In the digital age, where information is abundant and easily accessible, citing sources accurately is more crucial than ever. Enter the Digital Object Identifier (DOI), a unique alphanumeric string assigned to digital documents to provide a persistent link to their location on the internet. In this article, we delve into the significance of DOIs, how to locate them, and their usage across various citation styles.

What is a DOI?

A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, serves as a permanent link to a specific digital document, such as a scholarly article, report, or dataset. Unlike URLs, which can change over time or become obsolete, DOIs provide a stable and reliable means of accessing digital content, even if the location of the document changes.

DOIs consist of a unique combination of numbers, letters, and symbols, organised into a standardised format. They typically resemble something like this: 10.1080/00751634.2023.2287354. Each DOI is associated with metadata that provides essential information about the document, including its title, authors, publication date, and publisher.

Where to Find a DOI

Locating a DOI for a particular document is relatively straightforward. Many scholarly databases and academic publishers include DOIs alongside their publications. Here are some common places where you can find a DOI:

Database Search Results: When you search for articles in academic databases such as PubMed, JSTOR, or Google Scholar, the search results often display the DOI alongside each entry.
Journal Websites: Many scholarly journals display the DOI prominently on their websites, usually near the top of the article or within the citation information.
PDF Documents: If you have access to the full-text PDF of a document, the DOI is often included on the first page or in the header/footer of the document.
CrossRef: CrossRef is a digital DOI registration agency that maintains a database of millions of DOIs. You can search for DOIs directly on the CrossRef website using metadata such as the article title or author names.

Using DOIs to Locate Articles

Once you have a DOI, accessing the corresponding document is simple. You can use the DOI to locate the article through various means:

Direct Entry: Simply enter the DOI into your web browser's address bar, preceded by "".
For example, if the DOI is 10.1080/00751634.2023.2287354, you would enter "" into your browser.
CrossRef Search: Visit the CrossRef website and use their DOI search tool to enter the DOI and retrieve the associated document.
Database Search: Some academic databases allow you to search directly by DOI. Simply enter the DOI into the database's search bar to locate the article.

Do All Documents Have a DOI?

While DOIs are commonly used for scholarly articles and other academic documents, not all digital documents have a DOI assigned to them. However, the use of DOIs has become increasingly widespread, particularly in the academic and scientific communities.
Many reputable publishers and journals now assign DOIs to their articles to ensure their long-term accessibility and citability. However, non-academic documents such as blog posts, web pages, and informal publications may not have DOIs assigned to them.

Using DOIs in Different Citation Styles

Citing sources accurately is essential in academic writing, and different citation styles have specific guidelines for citing digital documents with DOIs. Here's how to use DOIs in APA, MLA, and Chicago styles:

Using DOIs in APA Style

In APA style, include the DOI at the end of the reference entry for digital documents whenever available. The format of references in the APA 7th edition typically ends with:

Using DOIs in MLA Style

In MLA style, include the DOI in the works cited entry, following this format:

doi: 10.1080/00751634.2023.2287354

Using DOIs in Chicago Style

In Chicago style, include the DOI in the citation, typically within the footnote or endnote:


In conclusion, DOIs are vital in facilitating accurate citation and access to digital documents in scholarly research. Understanding how to locate and use DOIs according to different citation styles enhances the credibility and integrity of academic writing, ensuring proper acknowledgement of sources and fostering transparency in research dissemination.

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