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DOI Help: Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)


For APA 7, you need to provide the digital object identifier (DOI) number for articles and ebooks when available. If an item does not have a DOI, the citation will look like the citation for a print resource. You no longer need to locate a journal homepage as part of your citation. 

The goal of this guide is to help you find the DOI for your reference citations. Specifically, this guide will cover:

  • what DOIs are
  • how to find DOIs


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:

What is a Digital Object Identifier (DOI)?

What is a DOI?

Digital Object Identifiers, commonly shortened to DOIs, were invented to give each electronic, or digital, item a unique, persistent identifier. Any digital object can be assigned a DOI number, for example:

  • academic journal articles 
  • research reports 
  • governmental reports
  • data sets
  • books
  • conference proceedings
  • code
  • media 

Who assigns DOIs?

The DOI creation process is governed and managed by the International DOI Foundation. DOI Registration agencies under the International DOI Foundation provide services and registration of DOI numbers. They are typically focused on specific geographic areas or types of content. For example, EIDR provides DOI numbers for movie and television content.

Crossref is one of the registration agencies for the International DOI Foundation. It assigns DOIs to scholarly research publications. These publications include journal articles, books, and conference proceedings.

What do DOIs look like?

All DOIs start with the number 10 followed by a period. This is an example:


In APA 7, you format the DOIs as a URL, with "" before the number. For example:

Things to know

There are a couple of important things to know about DOIs.

  • Not every article or resources has a DOI.
  • DOIs are not related to the peer-review status of an article.
    • Both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles can have DOIs.

Find a DOI

Look at the article

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
doi: 10.1111/josi.12122


DOI: 10.111/dome.12082
Digest of Middle East Student - Volume 25, Number 1 - Pages 36-51
© 2016 Policy Studies Organization. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Look at information about the article

Library databases include information about an article. If an article has a DOI, you may find it listed in the information about the article.

Different databases call these article information sections different things. They may be called Detailed Record, Abstract, Abstract/Details, or you may need to click on the article title to see more information about the article. 

If you don't see the DOI on the article itself, look around the page in the database to see if the DOI is listed.


Search Crossref

You can look for a DOI using the Crossref website. Crossref is one of the organizations that assigns DOIs, with a focus on research articles. If Crossref doesn't have a DOI for an article, you can safely assume that the article doesn't have one. 

Follow these steps to search Crossref for an article's DOI: 

  1. Go to the website.
  2. Click on the Search Metadata tab above the search box.

  3. Enter the title of the article in the Title, Author, DOI, etc search box. For example:

    "Subjective well-being in times of social change: Congruence of control strategies and perceived control"

    Note: Putting the title in quotation marks tells the site to search for that exact title and can increase the accuracy of your search.

  4. Press the Enter key to run your search.
  5. Look through the list of results for your article. The DOI will be listed at the bottom of the entry. For this example it is:



Note: The actual DOI begins with 10. For APA 7, include "" in front of the number. To learn more about what form of the DOI to use in a reference citation, please see these Quick Answers from the Writing Center:


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.

  • Add the author's last name to your search.
    • For example: "Storytelling for social change" AND Winskell
  • Use the Year limiter in the left column to limit results to only the year in which your item was published.


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.