Answered By: Linda Neyer
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2020     Views: 80

A DOI is a Digital Object Identifier, a unique alphanumeric string used to identify an electronic document. DOIs are assigned to scholarly journal articles by journal publishers much like ISBNs are assigned to books by their publishers. Since DOIs are permanent, APA Style recommends using the DOI when citing an online journal article instead of a URL, which can change:

If there is no DOI for the article (as will be the case with many older articles), then according to APA Style cite the URL for the home page of the journal:

Howard, K. R. (2007). Childhood overweight: Parental perceptions and readiness for change. The Journal of School Nursing, 23, 73-79. Retrieved from

Where can you locate a DOI?

  • In the full-text article itself, prominently displayed on the first page
  • In some databases, the DOI will be listed in a DOI field or in the URL field, for example: The DOI in this case is 10.1080/09243453.2010.543538
  • If the DOI isn't given in the article or in the database record for the article, you can search the "Cross Ref Free DOI Lookup" here.


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