Understanding the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in APA Style 7th Edition References


The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system was developed by international publishers as a way to identify a specific article within the digital databases (APA, 2019). “A DOI, or digital objective identifer, is a unique alphanumeric string that identifies content and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet” (APA Style, p. 298).




To search for an articles DOI number CrossRef.org can be used. CrossRef (APA, 2019).

When formatting the reference list, if the article has a DOI number it must be included (APA, 2019).

Using Acceptable Scholarly Literature

When using the academic databases within the online library, the goal is to search for current peer-reviewed journals, also known as a scholarly periodical, to help the student gain a deeper understand of the problem. Scholarly journal articles are peer-reviewed and contain detail reports, original research, or experiment. When writing academic papers, scholarly journals are the main source of information to frame and support the writers work. Giving credit to the primary source of information upon which the writer uses in their work is acknowledging the scholars and researchers whose work is the foundation of new knowledge. Giving credit to the source upon which the writers thoughts were inspired adds credibility and is a fundamental requirement of academic writing.

When locating a peer-reviewed journal article within the academic databases of the online library, the published article might include the DOI. Sometimes articles are published and later, a DOI is assigned to this specific article. If the article does not have a DOI showing, this does not mean that one has not been issued.


Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). (2019).

American Psychological Association.

About the Author

Mark Bond

Dr. Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 33 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state, and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with Summa Cum Laude honors. Mark has a doctoral degree in education (EdD) with a concentration in college teaching and learning.  Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.