DOI codes and permalinks: a tale of two standards

Back in the day, there were different folks trying to solve the same problem: how to make things you find online easily and reliably retrievable despite the people hosting those things regularly giving web pages and other content descriptive names based on where they were within their websites and then wanting to reorganise said websites and change the links to those pages every once in a while.

Two different solutions were proposed and became popular independently: the digital object identifier scheme and permalinks.


The word permalink is a contraction of “permanent link”.  Permalinks are web addresses that identify a document or webpage that is expected to work for as long as the thing it links to remains available on the web.

Often eresource records will clearly label the permalink for a journal article.  In general, permalinks are short and end with a long number or other code that serves as a unique ID for the webpage or document.  For example, the permalink for this blog post is

Digital object identifiers (DOIs)

The Digital Object Identifier (doi) scheme invited people publishing documents to the web to obtain a doi code (these typically begin 10.1…).  These could be copied and pasted into the online doi resolver to find the original article.  Later, people started making doi codes into permalinks that could be clicked on to visit the thing they represented.  Any doi code can be made into a working permalink by adding to the start of the doi code (with no spaces).

These days, doi codes can be turned into just one type of permalink.

DOIs, permalinks and APA (6th ed.) referencing

For some reason (not a logical one, as far as I can tell), APA 6th ed. insists that we should all give the doi link wherever a doi is available in references (in the reference list).  Otherwise, we are allowed to use another form of permalink.

Hopefully, this clears up some confusion about these relics from the earlier days of the web.  If you have any questions, please chat to us online and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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APA (6th ed.) referencing bite-sized: which date?

calendarBooks and ebook publishers, in particular, seem to enjoy listing long lists of dates on the back of the title page in order to confuse anyone trying to reference the (e)book.  This blog post explains how to pick the right date for referencing (using any referencing system, not just APA).

Dates to use

The date you want is the one marked as “publication date” or “this edition published on” date on the back of the title page.  On some first edition books, the publication date is listed as “first published in year“.

If no publication date is given, use the most recent copyright date listed.

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APA (6th ed.) referencing bite-sized: unhelpful numbers of authors

Lego audienceAs we all know, the correct number of authors for any work is one.  This makes it really simple to cite and reference, saving us time and therefore is objectively the best number.  Authors are however gregarious folk who often like to write articles, books and other works collaboratively with no thought for how much this will complicate your attempts at referencing.  For other sources, no author can be identified.  This is where life gets fun.

This post explains what to do when faced with an unhelpful number of authors in APA (6th ed.) referencing.

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APA (6th ed.) referencing bite-sized: unfamiliar author names

The word "strange" etched onto rockMost author names are capitalised.  However, some names begin with lowercase prefixes like de, d’, van or von, and many social media usernames begin with a lowercase letter or are entirely in lowercase. In such cases, include the name in both the citation and the reference list in the same way the author has presented it in their work, unless the name begins a sentence.

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APA (6th ed.) referencing bite-sized: reference lists made simple

Post-it notes stuck all over a laptop screenAssuming you have been sensibly listing links for all the articles, ebooks and other online information sources you have used as you went, and have grouped everything as best you can by resource type (books, ebooks, journal articles, etc.), you will be well set up to build your reference list.  Here’s a quick guide to painlessly turning your skeleton reference list into a fully formatted one in three easy steps.

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APA (6th ed.) referencing bite-sized: citing less common things

Following on from my first post introducing citation, I just wanted to cover a couple of variants that commonly cause confusion – sources written by ‘corporate’ authors, sources with no author, and sources with no publication date.

Corporate authors

Companies, government departments and other organisations write reports and publish them with themselves as author.  Treat such ‘corporate authors’ as for individual authors.  For example:

Shell (2005, p. 10) gives the gross profit margin for Q1 2004 as…


Shell’s gross profit margin for Q1 (2004) was … (Shell, 2005, p. 10).


Citations for sources with no publication date

If you have a copyright date for a source but no publication date, use the copyright date instead.

If no date is given, which is common on websites, put n.d. (for “no date”) instead of a date, for example:

“Angel therapies” (n.d.) describes a complementary therapy…


Various complementary therapies exist, including angel therapy (“Angel therapies”, n.d.)…


Citations for sources with no author

Use the first (typically up to four) words of the title instead of the author’s name.  If the source is a book or ebook, give the title in italics; for webpages, reports and other materials, use “double quotation marks” instead.

For a website or other source without page numbers

“Life amidst adversity” (2020) debates…


…after lockdown ends (“Life amidst adversity”, 2020).

For books and ebooks

Viral dreams (2020) is a collection of dystopian short stories…


…Lovecraftian horror combined with contemporary events (Viral dreams, 2020)

Give (a) page number(s), if appropriate.  In this example the citation is for the book as a whole and so includes no page number(s).


The last word on citation

If you are ever in doubt about citing something, there is extensive advice under Cite it on the Referencing@Portsmouth website.  You can find Referencing@Portsmouth by clicking on the blue and white [r] button on the Library website.

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We need to talk about prejudice

Today, I would like to take you on a brief exploration of the nature and roots of human prejudice.

The evolutionary basis of prejudice

Humans have only eight primordial emotions, one of the most powerful of which is disgust.  We feel disgust instinctively when we come across anything unfamiliar.  This is a survival instinct: what is unfamiliar might be dangerous.  The larger our world and the more diverse things we are regularly exposed to, the more diversity we accept as being normal and allow to blend into the rich tapestry of life.

In contrast, if we recoil from what is different without cautiously exploring to see whether it might actually be safe, beneficial or enjoyable, our world of experience shrinks until we become fearful of more things until only those who we decide are most like us in every way can be tolerated.  This is the unhappy path to bigotry.  It is a retraction into the heart of a shrinking comfort zone which the most fearful people fearfully defend with great energy and anger, for they have come to fear the diversity of life.  Convinced of their own righteousness, they are as much victims as those they persecute, for they will forever be at war with those they deem invaders, perverts, and other assorted threats to their peace of mind.

Those who embrace rather than question the prejudices learned in childhood rely on justifications handed down for these beliefs.  Sadly for those who wish to embrace prejudice, these justifications all fail to stand up to scrutiny.  From unjustifiable appeals to authority made by religions on the basis that one or more gods are similarly prejudiced, assertions of in-group superiority, character assassination of target groups and various arguments using selective evidence or twisting the events of history to blame minorities for adverse economic circumstances, the arguments employed all use thinly disguised logical fallacies (faulty arguments).

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Looking for something not available from the Library online?

If you need something not available from the Library, you can submit an interlibrary loan request. We will try to source any ebook or ejournal article wherever one is available. No guarantees, mind but we will certainly try!

Full details of the interlibrary loans service are available here.

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APA (6th ed.) referencing bite-sized: citations

One of the first hurdles students face when they start referencing is to understand the different roles that the in-text citation and the reference list play, and how they relate one to the other.

What are citations and why should I use them?

Citations are designed to be a very short entry in the text that indicates where an idea or information has been found recorded somewhere and is not your own original thought.  It is important to show where you have found information because it demonstrates that you have found relevant evidence and used it to formulate and support your arguments.  It also makes your own original thinking stand out.  The only time you don’t have to reference a source is if you are quoting your own original work and ideas that you have already published elsewhere.

You should always include page numbers in citations unless your department has told you that they do not require (or want) this, the source has no page numbers (like a website or some reports), you are referring to the work as a whole, rather than specific information taken from a particular part of it.


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Your questions answered: accessing eresources

Set up the University VPN if you can

Setting up the University VPN (Virtual Private Network) makes accessing all our resources much easier.  You will have to log in less often and will have access to all those resources that are still only available over the University network.  In a second step, you can connect to your K-drive and N-drive.  This simple one-time setup involves installing and configuring the GlobalProtect app.  Full instructions with screenshots and a video walkthrough for different operating systems are available from the MyPort “work anywhere” page.

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