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Referencing and Citation Management: DOIs

A guide to referencing, referencing styles and citation management tools for UON students and researchers

What are DOIs and Why are they needed for referencing?


Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are special strings of alphanumeric characters that form a persistent link to individual publications. They are issued at the time of publication, much like an ISBN or a serial number. DOIs can be attached to a number of different publications, including journal articles, books and chapters, conference papers, and so on.

A number of referencing styles (including APA, Harvard, Chicago, and Vancouver) require that you include DOIs for publications where they have been assigned. This guarantees that others will be able to access your listed references, as DOIs offer persistence and permanence that standard URLs (links) do not.

How can I find if my publication has a DOI?


DOIs can usually be found:


1) On the abstract/summary page for the publication:

Journal abstract showing DOI

Some DOIs are listed as the full link (shown above), others will be included as a part of the source information (along with the journal name, etc).


2) On the PDF of the publication itself:

Journal article showing DOI

Sometimes DOIs will be on the cover sheet, other times they will be located towards the top or the bottom of the first page of the publication (as shown above).

Can't find the DOI for your publication?


Not all publications have a DOI, and not all databases list DOIs where available.

If you are unable to locate a DOI for your publication, you can check the free DOI lookup services at Crossref which works for all DOIs (not just journal articles).

Metadata search is the easiest way to use Crossref, and can be done by simply entering your title into the search box on the main page and hitting Enter.

Crossref metadata search

The results will then be displayed in a screen similar to the one below:

Crossref results screen


Note that using this search will also provide a number of results that are similar to the publication that you're searching for, so always check that you have the correct publication.

If you are still unable to find a DOI, end the reference as you would normally (according to your required referencing style) for a resource without a DOI.

How can I use a DOI?

If you have a DOI, you can go to and type or paste it into the search box (highlighted in red above).ace

This will ‘resolve’ the DOI and take you to the publisher’s site/database where you may be able to download the full text, and/or export the citation into citation management software.sp

Note that some DOIs may not ‘resolve’ due to problems with publisher databases, and/or the Library may not have subscription access directly via the publisher. Where this is the case, see our PDF guide to finding articles:

Help and Information