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Web of Science: Using a Citation Database: 3. Cited References

Why Do a Citation Search?

Citations reveal relationships that exist between publications. 

  • When authors cite a publication, they have created an inherent topical link between the cited item and their own paper.

    Even if authors use older or different terminology for a disease, disorder or intervention, the references cited in their paper, and citations made by later authors to that paper, can enable you to find publications that you might not identify in text-word or subject heading searches.
  • Citations enable you trace how an idea has been confirmed, applied, extended or corrected in later publications.

    They allow you to move forward and backward in time to see the building blocks of research as well as new developments. They are especially useful when you find an interesting older paper and want to find out how (or whether) its ideas have been developed in subsequent work. 
  • Highly cited papers are often influential or classic works on a topic.

    Even if your search retrieves thousands of articles, listing the results by how often they've been cited can help you target key papers that you might otherwise overlook. 

Cited and citing references should be part of any comprehensive literature search.

This module reviews finding citing and cited references, finding highly cited articles and using the Related Articles feature to uncover more papers and scholarly networks.

Although Scopus lacks a separate Cited Reference Search, its citation searching features are very similar to those in Web of Science.