Using DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)

What this page will tell you


What DOIs are, and how they can be used to create stable links to online articles.










What is a DOI?


A DOI is a unique, unchanging identifier, designed to facilitate the location and management of digital objects such as electronic journal articles. As such they can be used to create stable links to such articles.


What do they look like and where do I find them?


DOIs are typically found on the top left-hand corner of abstracts, listed in the Table of Contents or printed at the top or bottom of an article. They typically appear as such:


Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1239/jap/1019737983


DOIs are composed of two elements: a prefix and a suffix. The prefix always begins with 10.xxxx/ where x is a unique number assigned to a registrant in the DOI system (usually a publisher). For example 10.1016 refers to Elsevier. The suffix specifies the individual item or document.


How do I use DOIs?


To convert a DOI into a web link, simply append it to the URL of a “DOI resolver”, such as :


For example, appending the DOI given above gives the link:


Make sure you don’t leave any spaces when copying and pasting DOIs as these will be interpreted as part of the number and the link will not work.


Can I look up a DOI if I have the citation?


CrossRef DOI Lookup allows you to enter a citation and find the corresponding DOI, providing the publisher has registered one. Use the “Automatic parsing of a formatted reference” section.


Note, however, that the DOI it returns might direct you to an e-journal provider that the LSE does not subscribe to.


An alternative, which seems to be more reliable, but which requires you to register first, is available to LSE users at CrossRef SimpleTextQuery.


Which e-journals use DOIs?


The majority of electronic journals now use DOIs. However, it depends on both the journal publisher and the e-journal provider, so you will need to check for each journal article you wish to link to.


The following providers do not use DOIs:


    • JSTOR


    • Westlaw


    • Lexis Library


Even if you see a DOI on a JSTOR article, it will point you to the same paper from a different provider, which you may not be able to access.


What should I do if I have any problems?


Occasionally the DOI will fail to resolve, or else directs you to an e-journal provider that LSE does not subscribe to. In such cases refer to Creating stable URLs for each e-journal provider to find an alternative approach.


If you have further problems, please contact us at