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What is a DOI? How do I find one?

DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier, a system used to identify content online. A DOI is a unique number assigned to items, like scholarly articles, on the Web. A DOI looks like this: doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60206-3.

Some citation styles, such as APA, now require DOIs in references to electronic articles.

If you have an article citation without a DOI, you can look up the DOI at Likewise, if you have a DOI but not the citation information, you can look up the citation at

For example, pasting the DOI above into the search box on, retrieves this citation information:

Mechanical supports for acute, severe ankle sprain: a pragmatic, multicentre, randomised controlled trial
The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9663, Pages 575-581
S. Lamb, J. Marsh, J. Hutton, R. Nakash, M. Cooke

Putting the citation information above into the form, retrieves this DOI:


Some articles and journals do not provide DOIs--it is the publisher's preference to include or not to include a DOI. When citing an article without a DOI, check the style manual (APA, AMA, ect.) for guidance.

If you need further assistance, please call the HUB desk at (205) 934-2230 or Ask a Librarian.

Last modified on August 19, 2013@ 3:22 PM by Nicole