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Succeeding in postgraduate study
Succeeding in postgraduate study

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8.3 Digital object identifiers (DOIs)

If you look at a recently published journal article you will find a digital object identifier or ‘DOI’ reference associated with the article (often on the front page). These typically take the format ‘doi:10.1016/…’. The DOI reference system was adopted as standard across the sector in 2000, as a mechanism to index all journal publications.

You can convert the DOI reference into an active URL by listing ‘’ in front of the number (e.g. 10.1016/ j.sbspro.2016.07.086 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ). This link will then take you to the original journal publication. For open access papers, you can use the direct URL/DOI at the end of the full reference if you are sure it will remain stable and accessible. If you use web links in your references, you will also need to note the date that you accessed each link, so that the reader can see when the resource was last available (in case the link is no longer active or the resource has subsequently been updated, replaced or removed).

Activity 11 Citing and referencing sources

Timing: Allow approximately 20 minutes
  • Retrieve two articles from the search you carried out using Google Scholar (Activity 6).
  • Make a note of the referencing system used (i.e. alphabetic or numeric) and the style in which the in-text citations and final reference list are presented.
  • Based on your previous studies and experience of working with primary literature, determine which referencing system (alphabetic or numeric) is most applicable to your subject area. Locate and read the relevant referencing guide for this system, noting in particular how different types of resources should be referred to in the text and in the final reference list.