Friday, 13 July 2018

Finding DOI numbers

While I have written before about Document Object Identifier (DOI) numbers here, here, here and here, I recently submitted an article to a journal, to find that I needed to supply DOI numbers for all the journal articles that I cited. Ooops: I hadn't recorded them.

DOIs make it much easier for everyone to find articles, so it is quite logical that the referencing styles are requesting DOIs for e-journal articles.

So I thought that this can't be that hard, and I went looking. Argh! Nightmare! I was unable to find DOIs for almost everything I had cited <waily, waily>.

Sigh. I headed over to Cross-Ref, as they are supposed to be the keepers of all things DOI-oriented, but it looked like the info I wanted was hidden behind a paywall of hard-to-determine proportions. I tried in their guest area ( but was unable to find any information on any of the journal articles I had included.

Then - why didn't I think before! - I went off to check out APAStyleBlog. Of course, they had the goods. If we will be checking fewer than 5,000 references a month, there is a free Cross-Ref account. All we need to do is to go to and register our email address. Then we simply wait for a confirmation email to arrive, confirm our email, then we can start searching.

Steps for use:
  • Ensure we re-enter our email address again for each new search (auto-fill will really help us here!)
  • Then paste in our APA-referenced citation (and double-check it before pasting, including page range)
  • Tick "List all possible DOIs per reference"
  • Click Submit
  • If there is a result, it will appear on the Simple Text Query results page, at a screen location higher than the text entry field we pasted our reference into
  • Record the DOI that appears (!)
  • Click the "Reset" button to return to the Simple Text Query entry page
  • Rinse, repeat.
I hope that helps everyone who has run into the tightening requirements for APA 6th Edition: we all need to remember that we are required to provide a URL for where we got the document from: a DOI, or a database URL.

Which brings me to an interesting point. What happens if we - as I often do - have asked the library team to provide me with a journal article? I don't get a database URL in that case, which leaves me unable to provide a URL. If there is a DOI, I will use that, but I don't imagine that older articles will have DOIs allocated to them.

An interesting conundrum that will need solving!


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