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HIST 495: Historiography and Research Writing

This course guide was created to accompany a library-led instruction session for HIST 495 covering research methods and library services available for students.

Citation chaining

If you've found one good source and you want to find more like it, try out citation chaining! Citation chaining is the process of tracking down items connected to a single paper by using citations to follow a line of research backward or forward in time. How does this work?

  1. Start with an article that you know is useful for your research and highly relevant to your topic. 
  2. Examine the references list at the end of your starting article. These are resources that the author used to build their argument, and they may contain information that you can use to help you build your argument, as well.
  3. Look up the books, articles, or primary sources that your first source cited, and check if any of them might be useful for your own paper.
  4. If you find another useful source, you can check its references list for additional citations to potentially useful sources! Doing this can be particularly useful when trying to find reports or primary sources that can help inform historical research.

This content was adapted from "LIB 160: Information Literacy" by the Iowa State University Library Instruction Services.

Chaining in the opposite direction

Normally, citation chaining is done by looking at the sources that your original source cited in their reference list, but this can work in the opposite direction as well! Using tools like Google Scholar, you can find articles or book chapters that have cited your starting article! Just look up your article, book, or book chapter in Google Scholar and click on the Cited by link under the item's information: 

An article in Google Scholar with the text "Cited by 163" circled beneath the item's description

After you click on this link, you will find a list of books, cook chapters, and articles that cited your original source, some of which you can access online:

Google Scholar cited by results: several books are listed all covering the topic of empire, international relation, or society.

Citation chaining like this can be incredibly useful if you want to find more recent research that has built upon the sources you already have, or if you want to see another side of a particular issue or event.

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Becca Yowler