What is a DOI: How to Find and Use It in Academic Writing?

What is a DOI

A recent addition to the digital address of online books, journals, and other documents is the DOI, or digital object identifier. It is now more crucial than ever in academic writing because it makes sure that accurate and trustworthy citation guidelines are followed, but not every student is familiar with the DOI and its applications.

So “What are DOI and its uses in academic writing?” is a common question posed by students during their research projects. Since they also frequently come across this element while conducting some research or writing any research paper, many students ask, “What actually is DOI?” The significance of DOIs in academic writing has grown since they support precise and uniform citation standards in academic writing.

So today, in this article, we’ll explain this term’s definitions and how it’s used in different formatting styles. Here we’ve covered the fundamentals and applications of DOI, how to locate DOI, and how to create references that incorporate DOI in a variety of citation formats.

Why Are DOIs Important for Academic Writing?

Since DOIs are more permanent than URLs, they are important for academic citation since they guarantee that your reader will be able to find the source with accuracy. Ebooks and journal articles are frequently available across a variety of websites and databases. An article’s hosted page URL may change or disappear over time, but a DOI is always connected to the particular document. 

DOI Definition 

A digital document’s unique identification is called the DOI.

A digital object identifier, or DOI, is a special string that is allocated to books, papers, and other works that are available online, like journals and never changes. Because DOIs facilitate the retrieval of works, citation styles such as APA and MLA encourage their use in citations. 

For example,

  • https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.12487 
  • https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02626667.2018.1560449
  • doi:10.1080/02626667.2018.1560449 
  • https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.11.014 

How Do DOIs Appear?

Every DOI begins with the digit 10, then a period, Here are the examples;

  • 10.1111/dome.12082

The DOIs should be formatted as URLs in APA 7, with https://doi.org/ coming before the number. For example

  • The DOI: 10.1111/dome.12082

DOIs Function in Academic Writing

A detection code for articles published in books, journals, papers, or other literary works is called a DOI. This code was created in 2000 and published by the International DOI Foundation, called IDF. But each article’s DIO is produced by a registration organization crossref. 

It is made up of an alphanumeric sequence with a prefix of four or more numbers, beginning with 10. These numbers are followed by a slash (/), and the suffix that appears next is provided by the publisher. A DOI’s main function is to provide a reliable and consistent link for locating and utilising different kinds of online academic and non-academic materials. Another name for it is a permalink, but there is no requirement.

A digital object, such as a book, journal, article, or report, is issued a unique alphanumeric identifier called a “Digital Object identifier DOI,” which makes it permanent and dependable to find and access the source online. It is also known by the term permalink. These components are used for a range of online academic and non-academic sources. Because of this, DOIs should be included in referencing according to MLA, APA, and other academic formatting guidelines.

The purpose of the DOI is to provide a persistent, unique identifier for every electronic or digital thing. A DOI number can be allocated to any digital object, such as;

  • research reports 
  • papers in scholarly journals 
  • official reports
  • books
  • data sets 
  • conference papers 
  • code and media

Use for the citation record

At the moment, the primary use of DOI is to list and track citations in articles. Citations were formerly utilized with Google Scholar. Registering and keeping track of article citations is currently the most obvious purpose for a DOI. Citations were previously entered using Google Scholar, and the title of the cited publication was found in the published work’s reference section.

Getting more visibility

Making their work accessible to a wider audience is undoubtedly a fundamental problem for all journal authors. The information from a journal that has used a DOI is then recorded in several prestigious online databases. As a result, search engines enable a broader audience to view the articles. 

This increase in visibility is one of the factors used to evaluate the journal’s position. As a result, DIOs for published papers are always awarded to distinguished publications. 

Making it easier for papers with indexes to be accepted

Numerous indexes, including the ISI, PubMed, Scopus, DOAJ, ScienceGate, and others, always ask whether or not suggested journals use DOIs in their first evaluation forms. These indexes do not require the DOI. On the other hand, it has been discovered that journals using DOIs receive far more submissions than those without them.

Are URLs and DOIs the Same?

They are not the same, though. They both have different uses, even though they are both used to find digital content. Digital things are given unique alphanumeric sequences called DOIs, which serve as a durable identifier that doesn’t change even if the object’s location does. However, URLs are dynamic web addresses that are subject to change. When it comes to stability and persistence, DOIs outperform URLs.

By Whom are DOIs Assigned?

The International DOI Foundation operates overseas and controls the generation of DOIs. These International DOI Foundation registration agencies offer services and help with DOI number registration. Usually, they are concentrated on particular regions or categories of information. For film and television content, for instance, EIDR offers DOI numbers.

One of the International DOI Foundation’s registration agencies is crossref, It gives academic research articles DOIs. Books, conference proceedings, and journal articles are some examples of these publications. 

How to Locate a DOI in Academic Writing?

When you access a journal article on a database, the DOI is typically easily readable.

This component is typically seen in the upper portion of the page in journal articles, close to the title, author’s name, and additional publication information. The DOI number is typically given at the bottom of each page or cover page when downloading journal article PDFs from an academic database. 

  • Examine the document

The paper itself should be your first stop when looking for a DOI. The DOI is typically included somewhere on the article’s first page by publishers. A DOI is typically located towards the top of the page. It is written next to the publication details, which include the article’s title and the author’s name. The DOI is given at the bottom of each page, including the cover page, if you download a PDF file or an online journal from any academic database.

  • Header

Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 71, No. 3, 2015, pp. 441-452

doi: 10.1111/josi.12122 

  • Footer

DOI: 10.111/dome.12082

Digest of Middle East Student – Volume 25, Number 1 – Pages 36-51

© 2016 Policy Studies Organisation. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

  • Examine the article’s details

Article-related information can be found in library databases. If an article has a DOI, it could be mentioned in the article’s details. These article information sections go by differentt names in different databases. 

To view more details about the article, you might need to click on the article title, or they might be titled Detailed Record Abstract, or Abstract details, if the ODI isn’t visible on the article, check the database page to see whether it is mentioned elsewhere. 

  • Look up for Crossref

You can use the Crossred website to find a DOI. One of the companies that assigns DOIs is Crossref, which specialises in research articles. You can fairly presume that an article doesn’t have a DOI if Crossred doesn’t have one.

The steps to locate the DOI are crossref are as follows;

  • Go to the Crossref website
  • Search for metadata box and open it
  • Copy and paste the necessary data
  • Look up the DOI
  • Then DOI will pop up on the screen

What Should You Do If You Are Unable to Find DOI?

If locating the DOI number proves to be challenging, using Cross ref is an additional approach. You can look up the DOI by copying and pasting the relevant data into the “search metadata” box. If it’s missing, the article probably doesn’t have one. It is okay in some cases to provide a URL as a substitute reference. 

DOI Use in APA Formatting Style

Whenever possible, it is advised to include a DOI in accordance to APA criteria. Most of the academic books and journal articles have a DOI issued to them. See the copyright page of the book or the article’s initial page to identify the elements. The identification may be left out of the APA citation if it cannot be located. According to the APA rules’7th edition, DOIs must be formatted as URLs, beginning with “https;//doi.org/” and then the identifier itself. 

Examples of APA citations with DOI

This is the format to follow;

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. https://doi.org/10.0000/0000


  1. Fardouly, J., & Vartanian, L. R. (2016). Social media and body image concerns: Current research and future directions. Current Opinion in Psychology, 9, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.09.005 
  2. Smith, J. D., & Johnson, A. B. (2022). The impact of climate change on biodiversity. Environmental Science Journal, 15(3), 234-248. 


  1. Sustersic, M., Gauchet, A., Foote, A., & Bosson, J.-L. (2016). How best to use and evaluate Patient Information Leaflets given during a consultation: a systematic review of literature reviews. Health Expectations, 20(4), 531–542. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.12487 

DOI Use in MLA Formatting Style

If a source’s DOI is available in MLA format, it is recommended to include it in the citation. View an example of the same article with this element to learn how to cite DOI is MLA. 

The modern language association style is used by academic writing papers in English Language and Literature, comparative literature, cultural studies, foreign languages, and other humanities fields to reference and cite their work. The MLA style differs greatly from APA or MLA styles. Instead of placing a date below the author’s name in an in-text citation, they have a page number like adams 15. If the author is mentioned in the text, on the other hand, the citation for that work just includes the page number.

It is preferable to use a DOI or URL in references, even though MLA does not require it. Particularly if the journal or the lecturer suggests it

Examples of MLA citations with DOI

This is the format to follow;

Author LastName, FirstName, and FirstName LastName. “Article Title.” Journal Name, vol. #, no. #, date, pp. ##-##. Name of Database, doi: 10.0000/000000000.


  1. Smith, John. “The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity.” Environmental Science Journal, vol. 15, no. 3, 2022, pp. 234-248. Doi: 10.1080/1678954320. 
  2. G, Marcela Ot’alora, et al. “3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine-Assisted Psychotherapy for Treatment of Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Phase 2 Controlled Trial.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, vol. 32, no. 12, Dec. 2018, pp. 1295–1307, doi: 10.1077/02697346611934806297. 

DOI Use in Chicago Formatting Style

When available, DOIs are frequently used in Chicago style. To include the identifier in a citation, you should place it at the end of your reference; the preferred formatting style is https;//doi.org/10.1090/128934759

Examples of Chicago citations with DOI

  1. Smith, John. “The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity.” Environmental Science Journal 15, no. 3 (2022): 234-248. https://doi.org/10.1080/1234567890
  2. Nair, Lakshmi S. and Cato T. Laurencin. “Biodegradable polymers as biomaterials.” Progress in polymer science 32, no. 8-9 (2007): 762-798. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.progpolymsci.2007.05.017

When Is It Okay to Use a DOI Rather Than a URL?

When a DOI is available for the source, always use it first. If this is a DOI given, don’t rely just on the websites. If there isn’t a DOI for the resources, you should still mention the URL in your citation. 

How Should an Article with DOI Be Cited?

A DOI number is the reference entry but has no effect on the article’s in-text citation. The following reference template would be used for an article that has a DOI;

  • Author, A. (Year). Title of the article in sentence case. Title of the Journal in Title Case and Italics, Volume number in italics (Issue), xxx-xxx. https://doi.org/22343546567

Important Things to Know About DOIs

Regarding DOIs, there are a few key points to be aware of;

    • Not every source or article has a DOI.
    • DOIs and the article’s status as subject to peer review are unrelated.
    • Articles with and without peer review are both eligible for DOIs.
    • It is necessary to provide a DOI for any work that has one, whether it is used in print or online.
    • Do not add a DOI or URL in the citation if the print work is not online.
    • Include only the DOI when citing a work that includes both a URL and a DOI.
  • Since these works are generally available, do not provide a URL or database information in the references for works without DOIs from academic databases.

Wrapping up

You should have a comprehensive understanding of what DOI is and how it can be used in academic writing based on the whole discussion. To incorporate DOIs into your academic work, adhere to the criteria for various citation formats. But don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and use our assignment and dissertations assistance services if you need assistance creating a citation that includes DOI or if you have any questions about the DOI application

We have been helping students with a variety of assignments and dissertations. Just contact us to get our help and services. Our academic writers will handle all of your requests. 

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