What is a DOI, how do I find it, and how do I cite it?


What is a DOI?

A DOI or Digital Object Identifier is a unique combination of numbers, symbols, and letters that are assigned to an article or other document on the web. It is similar to an ISBN for a book or a URL for a website.

DOIs are different from URLs because they are persistent; they are intended to be permanent links that don't change. DOIs should always take you to information about the document or article, but don't necessarily give you access to the full-text (for free). Contact a librarian if you are having trouble getting access to an online document.

How do I find the DOI?

Not all web documents have DOIs. DOIs are more commonly associated with scholarly journals, although some e-books may also have them. If you have found an article or e-book in a library database, look for a "cite" option to find the DOI. The DOI is also listed in the "detailed record" in articles found in databases (see picture below) and/or on the first page of the PDF version.

Other ways to locate the DOI:

  • the publisher's website: do a web search for the article or book title to find the DOI. It is often listed under the title or can be found in a "cite this" tool.
  • Crossref.org- click on "search metadata" to search by author or title

How do I cite DOIs in my paper? All of the following styles prefer the use of DOIs over URLs, if available.

APA: The DOI is listed at the end of the citation. The preferred way to cite a DOI is using the following format:


For example:

Linn, M. (2019). Aristotle and the Globalism Objection to Virtue Ethics. Journal of Ethics23(1), 55–76. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10892-019-09281-7

MLA: The DOI is listed at the end of citation using the following format:


For example:

Linn, Marcella. “Aristotle and the Globalism Objection to Virtue Ethics.” Journal of Ethics, vol. 23, no. 1, Mar. 2019, pp. 55–76. EBSCOhost, https://doi.org/doi:10.1007/s10892-019-09281-7.

Chicago Manual of Style: The DOI is listed at the end of the citation. The preferred way to cite a DOI is using the following format:


For example:

Wick, Robert G. “‘He Was a Friend of Us Poor Men’: Ida M. Tarbell and Abraham Lincoln’s View of Democracy.” Indiana Magazine of History 114, no. 4 (December 2018): 255–82. https://doi.org/10.2979/indimagahist.114.4.01.

More Resources:

OWL at Purdue: General Model for Citing Web Sources in Chicago Style

OWL at Purdue: Citing Electronic Sources using APA

OWL at Purdue: MLA: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)

  • Last Updated Jan 06, 2023
  • Views 51
  • Answered By Patty Hude

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