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.


Amato 1994 = Sara Amato, How to cite the Internet, «College & research libraries news», 55 (1994), n. 8, p. 511,<>.

Antoniades [et al.] 2011 = Demetris Antoniades - Elias Athanasopoulos - Iasonas Polakis - Sotiris Ioannidis - Thomas Karagiannis - Georgios Kontaxis - Evangelos P. Markatos, We.b: the web of short URLs, in WWW ’11: proceedings of the 20th international conference on World wide web (Hyderabad, India, 28 March - 1 April 2011), New York, ACM, 2011, p. 715-724, <>.

APA 2019 = American psychological association, DOIs and URLs, September 2019, <>.

Arora [et al.] 2016 = Sanjay K. Arora - Yin Li - Jan Youtie - Philip Shapira, Using the Wayback machine to mine websites in the social sciences: a methodological resource, «Journal of the Association for information science and technology», 67 (2016), n. 8, p. 1904-1915, <>.

Boers - Diepeveen 2016 = Peter Boers - Robert Diepeveen, (Aster)-picking through the pieces of short URL services: an investigation into the maliciousness of short URLs, Universiteit van Amsterdam. Systems and networking laboratory, Master research projects 2015-2016, February 7, 2016, <>.

Casserly - Bird 2003 = Mary F. Casserly - James E. Bird, Web citation availability: analysis and implications for scholarship, «College & research libraries», 64 (2003), n. 4, p. 300-317, <>.

Choi [et al.] 2018 = Daejin Choi - Jinyoung Han - Selin Chun - Efstratios Rappos - Stephan Robert - Ted Taekyoung Kwon, uncovering content publishing and sharing through URL shortening services, «Telematics and informatics», 35 (2018), n. 5, p. 1310-1323,<>.

DOI 2019 = International DOI foundation, DOI handbook, updated December 19, 2019, <>.

DOI 2021 = International DOI foundation, Factsheet: key facts on digital object identifier system, updated December 1, 2021, <https://www.doi. org/factsheets/DOIKeyFacts.html>.

Fry - Marshall - Mellins-Cohen 2019 = Norman K. Fry - Helina Marshall - Tasha Mellins-Cohen, In praise of preprints, «Access microbiology», 1 (2019), n. 2, <>.

Heesen - Bright 2021= Remco Heesen - Liam Kofi Bright, Is peer review a good idea?, «The British journal for the philosophy of science», 72 (2021), n. 3, p. 635-663, <>.

Ivey - Crum 2018 = Camille Ivey - Janet Crum, Choosing the right citation management tool: Endnote, Mendeley, Refworks, or Zotero, «Journal of the Medical library association», 106 (2018), n. 3, p. 399-403, <>.

Lee [et al.] 2013 = Carole J. Lee - Cassidy R. Sugimoto - Guo Zhang - Blaise Cronin, Bias in peer review, «Journal of the American society for information science and technology», 64 (2013), n. 1, p. 2-17, <>.

Li - Crane 1993 = Xia Li - Nancy B. Crane, Electronic style: a guide to citing electronic information, Westport, Meckler, 1993.

Liu 2021 = Jia Liu, Digital object identifier (DOI) and DOI services: an overview, «Libri», 71 (2021), n. 4, p. 349-360, DOI: 10.1515/libri-2020-0018.

Loan - Shah 2020 = Fayaz Ahmad Loan - Ufaira Yaseen Shah, The decay andpersistence of web references, «Digital library perspectives», 36 (2020), n. 2, p. 157-166,<>.

Nikiforakis [et al.] 2014 = Nick Nikiforakis - Federico Maggi - Gianluca Stringhini - M. Zubair Rafique - Wouter Joosen - Christopher Kruegel - Frank Piessens - Giovanni Vigna - Stefano Zanero, Stranger danger: exploring the ecosystem of ad-based URL shortening services, in WWW ’14: proceedings of the 23rd international conference on World wide web (Seoul, Korea, April 7-11, 2014), New York, ACM, 2014, p. 51-62, preprint disponibile sul sito della Katholieke Universiteit Leuven a <>.

Paskin 2015 = Norman Paskin, The digital object identifier: from ad hoc to national to international, in The critical component: standards in the information exchange environment, edited by Todd Carpenter, Chicago, American library association, 2015, preprint disponibile sul sito della International DOI foundation a <>.

Pattewar [et al.] 2019 = Tareek Pattewar - Chandrashekhar Mali - Shriram Kshire - Minal Sadarao - Jayesh Salunkhe - Mujahid Ali Shah, Malicious short URLs detection: a survey, «International research journal of engineering and technology», 6 (2019), n. 11, p. 286-292, <>.

Pievatolo 2012 = Maria Chiara Pievatolo, L’onore degli ambasciatori: citazioni ad accesso aperto, «Bollettino telematico di filosofia politica», 15 Dicembre 2012, <>.

Pievatolo 2014 = Maria Chiara Pievatolo, Cambiamo stile? La citazione accademica nell’era della rete, «Bollettino telematico di filosofia politica», 11 Luglio 2014, <>.

Piwowar 2016 = Heather Piwowar, Introducing oaDOI: resolve a DOI straight to OA, «OurResearch blog», 25 October 2016, <>.

POWL (2021) = Purdue online writing lab, URLs vs. DOIs, Purdue univesity, 2021, <>.

Revelli 2010 = Carlo Revelli, Citazione bibliografica, ed. aggiornata, Roma, Associazione italiana biblioteche, 2010.

Ridi 1995 = Riccardo Ridi, Citare Internet, «Bollettino AIB», 35 (1995), n. 2, p. 211-220, <>.

Ridi 2006 = Riccardo Ridi, Citare Internet: tradizioni da confermare e miti da sfatare, «Bollettino AIB», 46 (2006), n. 3, p. 247-253, <>.

Ridi 2007 = Riccardo Ridi, La biblioteca come ipertesto: verso l’integrazione dei servizi e dei documenti, Milano, Editrice bibliografica, 2007.

Ridi 2021a = Riccardo Ridi, Il documento bibliografico: alcune considerazioni sul concetto e sul termine, in L’arte della ricerca: fonti, libri, biblioteche. Studi offerti ad Alberto Petrucciani per i suoi 65 anni, a cura di Simonetta Buttò, Vittorio Ponzani, Simona Turbanti, con la collaborazione di Enrico Pio Ardolino, Roma, AIB, 2021, p. 189-200. Preprint disponibile dal 9 Agosto 2021 in E-LIS a <>.

Ridi 2021b = Riccardo Ridi, Le recensioni nelle biblioteche digitali, slides della relazione tenuta alla giornata di studi online Dal critico all’influencer: metamorfosi della recensione, IULM, 24 Settembre 2021, <>.

Sampath Kumar - Prithviraj 2015 = B. T. Sampath Kumar - K. R. Prithviraj, Bringing life to dead: role of Wayback machine in retrieved vanished URLs, «Journal of information science», 41 (2015), n. 1, p. 71-81, <>.

Schonfeld 2016 = Roger C. Schonfeld, Co-opting ‘official’ channels through infrastructures for openness, «The scholarly kitchen», 3 March 2016, <>.

Sellitto 2004 = Carmine Sellitto, A study of missing web-cites in scholarly articles: towards an evaluation framework, «Journal of information science», 30 (2004), n. 6, p. 484-495, <>.

Sheldon 2018 = Tom Sheldon, Preprints could promote confusion and distortion, «Nature», 559, 445 (24 July 2018, correction 25 July 2018), <>.

Soderberg - Errington - Nosek 2020 = Courtney K. Soderberg - Timothy M. Errington - Brian A. Nosek, Credibility of preprints: an interdisciplinary survey of researchers, «Royal Society open science», 7 (2020), n. 10, p. 247-253, <>.

Stelline 2021 = La biblioteca piattaforma della conoscenza: collaborativa, inclusiva, reticolare, Convegno delle Stelline 2021, Milano, Editrice bibliografica, 2021.

Tennant 2018 = Jonathan P. Tennant, The state of the art in peer review, «FEMS microbiology letters», 365 (2018), n. 19, <>.

Tennant [et al.] 2018 = Jonathan P. Tennant - Serge Bauin - Sarah James - Juliane Kant, The evolving preprint landscape: introductory report for the Knowledge exchange working group on preprints, based on contributions from the Knowledge exchange preprints advisory group and edited by Jonathan P. Tennant, created 17 May 2018, last edited 2 July, preprint disponibile in MetaArXiv a <>.

University of Michigan 2021 = University of Michigan. Information and technology services, Shortened URLs security, 2021, <>.

Van de Sompel [et al.] 2014 = Herbert Van de Sompel - Robert Sanderson - Harihar Shankar - Martin Klein, Persistent identifiers for scholarly assets and the web: the need for an unambiguous mapping, «International journal of digital curation», 9 (2014), n. 1, <>.

Venuda 2012 = Fabio Venuda, La citazione bibliografica nei percorsi di ricerca: dalla galassia Gutenberg alla rivoluzione digitale, Milano, Unicopli, 2012.

W3C 2021 = W3C, URIs, URLs, and URNs: clarification and recommendations 1.0, report from the joint W3C/IETF URI planning interest group,<>.

WHATWG 2021 = Web hypertext application technology working group, URL: living standard, last updated 25 October 2021, <>.

Wikipedia 2021a = Digital object identifier, in Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia, last edited on 27 December 2021, <>.

Wikipedia 2021b = Uniform resource identifier, in Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia, last edited on 11 December 2021, <>.

Wikipedia 2021c = URL, in Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia, last edited on 16 December 2021, <>.

Wikipedia 2022 = URL shortening, in Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia, last edited on 4 January 2022, <>.

WWWF 2021 = World wide web foundation, History of the Web, 2021, <>.


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.