When citing electronic resources, the APA manual (sixth edition) dictates the inclusion of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), when available. When an item does not have a DOI, the URL for the journal homepage can be used instead. The goal of this guide is to help you find the DOI or journal homepage for your reference citations. Specifically, this guide will cover:
This guide will not cover how to correctly cite articles using APA style. For help with citation questions, please contact the Writing Center or refer to the Writing Center's resources on their website:
With the advent of so much digital content, Digital Object Identifier names, commonly shortened to DOIs, were invented to give each item a unique, persistent identifier. While they are primarily assigned to academic journal articles and research reports, you may see DOIs for governmental reports, data sets, books, conference proceedings, and media as some publishers choose to have DOIs assigned to these items.
DOIs are created and maintained by the International DOI Foundation. Crossref is a registration agency for the International DOI Foundation and assigns DOIs to scholarly research publications. These publications include journal articles, along with some books and conference proceedings.
Note: Currently, APA style only requires DOIs to be included in journal article reference citations. Even if a book or other publication has a DOI, you do not need to include it in the reference citation.
All DOIs start with the number 10 followed by a period. This is an example:
There are a couple of important things to know about DOIs.
The first place to look for a DOI is the article itself. Many publishers will include the DOI somewhere on the first page of the article. Here are a few examples:
Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 71, No. 3, 2015, pp. 441-452
Digest of Middle East Student - Volume 25, Number 1 - Pages 36-51
© 2016 Policy Studies Organization. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
The second place to look for a DOI is the Crossref website. As the organization that assigns DOIs to research articles, if Crossref doesn't have a DOI for an article, you can safely assume that the article doesn't have one.
Here is how you can search Crossref's website to see if an article has a DOI:
Note: The actual DOI begins with 10. To learn more about what form of the DOI to use in a reference citation, please see this Quick Answer:
Searches in Crossref always bring back results, even if the article you are looking for isn't there. If you don't see your article in the first page of results, here are a few things to try.
If you still don't find the article you are looking for in Crossref, you can safely assume that it does not have a DOI.
When an article does not have a DOI, you'll need to cite the article using the URL of the journal homepage.
Please note: The purpose of including the URL of the journal homepage is not to direct the reader to the individual article that you are citing. Links to individual articles may change, but the URL of the journal homepage should remain fairly constant.
Here is an example of how you can look up the journal homepage for the journal, Educational Researcher.