Answered By: Dennis Johnson, CJ, LE, & Paralegal Librarian
Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018     Views: 21782

Citations to articles, chapters, books, and other electronic information from library databases should include electronic access information. APA outlines the guidelines below, but there are caveats you should know about, like using permanent links to the articles instead, so read beyond the guidelines:

  1. DOI
    • First and foremost, APA says, if there is a DOI (digital object identifier) number, then include that. 
    • Begin the DOI number with (according to the latest publication of the APA Style Guide to Electronic Resources).
    • Do NOT include a URL, a permalink, the name of the database, or the URL of the database or of the publisher of the source if you have a DOI.
  2. Publisher URL or Permalink
    • If there is no DOI number, APA prefers that the next thing to do is provide the web page address (URL) of the source's publisher (see the Publication Manual, section 6.31 on Electronic Sources and Locator Information).
      • This does not mean the URL of the database or the database's publisher, with the only exception being if the database publisher is the only publisher of the source.
      • This means you will usually have to Google the name of the publisher and provide the URL of its homepage.
    • Another acceptable method is to end the citation with the database's permanent link-- known as the "permalink" -- for the journal article.  Please see the "Exception to the Rules" section below.
      • This does not mean the URL that appears in the address line when viewing the article in the library database.
      • This means that you will click on the Permalink icon and copy and paste the URL provided by the database in the access element of your citation.  (Note: OVID permalinks are called "Jumpstarts")
    • You have the option of using the publisher URL or the database permanent link (permalink) in the access segment of the citation.  Please consult with your instructor to verify their preference.

Visit the Citing Articles page of the APA Guide for examples. See below and notice the tabs to click through.

Exception to the rules:

Many colleges, universities, and schools have modified the above information because APA's  guidelines are intended to be used by those publishing for a national/international audience; in those cases, not everyone has access to the databases used in the research. In the student/instructor scenario, however, all readers of a paper will have access to the school-provided databases, thus the guidelines above are sometimes disregarded for the following:

  1. Permanent URL to the source in the database
  2. Database Name and Accession Number
    • In the case of student papers, these may be preferred because both instructor and student maintain easy, direct, and immediate access to the source(s) in question.
    • For non-student papers that will really be published, this method is not allowed.

Rasmussen allows the above exception! The NoodleTools citation software neatly allows you to choose any of the above guidelines.

So, what do YOU do for YOUR classes at Rasmussen?

  1. Ask your instructor which method they prefer. If they have no preference, pick the method you prefer.
  2. Remember the big picture...APA's goal is to give the reader enough information about the source in the reference so that they can readily and easily find it, get it, and read it. Whatever you do, have you done that?


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