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Library Guides

Dealing with an Absent DOI

The Scenario

You have found the perfect article.   

It has no DOI.

How do you proceed?

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Note: The APA has also released its own decision chart for DOIs.  See this link:

APA Blog's DOI Decision Chart

DOI Location

Where can I find DOIs?

Library Guide

If the library database does not have the DOI, you may be able to locate an article's DOI here:

http://www.crossref.org/guestquery/

Keep in mind that many older articles will not have DOIs.

Dealing with an Absent DOI

Citing Electronic Articles Using APA 6th Edition:

 Screenshot of a citation with DOI listed.

Include the DOI in your references, if available.  Most databases include them.


What do I do if the DOI is absent?

The below boxes outline three alternatives that we are aware of that are acceptable at Capella. 

Disclaimers:

  • Check with your instructor beforehand to determine which solution he or she prefers.
  • Be consistent: use the same solution throughout a paper.
  • Be prepared to switch to a different solution on the comprehensive examination and the dissertation.

Option 1

Option 1:

APA six says, on page 191, "If no DOI has been assigned to the content, provide the homepage URL of the Journal or of the book or report publisher."

Screenshot of citation which has the homepage URL of the journal rather than DOI.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Option 1:

  • Best practice for APA 6th. This is the preferred option for publication. If you ever plan to publish outside of Capella, you may want to start practicing this now.
  • Some journal websites are difficult to find or nonexistant. This route poses a challenge if the journal is short or a common phrase, like the journal called Social Work. It will be difficult to weed out the journal's homepage from the thousands of other Social Work websites, even by adding the word "journal."  
  • It may misdirect your fellow learners. It may be hard for your fellow learners to understand that you didn't actually purchase the article directly. (You found it in the Capella University Library, per se.) 
  • Link Rot. Open web links often break quickly, a phenomenon known as "Link rot." One study discovered that the average life of an Internet link is 44 days. Journal websites may be especially susceptible to link rot, since their ownership frequently changes hands between publishers and distributors.

 

    Option 2

    Option 2:

    Use the name of the database as the retrieval statement. This was the preferred method in the previous version of APA, the 5th edition. This method was also reviewed and recommended for courseroom use by the APA 6th launch committee and other cross-functional academic committees at Capella.  Note: This is for courseroom purposes, NOT dissertation purposes.

    Screenshot of citation with the database instead of DOI (i.e. Retrieved from PsycINFO Database).

    Strengths and Weaknesses of Option 2:

    • Learners in the courseroom will know exactly where to go to find the article.
    • This is not a best practice of the wider professional or scholarly world, because anyone reading your paper from outside of the university may not have access to the same database.

    Important Note: Make sure that you verify the name of the database collection and do not use the name of the company. (You want to use the name that you clicked on from the Databases A-Z list.)

    For instance, Ebscohost and ProQuest are meaningless for this purpose, since the library could license the same collection (e.g. PsycINFO) through many different vendors.

    This option is not APA-approved, but it is the most efficient for courseroom navigation. Do not use this approach for your dissertation or dissertation research plan.

    Option 3

    Option 3:

    Use the persistent link from the database.  Note: This is for courseroom purposes, NOT dissertation purposes.

    Screenshot of citation with persistent link rather than DOI.

    Strengths and Weaknesses of Option 3:

    • It takes Capella learners and instructors in your courseroom straight to the article.
    • Persistent links can be hard to find! They are not usually the link at the top of the page. (See this guide to learn more about persistent article links.)
    • It's long and ugly, and probably would never be accepted outside of Capella.

    Important Always defer to your instructor's preferences!  If in doubt, reach out to clarify their expectations.  This option is not APA-approved, but it is the most efficient for courseroom navigation.  Do not use this approach for your dissertation or dissertation research plan.