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Citing Sources in the Digital Age

APA style seemed fairly straightforward when you were just citing books and journal articles. But with the advancement of digital media, there’s a score of new sources that don’t necessarily fit into the procedures you’ve grown accustomed to using. Here’s a quick primer on how to cite two new media sources.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Have you noticed a long string of numbers and letters at the end of citations recently and wondered what that was? A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique link that identifies content and its location on the Internet. A DOI address will provide information over time as to where to find a digital object, making it easier and more convenient to locate digital information (while URLs may change, DOI addresses will not). When journal articles are published now, they are assigned a DOI address – a persistent link that will always lead investigators to the same piece of digital information. To locate an article using a DOI address, simply append the DOI string with http://dx.doi.org/ (and then enter the numeric string immediately following).

When making a reference list, simply add DOI, followed by a colon, the DOI number string, and put the date retrieved in parenthesis. Close this phrase with a period. Here’s an example:

Author name. (Year). Article name. Journal Title, page numbers. doi: XX.XXX/XXXXXXXXXX

Citing E-books

With the advent of e-readers, many people are getting their information in hi-tech ways. It isn’t as simple as citing a page number in a print product. When formulating your reference list, make sure you know the type of e-book version you use (Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle DX are two popular kinds). Instead of publisher information, include the book’s DOI address or the site where you downloaded the book originally. Here’s an example:

Author name. (Year). Title [Adobe Digital Editions version]. doi: XX.XXX/XXXXXXXXXX

In-text citations get a bit more difficult because e-books often lack page numbers, and those that have page numbers are usually only the same for people using the same device you are using. To cite in text, follow APA’s rules for using direct quotations in materials without pagination. Give the reader the major sections, such as chapter, section, and paragraph number in lieu of a true page number.

More questions on how to cite digital sources? Check out www.apastyle.org.

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