Data accessed through VAL is free—but not free of obligations. Under the VAL's Terms of Use, users agree to acknowledge, reference or attribute downloaded information referred to in any published material as outlined below or detailed in the metadata accompanying data downloads.

Why good citation practices are important

Good citation practices ensure transparency and reproducibility by guiding others to the original sources of information. They also reward data-publishing institutions and individuals by reinforcing the value of sharing open data and demonstrating its impact to their stakeholders and funders. 

Tracking data use and reporting on ways VAL is used (our impact) is an important part of our work. It helps to safeguard ongoing investment and commitment from sponsors to maintain and improve the VAL’s digital biodiversity infrastructure, and provide open, usable, shareable data to users across research, government, community and schools.

Different ways to cite VAL

The type of citation best suited to your needs depends on:

  • what type of information you use (e.g. data, images, or perhaps you are collaborating with us) 
  • which part of VAL you use (e.g. a dataset, downloaded data, one of our tools such as the Spatial Portal), and
  • how you use the information (e.g. in a publication, on a website, developing a new app)

Acknowledging VAL

General Acknowledgement

Users of VAL are requested to acknowledge the Vermont Atlas of Life in any publications resulting from use of VAL facilities, as follows:

We acknowledge the use of the Vermont Atlas of Life - 

To acknowledge the VAL as a partner or collaborator

The Vermont Atlas of Life is made possible by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and contributions from its funders, partners, and volunteer community scientists.

Citing specific information from VAL

Citing occurrence record data downloaded from VAL

VAL automatically creates a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for every occurrence record data download. Please ensure the DOI is cited in any publications utilizing data within a download.

Details on your data download and the associated DOI can be found in the email for the download. In addition, the entire history of a user's occurrence record downloads, including all associated DOIs, can be found in the registered user's 'My Profiles' area: ‘View your downloaded records’. Please contact us if you require any assistance.

Vermont Atlas of Life occurrence download at Accessed 24 January 2021.

Citing occurrence record data accessed using VAL web services

VAL web services

Accessing occurrence data from VAL in R, Python and other programming languages via VAL APIs is fast and easy. It is, however, important to keep in mind that the citation requirements of the VAL Terms of Use still apply. Tools returning results directly from the VAL search API will not assign DOIs for data downloaded.

It is up to the user to identify dataset publishers and properly acknowledge each of them when citing the data.

Citing a Specific VAL project or atlas

Specific VAL projects often have a suggested citation on the web site, datasets with DOIs, or lists of reports and publications. For example: 

For the Vermont Bumble Bee Atlas website: 

McFarland, K.P., L. Richardson, and S. Zahendra. 2015. Vermont Bumble Bee Atlas. Vermont Center for Ecostudies – Vermont Atlas of Life. Retrieved from DATE ACCESSED.

For a publication or report from the Vermont Bumble Bee Atlas:

Richardson, L. L., K.P. McFarland, S. Zahendra, and S. Hardy. 2018. Bumble bee (Bombus) distribution and diversity in Vermont, USA: a century of change. Journal of Insect Conservation. 

For a dataset from the Vermont Bumble Bee Atlas:

McFarland K, Hardy S, Zahendra S, Richardson L (2020): Vermont Bumble Bee Atlas 2012 - 2014. v1.4. Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Dataset/Samplingevent.

Citing VAL web pages

Those wishing to cite VAL's website in general can use the following example:

Vermont Atlas of Life website at Accessed 24 January 2021.

Please Note: This approach is not an accepted alternative for citing data downloads.

Users can cite non-data pages on the VAL website as, for example:

Vermont Atlas of Life website at Accessed 24 January 2021.

Citing a Species Account (including occurrence distribution maps)

Species page should be cited in the following way:

Data Explorer example: Vermont Atlas of Life. Species Account: Accessed 24 January 2021.

Project site example: Hardy, Spencer, Leif L. Richardson, Michael Veit, Joan Milam, Mark Ferguson, Kent P. McFarland. 2021. "Species Account:  Parnassia Miner (Andrena parnassiae)." Vermont Atlas of Life Wild Bee Survey. Vermont Center for Ecostudies, 8 March 2021,

Should a species occurrence distribution map taken from an VAL Species page be reproduced, please ensure that all attributions at the bottom of the image are retained. Otherwise, please cite Leaflet, OpenStreetMap and Carto DB in addition to the VAL.

Note: If making assertions about the distribution of a given taxon, consider creating an occurrence record download. This will ensure a persistent time-stamped snapshot of data with a DOI that can be cited in the same way as occurrence data downloads.

Citing a List

Lists are a convenient way to work with data in the ALA. If you have utilized an existing list, please cite it in the following way:

Vermont Atlas of Life website. List: Accessed 24 January 2021.

Citing information retrieved via the VAL Spatial Portal

VAL's Spatial Portal comes with a suite of tools to import, display, analyse and export spatially referenced data and analytical results. The Spatial Portal has been designed to provide maximum flexibility when dealing with spatial data, such as species, species attribute, areas and environmental layers. Combinations of these elements can be combined using the Spatial Portal's tools. Due to its versatility, it is up to the user to identify all elements (such as occurrence records, map data, spatial layers etc) that require acknowledgement and properly cite each of them when producing written materials. This also includes screenshots taken of any maps or outputs of data analysis tools such as the Scatterplot.

Some of the most commonly utilised elements of the Spatial Portal that may require attribution are:

Citation details/considerations
Species occurrence records
For citing exported occurrence records, please refer to 'Citing occurrence record data downloaded from the ALA'. Please note that if you download point data that includes information derived from specific Spatial Layers, these layers should be acknowledged in accordance with the licence in the metadata


Ensure all records used to create the map are of a license that permits that use. The Spatial Portal's base map may be Openstreetmaps or Google or the ALA's country outline. In the former cases, under 'Map options', there is an information icon (i) next to the map that links to the relevant information. For example, you can credit OpenStreetMap as:


Spatial layers available in the Spatial Portal include environmental (e.g., temperature), contextual (e.g., States and Territories) and biodiversity surfaces as well as named areas in the Spatial Portal's gazetteer. Details on layers, including their licencing notes and citation information can be found in the metadata, or in the information icon  pop-up located next to the mapped layer name in the Spatial Portal. For example, the required citation for the 'CAPAD 2016' Terrestrial layer' is "‘Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD) 2016, Commonwealth of Australia 2017".

Usage of particular Spatial Portal tools (e.g., AOO and EOO Tool, Scatterplot, Tabulate) should be attributed as follows:

Vermont Atlas of Life - Spatial Portal. AOO and EOO Tool - species name (Vermont) at Accessed 24 January 2021.

To cite the Spatial Portal itself, please use:

Belbin, Lee (2011). The Atlas of Livings Australia’s Spatial Portal. In, Proceedings of the Environmental Information Management Conference 2011 (EIM 2011), Jones, M., B. & Gries, C. (eds.), 39-43. Santa Barbara.

Material adapted from the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia by Atlas of Living Australia for the Vermont Atlas of Life.