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Citing Sources

How to find an article's DOI to include in a citation

A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a unique identifier that identifies digital objects. The object may change physical locations, but the DOI assigned to that object will never change. Journal publishers often assign DOIs to electronic copies of individual articles in their journals. Because the DOI insures findability for the e-journal article, many citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian, etc.) require the use of a DOI in a citation for e-journal content. Below are some methods that can be used to obtain DOIs:

  • Go to and follow the instructions provided there to search for a DOI using the article title and author's last name. If this method doesn't yield a DOI, don't assume that a DOI doesn't exist. Follow up with the next two options.
  • If a journal publisher uses DOIs, they will usually print the DOI somewhere on the first page of the article. Open the full-text source and look for the DOI on the article's first page, usually in the header or footer.
  • Some online resources, such as EBSCO databases, will supply DOIs in their citation formatter. View the full citation to see if a DOI is included.

DOI Pro Tip:

  • Some articles won't have a DOI. The International DOI Foundation was created in 1998 but not all publishers immediately started assigning DOIs. The publisher Elsevier, for example, appears to have started using DOIs on all of their journal articles around 2003. So unless a publisher has retrospectively assigned DOIs to articles, articles published prior to 1998 are less likely to have DOIs. So, if you have tried all the suggestions above, but you still cannot find the DOI, it may be that your article does not have one.

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