Friday, October 2, 2009

The doi and APA

The doi

A student requested I write about the doi, tell what it is, how to find it and how to use it.

Because documents on the internet may be moved around, international publishers developed a system called the doi or “document object identifier.” This number, which always begins with 10, is a number that will permanently mark and follow that document, making retrieval at a later date easier. Not all documents currently have a doi, though they are being assigned over time.

In the past, when you have referenced a journal article using APA (5th edition) you listed the retrieved on date and either the database from where you got the article OR the URL. Now, if there is a doi, you just use that, no retrieval date, no URL, no database name.

The doi’s I have seen are usually fairly easy to find, though some are hidden. I have found them at or near the top or the bottom of the first page of text (which APA recommends), under a copyright statement, or under the publication information. However, sometimes the doi is hidden behind a button (e.g. Article, CrossRef or PubMed button) and you must click on the button to get the doi. Make sure you cut and paste the doi onto your paper, as it is easy to mess up otherwise.

If you find a doi on a journal article, the reference entry will look like:

Washington, G. & Jefferson, T. (2000). Political alliances, past and future.

Journal of American Politics, 17, 33-41. doi 10.1021/2209-6133.22.4.033

(remember to indent every line after the first line within a reference entry 5 spaces- blogspot won't let me do it in the above example).

According to APA 6th edition, the doi can also be found on the database landing page for the article (full record display). It often DOES NOT say "doi" and is a long string of numbers and characters starting with 10.

Keep writing!

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