You have probably had difficulty at some time locating information about electronic resources: they can change or even disappear, and that makes citing them in your reference list challenging. Various publishers have started using what is called a DOI number that offers readers a persistent link to the source on the Internet. This handout explains how to cite with a DOI number.
A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a string of numbers and letters that uniquely identify a source. They can be found in a library entry; here is an example:
Use a DOI number instead of the URL. You don’t need to list the database you used to find the source either. Here is an example:
Prabhu, V., Sutton, C., & Sauser, W. (2008). Creativity and certain personality
personality traits: Understanding the mediating effect of intrinsic
motivation. Creativity Research Journal, 20(1), 53-66. doi:
(Note: The APA manual uses lower case in the reference list but all caps in the explanations.)
Your professor can check your reference by entering the DOI into www.CrossRef.org where the number will serve as a way to find that reference.
When there is no DOI number, use the URL. Here’s an example:
Bunce, A. (1995, September 9). Beowulf in the boardroom: Executive ponder
poetry. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from
The Library has a copy and so does the Writing Center. You can download a copy for $11.95 from:
The Purdue Online Writing Center web site also has a fantastic APA electronic references section that includes DOIs: