Monday, 30 October 2017

Database links versus DOI numbers

The internet has opened up access to a huge number of academic papers. So we have had to work out a system of how to flag where we got things from. Some of us list individual database identifier links after our APA references, such as:
Kirk, A. K., & Brown, D. F. (2003). Employee assistance programs: A review of the management of stress and wellbeing through workplace counselling and consulting. Australian psychologist, 38(2), 138-143. http://llcp.nmit.ac.nz:2383/ehost/detail/detail?vid=14&sid=df83b3e3-9c12-48b2-9949-a5c73c127edd%40sessionmgr120&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=13936906&db=anh
Unfortunately, this type of link is not universal: it is unique to each individual user's logon. Clicking this takes us to that institution's paywall, not to the paper, so is pointless. It does not provide us with a link back to the actual source.

But there is a better, permanent link. DOI - digital object identifier - numbers are a universal document identifier that is not restricted to a single database or publisher. It is like the Dewey decimal system for the internet, and using a DOI number will allow me to find any document, in any database. So instead of using a non-unique link, we can use DOI.

To improve linking systems, APA 6th edition has made a few changes. One key change is improving how we list DOI numbers. Once we would have listed the following article as:
Kirk, A. K., & Brown, D. F. (2003). Employee assistance programs: A review of the management of stress and wellbeing through workplace counselling and consulting. Australian psychologist, 38(2), 138-143. doi:10.1080/00050060310001707137
But now we would now list this using the https site, with a live DOI link, as:
Kirk, A. K., & Brown, D. F. (2003). Employee assistance programs: A review of the management of stress and wellbeing through workplace counselling and consulting. Australian psychologist, 38(2), 138-143. https://doi.org/10.1080/00050060310001707137
We no longer need a 'retrieved' or a date. The idea is that anyone wanting to view this item can simply click straight through to the paper from our bibliography.

So easy.


Sam

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