What Is DOI And How Do I Use Them In Citations?

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What is DOI?

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique identifier for electronic documents such as journal articles, research articles, book chapters but they can also represent rang of other content such as individual tables, figures, research dataset, and many other items.

DOI is a permanent and never-changing string of numbers, symbols, and letters assigned to online published articles to identify an article or document.

DOI system began in 2000 and is managed by the International DOI foundation and its affiliates.

According to DOI.org, as of 2017, there are 133 million DOI names assigned and over 5 billion DOI resolution per year.

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DOI can be divided into two parts:
  • Prefix which indicates the registrant
  • Suffix which is chosen by the registrant for that item.
Where can I find the DOI?
  • In most recently published articles, DOI is clearly visible or printed on the article itself when you open a research article database.
  • DOI usually printed somewhere on the first page, header, or footer.
  • If the DOI is not presented or printed on first page, header, or footer then search DOI on the website CrossRef.org (“Search Metadata” Box to find DOI).

What is DOI? DOI Example 1

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What is DOI? DOI Example 2

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What is DOI? DOI Example 3

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DOIs format:





Why DOI?

DOI as it indicated by names digital object identifier, is a unique identification number like a Social Security number in United States, Aadhaar Card number is India, or National identification number in China.

It helps reader to easily retrieve, locate research articles or documents from your citations.

Using the DOI when referring to an item is more predictable and persistent that using just URL of that article as many times URLs may change.

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How can I use a DOI to find the article it refers to?

Pre-2011: DOIs started with the number 10 and there are article out there still formatted this way.

You can turn any DOI into a URL by adding

http://doi.org/ before the DOI.

For example, http://doi.org/10.3352/jeehp.2013.10.3

Post-2011: The recommended and most accepted format for DOIs is an active link.

For example, if your DOI starts with http://


https://, simply paste it into your web browser.

How do I cite DOI in a journal article?

There are three most acceptable format to cite a journal article with a DOI.

APA format: Prefer DOI whenever possible.

If DOI is not available, then use source’s URL in the citation.

Place the DOI or URL at the end of the research article citation.

A DOI should be represented by a “doi:” label and should always be written in lowercase.

The APA format od DOI citation allows the use of either older string format doi.org format (“https://doi.org/10.0000/0000”) or

modern alphanumeric (“doi:0000000/000000000000”).

If using a URL of research article to cite, include the phrase “Retrieved from…” before the URL.

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. https://doi.org/10.00/0000

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. https://doi.org/10.0000/0000

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MLA format: In MLA style of DOI citation, stable URLs are preferrable to normal URLs.

Use them if they are available.

Place the DOI or URL before the access date, which comes at the end of the citation.

Access dates are optional when using DOIs.

If using a URL for citation in the research article, do not include the “https://” or “http://” portion of the string.

Author. “Title.” Title of journal, Other contributors (translators or editors), Number (vol. and/or issue no.), publication year, www.someaddress.com/full/url/ or doi:0000000/00000000000. Accessed dd Mmm. yyyy.

Author LastName, FirstName, and FirstName LastName. “Article Title.” Journal Name, vol. #, no. #, date, pp. ##-##. Name of Database, doi: 10.00/000.

AMA/ JAMA format: If you are using a DOI in an AMA citation in your research, do not include an “Accessed” date or a URL.

Put the DOI at the end of your citation, prefaced with “doi:”

Author(s). Title. Journal Name. Year;vol(issue no.):page range. https://www.someaddress.com/full/url/ or doi:10.0000000/000000000000

Author AA, Author BB. Title of article. Name of Jrnl. Year;vol(issue):inclusive pages. doi:10.0000000/000000000000

Chicago format:

Lastname, First/middle initials. “Title of Article.” Journal Title volume number, issue no. (Year): page range. https://www.someaddress.com/full/url/ or doi:000/0000000


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