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MLA Citation Guide (9th Edition): Permalinks, URLs, & DOIs!

Location Elements

The MLA 9th Edition requires a Location Element for all source types (e.g., a page number if you are citing information from a book or the name of the museum that you saw a piece of art from). The Location Element is the last part of your citation unless you are including an "Accessed on" date. 

Many times, we are accessing information from electronic sources such as websites or articles from the library's databases. In this case, there are a few different ways to list the location element. You will list one of the following: 

1). DOI - Digital Object Identifier (if available, use this)

2). Permalink (if there is no DOI listed)

3). URL (If there is neither a DOI nor a Permalink)


A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (The International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when an article is published and made available electronically. 

All DOI numbers begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash. The prefix is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to organizations; the suffix is assigned by the publisher and was designed to be flexible with publisher identification standards. 

The DOI is typically located on the first page of the electronic journal article, near the copyright notice. The DOI can also be found on the database landing page of the article by clicking on the article's title from the results page (see example below). 

 

Some articles do not have DOIs. In this case, you will use a Permalink. A Permalink is a persistent URL that will return the user to the same article every time. A permalink will allow students, faculty, and staff affiliated with Phillips Academy to gain free access to the article--users may be prompted to login for full access. W

To retrieve the persistent URL (or Permalink) you will: 

  1. Conduct your search.
  2. In the list of search results, click on the title of an article.
  3. Look for a "Share" or "Permalink" button (see image below).
  4. Click it and follow prompts to generate the Permalink.
  5. Copy the Permalink to paste or bookmark.

‚ÄčNote -  The Permalink may be located in different places in different databases. Ask your librarian for help if you don't know where to look. 

 

When you are doing research on the web, you may not have a DOI or a Permalink option for many sources. You will have very little choice but to use a URL as your location element. These URLs are called dynamic URLs. A dynamic URL means that the URL was created at the time you visited that particular website. Because websites are updated often, the URL you save today may not work tomorrow. This is why DOIs and Permalinks are preferable. 

  • If you use a URL as your location element, copy it directly from the address bar at the top of the web page. Any typo in the URL will result in an error message. 
  • For general websites, copy and paste from your browser, some will include the www. and some will not. Either is acceptable.
  • Full URLs are recommended but optional especially for long URLs that are three or more lines long.
  • You can shorten URLs to the general site if it is excessively long.
  • Don’t use shortening services such as bit.ly.