Skip to main content

Citation Searching

What is a Citation Search?

Citation searching, also know as cited reference searching, is a search for other articles that have made reference to a particular book, article, or author. Citation searching will help you find similar research and find out how important a work is to your research.

A citation search will show you who has mentioned your article, where, and how many times. It will allow you to search forward in the published literature, starting from your known reference, to locate new articles which cite your known reference in their bibliographies.

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)

Finding Journal Impact Factors

The impact factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the last two years have been cited in the current year. When used as a point of comparison with other journals, the impact factor indicates the relative importance of a journal within a given field. You can find journal rankings by clicking on:

Journal Citation Reports
Accessible from drop-down menu at top of Web of Science search screen. Allows you to evaluate and compare journals worldwide within subject categories.

For an explanation of impact factors, check Journal Impact Factors from Michigan State University Libraries.
Covers science and social sceinces journals (although much more in the science area, with more subject categories), including ones not included in ISI, PhD theses and more...