Cleveland State University

The Writing Center

APA: Using a DOI in Your Reference List

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.  Below is a guide on how to cite with a DOI number.

What Is a DOI?

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:

DOI:  10.1111/j.1467-873X.2008.00424.x

How Do You Use a DOI in a Reference List?

You use a DOI number instead of the URL.  You do not 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:

          10.1080/10400410701841955.

(Note:  The APA manual uses lower case in the reference list but all caps in the explanations.)

How a Reader Uses a DOI Number

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. 

Use the URL if There Is No DOI Number

When there is no DOI number, use the URL.  Here is an example:

Bunce, A.  (1995, September 9).  Beowulf in the boardroom:  Executive ponder

          poetry.  Christian Science Monitor.  Retrieved from

          http://www.lexisnexis.com/us/lnacademic/auth/checkbrowser.do?ipcounter=1&cookieState=0&rand=0.1250821016424858&bhcp=1

APA Electronic Reference Style Guide

The Library has a copy and so does the Writing Center.  You can download a copy for $11.95 from:
http://books.apa.org/books.cfm?id=4210509
The Purdue Online Writing Center web site also has a fantastic APA electronic references section that includes DOIs:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/.    

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