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Cited Reference Search - Web of Science

What is a Cited Reference Search?

A cited reference search is an important tool for any research project, but especially when you want a comprehensive understanding of the research that has been conducted in your topic area. A cited reference search allows you to find articles that have included a previously published article in their lists of references. When you have found a useful article, it is wise to look at the list of references to find more sources. A cited reference search allows you to look forward in time to new research that used your original article as a building block.


This image shows a 1991 article by Dr. Toppino in the center.  On the left you see the 48 references that were cited in that article.  The 28 articles that have cited that article since its publication are displayed on the right.

When is a Cited Reference Search useful?

scholar.pngA cited reference search is especially useful when you have found a keystone article or important scholar related to your topic.  For instance, you may notice that the same article is being cited again and again throughout your research.  A cited reference search allows you to find all the articles indexed in Web of Science that cited that article in a single search.  Similarly, you could select multiple articles by a single important scholar to evaluate his or her impact on the field.

Through a cited reference search, you can discover how a known idea or innovation has been confirmed, applied, improved, extended, or corrected.

-Thomson Reuters, publishers of Web of Science

There are many instances when a cited reference search is not useful because many scholarly articles may never be cited. The sheer volume of scholarly publishing  means that many articles will simply go unnoticed.

Furthermore, recent articles will rarely be cited because it can take a year or two to have an article published, plus the additional time to research a topic and/or perform an experiment or study. An article less than a few years old has not had enough time to be cited by even newer articles.

How do I do a Cited Reference Search?

Conducting a cited reference search in Web of Science can be tricky. See the quick video tutorial or detailed instructions below.

What is actually being searched?

When you enter Web of Science, you will be searching the Sciences Citaiton Index and the Social Sciences Index.  It is recommended that you search both of these indices for research in psychology. You may also choose to include the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, although this database is not as well developed.

You can view this information below the search boxes, under the heading, "Citation Databases."

Step by Step Instructions

1.  From the library website, select Web of Science.

  Web of Science (Thomson Reuters)

2. The basic search screen will open. Click the blue box with the down arrow to expand the search type menu. Select Cited Reference Search. 

3. In the first box, enter the author's name as demonstrated in the example: Last-name first-initial*(Toppino T*).  This instructs the computer to find all possible variations of your author's name.  Use the first author listed on the article.

4. In the third box, enter the four-digit year the article was published.

5. If your author has a common last name, you will probably also need to include the journal title in the second box. However, you cannot simply enter the title of the journal, but must use the abbreviation provided by Web of Science. Click the link for the Journal Abbreviation List found just below the box.  Find the abbreviation for your title.  HINT: After clicking the first letter of the title, use your browser's find feature to search for the title.

6. Click Search.

7. You may see one or many results. Find your article, and click View Record to verify it is the one you are looking for.

8. Return to the list of results and click the check box next to any articles you would like to include in your cited reference search.

9. Click Finish Search.

10. The results screen displays the articles that have cited your selected article(s).


Last Modified: 2017-05-31 16:22:42