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Cited Reference Searching: A How-To Guide

This guide covers search techniques and resources that offer the ability to search the list of references (or footnotes) found in journal articles, books, websites, etc.

What is it?

Cited Reference searching is the ability to search the list of references (or footnotes) found in journal articles, books, dissertations, websites, etc. It is based on the premise that you have a scholarly work in-hand that you really like and you want to see who else has used that work in their research - ergo, have included it in their list of references (or footnotes). Typically, cited reference searching involves looking for works by a particular author or for a specific piece.

Main Databases

There is not just one source for cited reference information - regardless of what subject you are researching.

The 3 "main" databases each have their strengths and weaknesses. None of them should be used exclusively.

Web of Science (WoS) is the name of the software umbrella under which several databases reside. Researchers interested in cited reference searching would find the following WoS databases useful:

Biosis Citation Index and the Data Citation Index are not currently cross-searchable with the other citation indexes in the Core Collection; however, you can search them by clicking on the above links to the database names.

Using some little known features of Web of Science you can:

  • look for an average citation rate for a specific journal (e.g., American Journal of Botany, Economics and Philosophy, etc.) and compare it to citation rates for your own publications in the same journal.
  • look for the average number of citations to ISU faculty publications in a specific department on campus and compare it to publications from comparable departments at other institutions.
  • generate a citation report for any search set you can create (excluding cited reference searches).

The file below describes how to do these things. (NOTE: examples use library science and the Parks Library, but the same techniques can be applied to almost any other department on campus as well.) If you need assistance, please use the contact information on the Science & Technology tab at the top of this page.

  • Use Scopus to search on your topic when you want search results that are interdisciplinary and include international literature, as detailed below.
  • Use Scopus when you would like to see results ranked by times cited and relevance and as well as by date.
  • Look up an important paper on Scopus and see the reference list as well as the forward cites to the paper.
  • Use Scopus to set citation alerts. Who is citing your work?

For more details about Scopus - see the Scopus Guide.

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. It is designed very similar to the main Google search, but the results are limited to just scholarly sources: papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. One of the key features is that it will show how many times a piece has been cited within Google Scholar.

Typical Results look like this: Gschneidner Metallurgy or Wells Psychological Uncertainty or Cravens American Culture. Notice that the social sciences and humanities search results contain more information on books, book chapters, and other types of non-journal resources. Google Scholar is also ideal for interdisciplinary areas - such as in this search for papers by Wallace Huffman, ISU Economist, dealing with agricultural economics: Huffman Human Capital.

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Your Librarian

Lorrie Pellack's picture
Lorrie Pellack
Contact:
Head of Research Services
150 Parks Library
Ames, IA 50011-2140
Phone: 515-294-5569

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