Choosing the right URL

British Standard BS ISO 690:2010 prefers a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or stable URL. These are used so that URLs remain accurate and link readers to material even when a website has been updated or changed. It is not always easy to recognise a stable link but you may see labels for stable URL, permanent link or DOI on a publisher web site or in a database. You should always use these. In cases where there is no obvious stable URL or DOI given you may use the URL in the address bar or simply the domain name (e.g. http://www.name.ac.uk)

Whichever URL you cite, it is good practice to test it to see if it links to the material correctly. For resources that you have logged in to for access, you should ensure you are logged out of the resource and have cleared your cache/search history before you test the link.

We provide guidance below on the types of online resource you are most likely to cite with some examples.

 

Material from within a database (e.g. journal articles, newspaper articles, standards, theses or reports)

Use the stable URL, permanent link or DOI provided. This is commonly shown on the citation and abstract screen, or beside the options for saving, printing or exporting the record. If you cannot see this, use the URL in the address bar.

Example: (Journal article DOI from a database) Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1682/JRRD.2013.08.0174

Example: (Newspaper article URL from a database) Available from: http://search.proquest.com/newsstand/docview/1613030567/abstract/EB63D37B37F24A6DPQ/1?accountid=15977#

 

Material on a publisher website (e.g. journal articles or ebooks)

Use the stable URL, permanent link or DOI provided. This is commonly shown on the citation and abstract screen, or beside the options for saving, printing or exporting the record. If you cannot see this, use the URL in the address bar.

Example: (Journal article DOI from a publisher website) Available from: doi: 10.1111/j.1468-4446.2011.01404.x

Example: (address bar URL for an ebook) Available from: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com.gcu.idm.oclc.org/view/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199594641.001.0001/acprof-9780199594641

 

Material on websites (e.g. newspaper articles, reports, organisational publications or web pages)

It is less common to see DOIs or permanent links for material on the open web (e.g. government or organisation's sites, blogs or company websites). In these cases use the URL in the address bar. If you are downloading publications, the URL for the PDF document is usually also fine to use.

Example: (report from a website) Available from: http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/files/2013/9642/4640/Joint_Report_on_Regulation_of_Healthcare_Professionals.pdf

Example: (newspaper article) Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/18/war-generations-destroy-left

 

Ebooks from within a database (e.g. Dawsonera, EBL, MyiLibrary)

Stable URLs or DOIs are not commonly provided on aggregator databases for ebooks. The URLs shown in the address bar are often generated during your session and are not appropriate to cite as they generally just link back to the home page of the database. In these cases, use the domain address.

Example: Available from: http://www.dawsonera.com