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The date format is the format that represents the date system used by the date data. The Sci2 algorithms support date format schema that is defined in the Java documentation at here. The following are some guides to identify the date formats used in your data set.

How to view the date string in the data set

Most of the editor will convert the date string to the human readable format. For example, a date 'January 3, 1999 16:49' is displayed as 3-Jan-99 16:49 in Excel worksheet. So it is recommended you use a plaint text editor. The following is some recommentation:
i) Windows' system: WordPad, Notepad, Microsoft Word.
ii) Mac's system: TextEdit, Emacs, TextWrangler.
iii) Linux and Unix system: gEdit, Text Editor,Emacs, or any command line commands such as VIM, Nano, etc.

The following are some quick guides about ISI and NSF data's date format.

Common date format for NSF and ISI data

NSF

A standard NSF file contains the following date columns: Start Date, Last Amendment Date, and Expiration Date. An example of the date string and the relative date format is shown below.
Example date: January 3, 1999
Date format: MMMMM d, yyyy

ISI

A standard ISI file contains the following date columns: Cited Year, Publication Date and Publication Year. The Cited Year and Publication Year columns only contains year information while the publication date only contains month and day of month information. The following is the examples of the date string with the relative date format.

The Cited Year and Publication Year columns
Example date: 1923
Date format: yyyy

The Publication Date column
The Publication Date column might contains vary formats such as JAN, JAN-APR and JAN 03. However, most data only contains month value. We suggest you to change all date to the following example form and use the provided date format.
Example date: JAN
Date format: MMM

Other data

If your data is not ISI nor NSF data. You can use on of the following guides to retrieve the date format of your data.

Convert with Excel worksheet and use the following setting

This only applicable if your data file is compatible with Excel worksheet
i) Open with Excel worksheet and save the file as different name
ii) Find out your date string by following the 'How to view the date string in the data set' guidance
iii) Load the new data file into Sci2 tool and using the following matched example date string

Example date: 3/12/2011 13:17
Date format: M/dd/yyyy HH:mm

Example date: 3/12/2011
Date format: MM/dd/yyyy

Example date: 1-Apr
Date format: d-MMM

Example date: 1-Jan-11
Date format: d-MMM-yy

Do it your self with Java Documentation

i) Find out your date string by following the 'How to view the date string in the data set' guidance
ii) Retrieve your date format by combining the fields format that are defined at here