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Information Literacy: 16. Following Citations

Strategies used to incorporate research skills for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Management.

Citation Searching Tutorial

Citation Searching
This video tutorial show how to use Web of Science to find recent scientific papers that have cited a particular journal article. This is a very effective way of locating recently-published journal articles on a specific topic.

(TEAS video, 6 min.)

Following Citations (Using Bibliographies)

Lists of works cited are the core of research. Scholarship is a conversation and citations are the thread of that conversation. Learning how to follow citations will help you track down those hard-to-find resources and broaden your search strategy for very current or very specific topics.

There are two dimensions to working with citations:

1) Backward citation searching
The list of works cited by a scholar gives you a snapshot of the thinking and research available at the time the research was published. It tells you what sources, ideas, theories have shaped and influenced a researcher. Looking at the list of all sources cited by an author is called 'backward citation searching.' Below is a sample citation list which is also known as a bibliography. 

2) Forward citation searching
Finding out whether an article was cited by authors after its publication will help you assess the importance of that article and how it has shaped subsequent research and scholarship.  This is called 'forward citation searching". 

Increasingly databases include information about who cited a particular reference.  Look for "Cited by" or "Times Cited" features. 

Resources for Forward Citation Searching


To use Google Scholar as a resource for citation searching, search for the title of the book or article.  Choose the CITED BY link.   The resulting list will include articles and websites that cite the original work as well as books scanned through the Google Books project. 

On the resulting list, click MORE and the FIND IT @ WILLAMETTE link to check whether we have the item in our collection electronically or in print.  If not, you can request a copy of this article through interlibrary loan.



Web of Science

After connecting to Web of Science , choose CITED REFERENCE SEARCH in the tabs at the top. Follow the example below for a cited reference search.

If you want to find works that cited:
Moser, BW & Witmer, GW.  (1999).  The effects of elk and cattle foraging on the vegetation, birds, and small mammals of the Bridge Creek Wildlife Area, Oregon.  International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 45:3-4,  151-157.


The Cited Author is entered with the author's last name followed by the initial for the first name. The asterisk * is added at the end to search any middle initials the author might have.

For the Cited Work, titles of books/journals are often abbreviated in various ways. Misspellings found in bibliographies are not corrected by the database provider, so it is often a good idea to search the CITED YEAR or a portion of the first word followed by the asterisk * which will find all possible endings. 

The next screen is a listing of possible citations for the original work. Citation variations are often due to a paper's volume, page, and year being cited incorrectly by an author.  Select the boxes next to ALL the citations that resemble the original citation and then click Finish Search.


On the results screen, you will have a list of all articles included in the Web of Science database that cite your original book or article.  You can refine the search based on Subject Areas to get a sense of how the book or article has been used by scholars in different fields.


Science Citation index also has a citation mapper that can show up to two generations forward (future) and two generations backwards (past) of items cited in an article, or subsequent literature that cite the original article.  Below is an image of citation patters one generation forward and backward of an article.

For further information on how to use this database, contact John Repplinger (, Science Librarian at Willamette University.