What is a Digital Object Identifier (DOI)?

What is a DOI?

The new APA citation style manual includes a significant change in citing electronic resources. Instead of a database name and a retrieval date, users are now expected to include a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) assigned to an online article. A DOI is a unique identifier that provides a persistent link to an article online. APA style now requires a DOI when citing scholarly research articles that are found online (including Oregon Tech library’s databases).


Brinkmann, S. (2009). Facts, values, and the

    naturalistic fallacy in psychology. New

    Ideas In Psychology, 27(1), 1-17.

    doi: 10.1016/j.newideapsych.2007.10.001

What if the article I am citing does not have a DOI?

Some research databases, such as Academic Search Premier, PsycINFO, and PsycARTICLES, include DOIs in their article records (if one is available), and citing articles from these sources is simple. Many other research databases, however, do not.

If a database does not include a DOI in its article records, use CrossRef.org website’s “free DOI lookup” to see if a DOI exists for that article.

DOI search

Type the necessary information in the box and click Search. Your article's DOI will be displayed:

DOI result

What if CrossRef cannot find a DOI?

If the DOI of the desired article is still unavailable, two alternatives are acceptable: 

  • Give the exact URL of the article (if it is in open access and no sign-in is required)
  • Give the URL of the journal publisher’s home page (if it is from a licensed database)

Taken in part from:

Lewis, L. A. (2008). From the front lines: An academic librarian’s reports on the impact of APA’s new Electronic References Guidelines. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 48(2),128-131.

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last updated: February 2010