What is a DOI and how do I use them in citations?


A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, is a string of numbers, letters and symbols used to uniquely identify an article or document, and to provide it with a permanent web address (URL).

A DOI will help your reader easily locate a document from your citation. Think of it like a Social Security number for the article you're citing — it will always refer to that article, and only that one. While a web address (URL) might change, the DOI will never change.

Where can I find a DOI?

  • In most scholarly journal articles, the DOI will be printed with the article itself, usually on the first page somewhere: below the title or in the header or footer.
  • If the DOI isn't included in the article, look it up on the website (use the "Search Metadata" option) to check for an assigned DOI.

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

  • If your DOI starts with http:// or https://, simply paste it into your web browser. This will usually lead you to a journal publisher's page for the article.
  • You can turn any DOI starting with 10 into a URL by adding before the DOI. For example, 10.3352/jeehp.2013.10.3 becomes
  • If you're off campus when you do this, you'll need to use this URL prefix in front of the DOI to gain access to UIC's full text journal subscriptions: . For example:

Psst! It's not a bad idea to check the DOIs in your references list this way to make sure they lead to the correct articles!

How do I cite a journal article with a DOI in...

  • APA format?

    • In APA format (7th edition), include the DOI for all works that have one. It goes at the end of your reference--no period at the end. Write the DOI as a hyperlink starting with
      • Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range.
    • If your article has no DOI whatsoever, which may happen with older articles, simply omit this from the citation:
      • Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range.
    • If your article includes both a DOI and a URL, include only the DOI.
    • See these and other examples in the Purdue OWL: APA Formatting and Style Guide.
  • AMA/JAMA format?

    • When using a DOI in an AMA citation, do not include an "Accessed" date or a URL. Put the DOI at the end of your citation, prefaced with doi:
      • 1. Author AA, Author BB. Title of article. Name of Jrnl. Year;vol(issue):inclusive pages. doi:10.0000000/000000000000
  • MLA format?

    • As of the most recent (9th) edition, MLA encourages students to include the DOI at the end of the citation for an online scholarly journal article. If no DOI exists, use the URL.
      • Author LastName, FirstName, and FirstName LastName. "Article Title." Journal Name, vol. #, no. #, date, pp. ##-##. Name of Database, doi: 10.0000/000000000.
    • It's a good idea to check with your instructor whether they want you to include the date you accessed the article, although this is not required by MLA.


  • updated: Aug 19, 2021
  • views: 471313

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