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Reference List: Electronic Source References

Basics of Citing Electronic Sources

In May 2012, the American Psychological Association digitally released the APA Style Guide to Electronic Resources, a PDF adaptation of Chapter 6 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition. Although this guide clarifies some citation and reference formats for new media and technologies, Walden will not be enforcing the alterations the guide makes to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition--including its new rules for addressing digital object identifiers (DOIs)--until these changes are included in a full seventh edition of the APA style publication. Students who have the guide and prefer to use the new DOI formatting method may do so, but it will not be required. For some helpful resources on electronic citation, explore this page and the other resources in this area of the site!

The sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual indicates the following as basic guidelines for citing electronic sources in the reference list.

  1. The retrieval date and database information are not needed for articles retrieved from online sources. Instead, include the article's DOI.
  2. If there is no DOI, provide the URL for the journal homepage as the second choice. The retrieval date is not required in this type of reference.
  3. In the rare instances that the journal does not have its own homepage (such as for older journals no longer in print but converted to online documents), provide (a) the database homepage or (b) the name of the database and the accession number.
  4. A retrieval date is only needed in the reference list for nonjournal instances where material might change at a later date.
  5. For online newspaper and magazine articles you need not provide the specific page number, retrieval date, or exact article URL. You would provide only the periodical's home page.
  6. For print or electronic journals, include the issue number only when the journal is paginated separately by issue.

View the flowchart below for help on deciding when to use a DOI number or URL.

For more information about DOI numbers, consult the Library's information:

Article (With DOI)

Laplante, J. P., & Nolin, C. (2014). Consultas and socially responsible investing in Guatemala: A case study examining Maya perspectives on the Indigenous right to free, prior, and informed consent. Society & Natural Resources, 27, 231–248. doi:10.1080/08941920.2013.861554 

Toren, Z., & Iliyan, S. (2008). The problems of the beginning teacher in the Arab schools in Israel. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 1041–1056. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2007.11.009

According to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.; APA) guidelines for citing sources, cite the DOI number whenever one is available. The DOI stands for digital object identifier, a number specific to this article that can help others locate the source. Include an issue number for the article only if the journal is paginated by issue rather than by volume. Although most journals are paginated by volume, you may find it helpful to consult the APA Style Blog's post, "How to Determine Whether a Periodical is Paginated by Issue."

Note also that Walden University allows students to use the new DOI format detailed in the APA Style Guide to Electronic Resources, but Walden will not require this new format until it is integrated into a future 7th edition manual. For more on citing electronic resources, see Electronic Sources References.

Article (With URL)

Eaton, T. V., & Akers, M. D. (2007). Whistleblowing and good governance. CPA Journal, 77(6), 66–71. Retrieved from

If an article does not have a DOI, then write “Retrieved from” followed by the periodical’s homepage URL.

HINT: You might have to conduct an Internet search for the periodical’s homepage.