How to cite the SEER database

A simple guide to cite the most comprehensive source of epidemiological data

The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database is one of the most commonly used resources for epidemiological data on cancer, not to mention that it is a free, easy to access data source for cancer researches from all over the world.

Last May I wrote an introductory article about how to access the SEER database for research purposes, but after that article was published, I have been receiving a lot emails asking me how to cite the SEER database or the SEER registry where the data was extracted to put it in the “references” section of the completed research paper. In this article, I am going to show you where to find the citation for every database or registry that you have extracted your data from.

So, let’s start.

1. Open the SEER*Stat software

The SEER*Stat is a software that is downloaded from the SEER database website, usually after you have obtained a username and password from the SEER program. If you have not done so yet, please watch the video below to learn how to do that.

After you have opened the SEER*Stat software, the initial interface of the program will look like the image below.

Figure 1. The initial interface of the SEER*Stat 8.3.8

2. Choose the type of statistic that you wish to use.

After you’ve opened the SEER*Stat software and got into the main interface of the program, you will need to choose which statistic you will want to choose to extract your data. Hover your mouse over any of the seven symbols to the upper left corner of figure 1 and click on it. I will choose the “Case Listing” symbol (looks like a table) and just click on it. Once it has been clicked, SEER*Stat will be prompt you to enter your username and password. Once you enter them, you will be given the “Case listing — Session 1 window” as shown in the figure 2 below.

Figure 2. Case Listing Session 1 window

3. Choose a database name.

By default, when the Case listing window opens, there will be four tabs at the upper left corner of the session window: Data, Selection, Table, and Output. Also by default, within the “Data” tab, the first database is chosen by the software and is found to be highlighted in blue. According to figure 2, the chosen database is “Incidence — SEER Research Data, 9 Registries, Nov 2019 Sub (1975–2017)”. You can choose another database based on your research needs, but in every time that you choose a different database by clicking on it, it will be highlighted in blue.

4. The suggested citation for your chosen database will be found at the bottom of the “Data” tab window (See figure 3 below).

Figure 3. The location of the SEER database-specific suggested citation

All you have to do now is copy that citation and paste it accordingly into your preferred citation manager.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

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