designed to cater to both publishers and authors, ensuring consistency and accuracy in food composition data reporting. The CFDC checklist is also available as an interactive citation generator to facilitate the adoption of consistent and comprehensive citation of food composition data and is available at Despite general agreement that accurate data citation is paramount, this is the first citation standard specifically developed to capture food composition data. Because food composition data are the foundation of nutrition research, our proposed guidelines aim to provide the field with a much-needed foundation for acknowledging and sharing data in a way that fosters reproducibility.

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