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Citation Searching

What is a Citation Search?

Citation searching, also known as cited reference searching, is a search for books and articles that cite a previously published resource.

Searching for Cited References

  • will find similar research
  • will show you how many times and where a publication is being cited
  • will show you who is citing a particular paper
  • to find other researchers in the field
  • to locate current research based on earlier research
Some databases, e.g. Web of Science, will allow you to search backwards in time to see what led to the article you started with.

What are Citation Indexes?

Citation indexes track references that authors put in the bibliographies of published papers. They provide a way to search for and analyze the literature in a way not possible through simple keyword/topical searching. It also enables users to gather data on the "impact" of journals, as well as assessing particular areas of research activity and publication. This field is called bibliometrics.

Citation indexes can find references that cite earlier references; how many times my reference has been cited; determine what are the best journals in my field; and verify obscure references.

Citation searching is only available on a small number of databases.

Further Information

The importance and "impact" of scholarly research articles are often measured by

  • the number of times a published paper has been cited
  • the ranking of the journal in which a paper is published
  • the acceptance rate of submitted articles to a journal

For further information, see Citation Searching and Bibliometric Measures from C&RL News (pdf)