Cited Reference Searching

Researchers regularly find more sources by looking at the footnotes in an article or book. But these references will always be older than the publication you have in hand.

Citation indexes are set up to search for sources cited in the footnotes of journal articles and other publications as soon as they become available.  This searching allows you to find newer titles that cite the books and articles you already know are key for your topic.  By relying on connections between authors rather than subject words and by moving forward in time, citation searching can open up new avenues of research.

It can be especially valuable for revealing interdisciplinary connections and for topics that are under-researched.  Overall, it gives you a sense of the larger conversation researchers engage in as they advance arguments, provide new evidence and build consensus.

Watch this video to see cited reference searches in Web of Science and Google Scholar. 

Using Web of Science together with Google Scholar provides both journal article and book results.  Check with a librarian for additional cited reference databases in specific subject areas. 

Web of Science   Icon               Icon

Search Tips

  • Start with the Cited Reference Search tab
  • Choose co-authors with less common names to avoid many irrelevant entries
  • Shorten the author’s first name with * –  Example: Arendt H* rather than Hannah
  • Don’t search the Cited Work field.  Use the Author and the Cited Year(s) 
  • Open More Settings and remove the academic domain/s that don’t relate
  • Many pages of results?  Search in the box on the left with a further keyword/s or limit to a relevant Web of Science subject Category
  • Sort results for the most useful choices: Date, Times Cited, Usage (in the database), Usage Last 180 Days

Google Scholar

Search Tips

  • Enter the title of the article or book in quotation marks
  • Go to the Cited by [no.] link to find the publications that cite your chosen title
  • Check the Search within Citing Article box to focus your results on a specific keyword
Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar
SubjectsFull coverage-Includes social sciences and humanitiesGreater coverage than WoS of the humanities + scholarship in languages other than English
PublicationsIndexes journals onlyIndexes books and reports as well as journals and magazines
QualityResults=Peer reviewed scholarly journal articlesResults=Everything on the web.  You need to filter for reliability.  
QuantityGiven the focus on scholarly journal articles, the number of citations are naturally fewerHigher numbers of citations than WoS
CurrencyNew articles added daily (Mon.-Fri.)Updated every other day
AnalysisOffers many tools for analyzing the development of research in specific fields including the “next generation of scholarship.” Use the Times Cited column to see newer scholarship that references the journal articles you have just identified as potential sources in your citation search.Very limited search interface and does not offer the tools for analysis and reports provided by WoS

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Created June 17, 2020