Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. I work for a climate research group at a university. We are building a series of online tools for folks interested in using science to adapt to climate change. I need guidance on how our users should cite the unique forecasts and projections they produce using our tools. In a sense, the products (graphs, maps, etc.) are unique to them and their usage, meaning we could ask them to cite the access date, but that wouldn’t be that descriptive of what they were doing.

A. Although supplying a ready-made format might encourage users to acknowledge your products, so far it isn’t conventional to add such information to citations. Acknowledgment of software used to create or modify an image or data is more likely to appear in a caption or in-text explanation than in a formal citation, where the specific wording depends on how much information (version numbers, etc.) is likely to interest the intended reader.