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September 17, 2009

DOIs and URLs: Special Focus Next Week

AnneG The sixth edition of the Publication Manual and its ancillary books have now been off press for several months. One of our goals in the revision of the manual was to simplify reference style; for example, retrieval dates are no longer required for most sources, and digital object identifiers (DOIs), when available, replace uniform resource locators (URLs) as persistent and reliable links to locate sources. However, the latter recommendation has led readers to pose several complex and challenging questions about the use of DOIs and URLs in electronic references that warrant further discussion and clarification.

We are at a crossroads in the publishing industry. Evolving web-based technological innovations have led to varying recommendations from publishers on which elements to include in an online reference citation. For example, according to the 15th edition of the  Chicago Manual of Style, an online reference with a DOI includes both DOI and URL:

James W. Friedman and Claudio Mezzetti, “Learning in Games by Random 
Sampling," Journal of Economic Theory 98, no. 1 (May 2001),
doi:10.1006/jeth.2000.2694, http://www.idealibrary.com/links/doi

The citation to a web document according to the seventh edition of the  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers should include a URL only “when the reader probably cannot locate the source without it or when your instructor requires it.” The reference with a URL looks like this:

Eaves, Morris, Robert Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, eds. The William 
Blake Archive
. Lib. of Cong., 28 Sept. 2007. Web. 20 Nov. 2007.

Another variation can be found in the second edition of the Columbia Guide to Online Publishing, which requires information on CrossRef as the source for the DOI, another format for the DOI, and an exact retrieval date:

International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium. “Initial 
Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome.” Nature:
International Weekly Journal of Science
409 (2001): 860–921.
Crossref.org. http://crossref.org (Links: For Researchers
/DOI Resolver/). DOI:10.1038/35057062 (25 Aug 2006).

With retrievability the shared goal, these three manuals demonstrate three different methods for citing online resources. So, when and how do we include DOIs and URLs in APA Style references? Next week, we will have several blog posts that focus on these important and evolving topics in an effort to clarify the rules. Please join us!


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For seventh edition guidelines, visit the seventh edition APA Style blog.

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