All About DOIs

Anyone who’se familiar with APA referencing has probably seen a DOI before. DOIs are used when referencing digital objects, like online journal articles. In an APA reference for an online journal article, they’ll appear at the end of the reference.

What is a DOI?

DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier, and refers to a string of characters assigned to different types of electronic objects. These can be journal articles, eBooks, datasets, or even images and tables found within another item. All DOIs begin with 10, and are constructed of two different parts separated by a slash – the first identifies the organisation responsible for the item, such as the journal or the publisher, while the latter part is unique to the item.

How do we find them?

You’ll usually find the DOI on the database summary page of an electronic item, or on the PDF of the publication itself. Alternatively, if you’re unable to locate the DOI, you can check the DOI lookup services at CrossRef. The simplest way is by entering the title into the search box, and clicking “Search”. Watch the video below to see a CrossRef Search in action!

Why do we use them?

URLs are not generally permanent. They have the potential to move about over time, meaning links that once worked, will potentially stop working. One of the fundamental parts of referencing is that whomever is looking at your work can trace back the information. DOIs allow them to do this. They are persistent and permanent.

How can I locate an article using a DOI?

If you have a DOI, you can locate an article within the CSU collection by following the instructions on CSU Library’s DOI Linking page.

If the item is held in the CSU collection, you’ll be authenticated and granted access. If the link that is generated does not take you to the full text of the item, or if you find yourself hitting a paywall, then the item is likely not held in the CSU Library collection.

For more information about DOIs, visit And as always, if you need a hand locating any of the CSU Library resources you’re after, Contact Us and we’ll be happy to help!