Citing the internet with DOIs and shortened URLs? Better not


  • Riccardo Ridi Ca' Foscari University of Venice



DOIs, Shortened URLs, Bibliographic citations, Internet, Preprints


In bibliographic citations of online documents, URLs are increasingly replaced with shorter ones provided by services such as TinyURL and Bitly or with DOI codes. These alternative identifiers, although undoubtedly useful for other purposes and in other contexts, should however be used with great caution and parsimony in bibliographic references for numerous reasons, including: 1) the invisibility of the original URL, useful to the readers for the evaluation, for the orientation and for possible searches in the Internet archive; 2) the uncertainty about the actual longevity of alternative identifiers; 3) the slight increase in the time required to reach the document you want to consult and the greater probability that at least one of the sites involved is temporarily out of use or slowed down; 4) the greater immediacy of use, universality and granularity of the URL compared to the DOI; 5) the existence of misleading ‘paper DOIs’ which refer to documents not yet available online; 6) the possibility that DOIs are automatically converted into the URLs of unofficial versions of the corresponding documents; 7) the advertising that is actually given to private companies providing shortened URLs, subtracting it from more relevant and reliable sites and publications, as well as the risk of exposing readers to further advertisements managed by these companies; 8) the risk of shortened URLs being inhibited by postal systems and firewalls that suspect them of hiding sites considered dangerous. The article also provides some tips on how to cite preprints and how to ‘limit damage’ in the event that excessively long and complicated URLs are still replaced by shortened URLs.


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2022-07-19 — Updated on 2022-07-22


How to Cite

Ridi, R. (2022). Citing the internet with DOIs and shortened URLs? Better not. Bibliothecae.It, 11(1), 222–246. (Original work published July 19, 2022)