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How to Search for Citations

What is Citation Searching?

Citation searching allows you to search either backwards or forwards in the published literature, starting from a known reference to a book or journal article.  Searching backwards using reference lists or an article's bibliography lets you see who your authors cited in researching their work; searching forward using database features will locate new articles which cite the book or article you have already found.

Citation searching:

  • Can give you relevant results from a different perspective. It is best used to enhance subject searching results.
  • Works best if your known reference is of high quality, by leaders in the field, and highly relevant to the topic under research.
  • Allows you to trace discussion and argument leading up to the publication of your chosen work and beyond it.
  • Is not the same as searching for articles by an author.

This demonstration will tell you how to carry out a citation search: Citation Searching: using one article as a starting point.

How Do I Search for Citations?

Most article databases allow you to trace backwards to see who your author(s) cited in researching their work. Search for your article and look for the reference list or bibliography associated with that article.

Many article databases and journal publishers’ websites allow you to search forwards to find citations of a work in one way or another.  Look for a feature called “Cited by”, “Times Cited in this Database”, “Citations” or something similar.

For example:

Discover database showing times cited             Citations count

Citation searching is particularly well-developed in Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science. Search for your original article in the database of your choice and look for:

Google Scholar:

Google Scholar citation count


Scopus citation count

Web of Science:

Web of Science citation count