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Advanced Information Research Skills

What is cited reference searching?

Cited reference search (or citation mining) is a functionality of an increasing number of databases.

Citation searching includes the process of tracking research backwards in time. Citation searching allows you to track research strands to current practice, identify gaps in the research, and see how often an author or work has been cited.  Knowing how often an author has been cited can give an indication of their standing in the field and may help you discern the quality of a paper.  Use cited reference searching for a quick set of results with great currency for your literature review, or for advanced analysis, comparison and tracking.

Citation reference searching in practice

Cited reference searching is the process of tracking research backwards and forwards in time. When viewing an article in a citation database, the full citation will list references used by the author to write that paper. From this list you can link to any articles indexed in that database. If an article is not indexed in that database it will not be linked.  

  • In practice, you can start with a seminal article by a key author, cited reference searching finds the listed literature citing that article. 
  • Cited reference searching finds up to the minute articles and papers for your literature review quickly. 
  • Find the listing of your article in a database, then locate the ‘Cited by’ link, and click to display the literature. 

You may wish to use the following citation referencing products: 

  • FiNDit - the red arrows adjacent to the article's title in your search results will help you find sources citing the selected item, or cited within it. If the Notre Dame library holds the full text of the citations, they will show in the resulting window when you click on the relevant arrow.
  • Google Scholar allows linking under any item listing to 'Cited by' articles, and has a 'Search within citing articles' option. 
  • Scopus allows a simple 'Cited by' as well as advanced options.  


Conduct a cited reference search 

  1. Choose a seminal journal article in your research area. 
  2. Conduct an article title / cited reference search in FiNDit, Google Scholar and Scopus 
  3. Find the 'Find sources citing this' (FiNDit) or ‘Cited by’ link (Google Scholar and Scopus) and click it to display the literature citing your article. At this point you could select relevant items, save the search or export the results to Endnote.
  4. Compare the results from each tool to consider which citation database(s) are best for your research.