Q. What is a database accession number, and is it included in APA formatted references?


An Accession Number (sometimes called a Document ID) is a unique number assigned by a particular database as an additional means of locating a specific article. Note that an Accession Number is distinct and unrelated to a document’s DOI number.

Many Library databases assign an Accession Number or Document ID, including EBSCOhost. See example in screen shot below. The Accession Number included in an EBSCOhost record is an identifying number of an article in the database. If you know the accession number of an article, you can search for it by entering AN as a search tag in EBSCOhost's Boolean search screens, followed by the number.

While Accession Numbers are created as a unique identifier within a database, unfortunately, searching by Accession Number can be tricky and unreliable for a number of reasons. First, these numbers are assigned by the databases and are subject to change without warning. Further, the same article may be in more than one database, and thus will have a different accession numbers. Finally, you must already know which specific database (e.g., CINAHL, Business Source Complete, etc.) contains the article in full text to know where to search. You cannot search by Accession Number in Roadrunner Search.

Accession numbers are not used in APA formatted references.

EBSCO article record view with Accession Number highlighted.

  • Last Updated Jan 17, 2019
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  • Answered By NCU Library

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