I have a DEM (saved as a .tif) and, using QGIS, I want to clip the DEM using a vector mask.

The function will not work.

Am I missing critical step?

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    Welcome to GIS SE! Would you be able to edit your question to list the precise steps that you performed to try and do this, please? It will then be much easier for potential answerers to identify any missing step(s). – PolyGeo Sep 21 '14 at 5:47
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    Have the DEM and vector data the same CRS? What datasource does the vector file have (csv won't do, you have to save that as shapefile)? – AndreJ Sep 21 '14 at 6:04

If you have the GDAL plugin installed, you can use the Clip Raster by Mask Layer tool to clip your DEM to a vector polygon:

enter image description here

If this is the tool that you are trying to use already, then is there some kind of error that is being reported when you run the tool? Knowing what that is may help to diagnose the problem.

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