A huge amount of work goes into creating data sets. It is crucial that these data, big or small, should be more prominently linked to their associated research articles as standard practice.

To achieve this, data can be cited directly in a publication's reference section using a permanent identifier such as a digital object identifier (DOI; see, for example, go.nature.com/vnyidi and go.nature.com/zdfbcl). So far, however, only very few journals do this.

Publishers, funders, researchers and institutions all need to recognize that data sets constitute a valuable scholarly resource. Authors should be credited for these career-making contributions. Enhanced data-set visibility would also benefit referees and readers by raising standards of data analysis, promoting more detailed review, encouraging data curation and boosting reproducibility and data reuse.