APA: Citing Databases, URL’s, and DOI’s

Girl at computer KUWC

© Jupiter Images 2013

By Melody Pickle

One question we see in the KUWC is “Do I include the Database name in my citation?”  Well, as with most aspects of APA, there is not a one size fits all answer.  However, the easy and accurate most of the time answer is “No, do not include the database name.”

Typically, students are accessing resources from a Library database, and they want to include a name such as Academic Search Premier as part of their citation. However, the only time a database name is included is when the database on which the article was found is the only database on which that article exists.  Since most articles and resources are available from a variety of databases and places, it would be very unusual to name the database where the article what found by the writer. (See this APA Style Blog post for more details.)

Since one main goal of the Reference list citations is to allow our readers to find and access these resources should they so desire, the Reference list needs to include the most direct route to the resource (not just how we accessed it).

APA Format and Citation Style diagram

For a more complete explanation of when to use a DOI and when to use a URL (or cite a database) see this Flowchart located on the APA Style Blog: DOI URL Flow Chart .pdf.

As with all aspects of APA, writers must use both APA guidelines and their own judgment when determining the best way to cite resources.

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