Psychology and Education @St. Thomas

October 20, 2009

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) in APA Style

Filed under: APA,Citations — merriealynn @ 6:10 pm

Handout on DOIs: How do I find one?

Recently a student said to me, “RefWorks is making a lot of mistakes recently. It just adds a whole slew of numbers at the end of citations! How do I fix that?”

The answer is: Don’t fix it! The slew of numbers is called the DOI and it belongs there.

Here’s a sample citation with the DOI in bold (Don’t bold it for a real citation):
Brownlie, D. Toward effective poster presentations: An annotated bibliography. European Journal of Marketing, 41(11/12), 1245-1283. doi:10.1108/03090560710821161
ISBN identifies a particular edition of a book.
ISBN identifies a particular edition of a book.

Most people are aware of the ISBN for a book — the number above the barcode on the back of books. There is a number for the particular book, edition, format, and sometimes, printing.

Each journal has its own number, as well, an ISSN. This is especially helpful, because journal, magazine and newspaper names change often. The number identifies the same journal through all the name changes.
In the past 15 years, online articles, published in online journals, have been receiving their own special number — that’s the DOI. APA style now requires a DOI at the end of a citation, if the article has one. (It doesn’t always. If it’s only available in print or it’s old, it won’t have one.)
Why does APA require the DOI? With this number, you can go directly to the article with just a few clicks. There is no need to search for it in databases or your library’s catalog. Furthermore, when and if the journal changes publishers, which happens often, the number will remain the same. You can still find it.
Where do you find the DOI? In many databases, it’s listed at the top of the page or record.
Where to find a DOI in ScienceDirect

In others, it’s hidden under the word “Article” or under a logo/button for the database, like CrossRef or PubMed. If it’s under the logo, just mouse over it and right click on “Copy shortcut” or “Get link”. Click on the link.

If you can’t find the DOI on the paper or in the citation, go to It may find the DOI for you.

To find an article if you already know its DOI, go to or Enter the DOI in the search box. You’ll be connected with the article. If access is denied, you’ll have to go to our library’s home page and search for it like you normally would.

You may also enter it into the address box in your browser, like this:

This leads to the article:

Aronoff, M., Meir, I., Padden, C., & Sandler, W. (2008). Language is shaped by the body. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31(5), 509-511. doi:10.1017/S0140525X08005001

Handout on using DOI in APA Style

Make sense? Please ask any questions, comment on your ideas, OMGs, life stories you have about citations. I’m waiting patiently for them…

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1 Comment »

  1. [...] DOI in RefWorks Filed under: Uncategorized — merriealynn @ 12:09 am In an earlier post, I talked about the DOI and its use in APA citations.   [...]

    Pingback by DOI in RefWorks « Psychology and Education @St. Thomas — February 13, 2010 @ 12:09 am | Reply

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