CrossRef and DOI Numbers

Academic News & Updates
APA Editing

One of the most crucial elements of academic research is properly citing sources. When it comes to APA, this means that all sources listed in the reference list are used in the text, and vice versa, all sources used in the text are listed in the reference list. However, in addition to ensuring that the writer has credited all of the sources used, there are other necessary elements that must be included in the reference list entries for the source information to be complete. Of significance is including proper retrieval information for all online sources. Such information is either a doi number or a retrieval URL for the source, if it is not registered with a doi number. For clarification, doi stands for digital object identifier; most researchers register their articles with this number so that other researchers can easily find and access the articles.

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The most common agency that registers articles with doi numbers is CrossRef. The CrossRef database,, is a great source for researchers to find articles on their topic or to find missing reference information for their sources. For example, if a researcher forgets to include the retrieval information of online sources while conducting and recording research, then he or she can search the CrossRef database for that information. To search the database, simply copy and paste the title of the article into the “Search Metadata” feature on the homepage of CrossRef. If the article is registered with a doi number, it will appear within the first few search results. The database also identifies the author name(s) date, and volume and page numbers, in addition to the doi number.

While searching for missing doi numbers in CrossRef, there are two formats that may appear with the article: (a) doi:10.1037/rmh0000008, or (b) Either format is acceptable to use in the reference list; however, the http:// link is easier for other researchers copy and paste/search, so include this form when possible. In addition, make sure not to mix these two formats together, such as doi:, because this is not a correct format.

The CrossRef database is a great resource to use when conducting research and when polishing up the reference list. Make sure to use this free and convenient database to fill in missing retrieval information for online sources, which will help ensure your reference list meets all APA requirements for publication.