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Citing File Exchange Submissions

Many of our community members are involved in some aspect of research and publication. Often they find content on MATLAB Central’s File Exchange that they want to reference in a paper. The question is how does one actually cite files downloaded from File Exchange? It’s not like citing a book, because the nature of the File Exchange is that submitters can, and do frequently, update their files. So how can a reader tell if the version is the same version used by the author of the paper they are reading?

This topic was discussed by a group of senior community members a while back. The server where their final recommendations were documented has been decommissioned so I thought I’d share their recommendations here for our community members.

The Approach
There are many publication styles such as APA or Chicago styles. Different styles often recommend different formats, but the information that should be shared usually includes:

  • Name of the document you are citing
  • Name of the site the document is hosted on, in this case, MATLAB Central File Exchange
  • Web address or URL for downloading
  • Date that the document was downloaded for the research being discussed in the publication


In this example, we are referencing a work by John D’Errico which has been on File Exchange since November 2005 and has been updated several times since. It’s a great example of why the retrieval date is important in a citation. If I were to author a paper referencing this file, here are my options on the citation:

With hyperlinks:
D’Errico, John (2005). Surface Fitting using gridfit, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved May 18, 2006.

In clear text, such as in a printed document:
D’Errico, John (2005). Surface Fitting using gridfit (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved May 18, 2006.

If you need something shorter:
Surface Fitting using gridfit by John D’Errico, May 18, 2006

So if you are authoring a paper, don’t forget to include this information for your users. And if you are reading a paper and you are downloading a file from MATLAB Central, don’t forget to check the publication date on the file in File Exchange.
Check file date.

Many thanks to the team of community members who worked together to establish these recommendations!

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