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How to do Cited Reference Searching in Web of Science: Home

A step-by-step guide to doing cited reference searches in the Web of Science database. Note: This LibGuide was originally created by Kimberley Stephenson.

What is Cited Reference Searching?

Cited reference searching is a powerful way of tracking research over time. It is a feature unique to the Web of Science database, and can be a bit complicated.

This guide will walk you through the process of identifying articles that have cited a given book or article. Cited reference searching works best when you have a particular title in mind, usually one that is well-known in your field.

Once you have identified an important or influential source on your topic, cited reference searching can help you find articles that have cited it. You can then see articles that have cited those articles--and so on--thus forming a chain of citations.

Cited Reference Searching in Web of Science

Cited reference searching allows you to trace the development of ideas throughout the research cycle. Using Web of Science's cited reference search, you can locate articles that have cited particular books and articles, thereby following a chain of citations.

The cited reference search process works best when you've identified an important scholar or research study, and want to discover articles that have cited that research.

Here's how it works:

  1. In the Web of Science database (link opens in a new window), click on drop down arrow next to "Basic Search" and then select the 'Cited Reference Search' link.

  2. Enter either the name of the scholar whose work you're researching, or the name of the book or journal article you're tracing.

    IMPORTANT: Web of Science indexes authors' last names and first initials only, and makes extensive use of abbreviations for book and article titles. It is vitally important that you use the correctly formatted name or title.

    If you're searching for a person, enter only their last name and first initial, followed by an asterisk to account for any work they may have published with their middle initial. For example, to find articles that cite Albert Bandura's work on self-efficacy, enter his name as Bandura A*.

    If you're searching for articles that cite a particular book or article, click on the 'Select from Index' link and type in the title of the book or the title of the journal in which the article was published to find the correct abbreviation. For example, if you're looking for articles that cite Bandura's book Social Learning and Personality Development, click on the 'Select from Index' link next to the right of the 'Cited Work' menu (see graphic above), and enter the book title in the box. Scroll through the list until you find SOCIAL LEARNING AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT, and click 'Add.' Don't stop there - there will often be abbreviated titles, too. Scroll again until you see the abbreviation SOCIAL LEARNING PERS (see graphic below), and click 'Add' again. When you've found all likely titles/abbreviations, click 'OK' to transfer them to Cited Author field of the initial search page.

  3. Once your search terms have been entered, click 'Search' on the Cited Reference Search page.
  4. Each of the entries in the results list is an abbreviated version of a citation that matches your search criteria. Here are the results when searching for the cited author Bandura A* and cited work SOCIAL LEARNING PERS

  5. Notice how the entries show different dates for the same work. In many cases, this indicates that the citing authors were using different editions or printings of the book. The entry with the biggest number in the 'Citing Articles' column (in this case, the very bottom of the list) usually represents the correctly-formatted citation, but the other entries may still be associated with relevant articles. You want to find as many articles as possible, so check all the boxes that could be relevant, then click 'Finish Search.'
  6. The results page shows all of the articles (more than 1,600) in the Web of Science database that cite Bandura's SOCIAL LEARNING PERS, most recent first. Keep in mind that this is a small subset of all of the articles ever published, so there may be other articles out there in other databases outside of Web of Science! Web of Science has very little full text, but you can use the Full Text Finder button to see if APU has access to the journals.
  7. Use the 'Refine Results' options on the left side of the page (see graphic below) to focus your results. For example, choosing the "Psychology, Multidisciplinary" subject area limit shows you articles just that field. 

  8. You can think of these articles as 'children,' or the second generation, of Albert Bandura's book, because they cite it directly in their reference lists. You can see those reference lists by clicking on the article titles, then clicking the number shown next under 'Citation Network.'

    Pay special attention to the 'Times Cited' link underneath the citation. This tells you how many times that particular article has been cited by others in the Web of Science collection of publications. You can click the number to see a list of those articles, which are effectively 'grandchildren,' or the third generation, of Bandura's book. And so on, and so can even go back to the results page and click the 'Create Citation Report' link (upper right corner) to see which of Bandura's second generation articles have generated the most third-generation articles. Powerful stuff!
  9. Need additional help? Check out the video tutorials on the Web of Science training site.

NOTE:  Even though most of the results you get in Web of Science do not provide full-text for the articles (so you will use the Full Text Finder button a lot!), you can essentially view the full-text bibliography of every result by clicking on the number link in 'Cited References.' The items that have links for the titles are items included in the Web of Science.

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