Database information is seldom provided in reference list entries. The reference provides readers with the details they will need to perform a search themselves if they want to read the work—in most cases, writers do not need to explain the path they personally used.

Database information in references is covered in Section 9.30 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

Think of it this way: When you buy a book at a bookstore or order a copy off the internet, you do not write the name of the (online) bookstore in the reference. And when you go to the library and get a book off the shelf, you do not write the name of the library in the reference. It is understood that readers will go to their bookstore or library of choice to find it.

The same is true for database information in references. Most periodicals and books are available through a variety of databases or platforms as well as in print. Different readers will have different methods or points of access, such as university library subscriptions. Most of the time, it does not matter what database you used, so it is not necessary to provide database information in references.

However, there are a few cases when it is necessary for readers to retrieve the cited work from a particular database or archive, either because the database publishes original, proprietary content or because the work is of limited circulation. This page explains how to write references for works from academic research databases and how to provide database information in references when it is necessary to do so.

Works From Academic Research Databases

Do not include database information for works obtained from most academic research databases or platforms because works in these resources are widely available. This includes journal articles, books, and book chapters from academic research databases.

  • Examples of academic research databases and platforms include APA PsycNET, PsycINFO, Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, Ebook Central, EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, JSTOR (excluding its primary sources collection because these are works of limited distribution), MEDLINE, Nexis Uni, Ovid, ProQuest (excluding its dissertations and theses databases because dissertations and theses are works of limited circulation), PubMed Central (excluding authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts because these are works of limited circulation), ScienceDirect, Scopus, and Web of Science.
  • When citing a work from one of these databases or platforms, do not include the database or platform name in the reference list entry unless the work falls under one of the exceptions described next (databases with original, proprietary content and works of limited circulation).
  • Likewise, do not include URLs from these academic research databases in reference list entries because these URLs will not resolve for readers.
  • Instead of a database URL, include a DOI if the work has one. If a widely available work (e.g., journal article, book, book chapter) from an academic research database does not have a DOI, treat the work as a print version. See the guidelines for how to include DOIs and URLs in references for more information.

The following example shows how to create a reference list entry for a journal article with a DOI from an academic research database.

Hallion, M., Taylor, A., Roberts, R., & Ashe, M. (2019). Exploring the association between physical activity participation and self-compassion in middle-aged adults. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 8(3), 305–316. https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000150

  • Parenthetical citation: (Hallion et al., 2019)
  • Narrative citation: Hallion et al. (2019)


If the article did not have a DOI, the reference would simply end after the page range, the same as the reference for a print work.

Databases With Original, Proprietary Content

Provide the name of the database or archive when it publishes original, proprietary works available only in that database or archive (e.g., UpToDate or the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews). Readers must retrieve the cited work from that exact database or archive, so include information about the database or archive in the reference list entry.

References for works from proprietary databases are similar to journal article references. The name of the database or archive is written in italic title case in the source element, the same as a periodical title, and followed by a period. After the database or archive information, also provide the DOI or URL of the work. If the URL is session-specific (meaning it will not resolve for readers), provide the URL of the database home page or login page instead. 

The following example shows how to create a reference list entry for an article from the UpToDate database:

Stein, M. B., & Taylor, C. T. (2019). Approach to treating social anxiety disorder in adults. UpToDate. Retrieved September 13, 2019, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-treating-social-anxiety-disorder-in-adults

  • Parenthetical citation: (Stein & Taylor, 2019)
  • Narrative citation: Stein and Taylor (2019)

Works of Limited Circulation

Provide the name of the database or archive for works of limited circulation, such as dissertations and theses, manuscripts posted in a preprint archive, and monographs in ERIC. The database may also contain works of wide circulation, such as journal articles—only the works of limited circulation need database information in the reference.

References for works of limited circulation from databases or archives are similar to report references. The name of the database or archive is provided in the source element (in title case without italics), the same as a publisher name, and followed by a period. After the database or archive information, also provide the DOI or URL of the work. If the URL is session-specific (meaning it will not resolve for readers), provide the URL of the database home page or login page instead.

The following are examples of works of limited circulation from databases or archives (for additional examples, see Section 9.30 of the Publication Manual):   

  • dissertations and theses published in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global

Risto, A. (2014). The impact of social media and texting on students’ academic writing skills (Publication No. 3683242) [Doctoral dissertation, Tennessee State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Risto, 2014)
  • Narrative citation: Risto (2014)
  • manuscripts posted in a preprint archive such as PsyArXiv

Inbar, Y., & Evers, E. R. K. (2019). Worse is bad: Divergent inferences from logically equivalent comparisons. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/ueymx

  • Parenthetical citation: (Inbar & Evers, 2014)
  • Narrative citation: Inbar and Evers (2014)
  • monographs published in ERIC

Riegelman, R. K., & Albertine, S. (2008). Recommendations for undergraduate public health education (ED504790). ERIC. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504790.pdf

  • Parenthetical citation: (Riegelman & Albertine, 2008)
  • Narrative citation: Riegelman and Albertine (2008)

If you are in doubt as to whether to include database information in a reference, refer to the template for the reference type in question (see Chapter 10 of the Publication Manual).