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What is a citation search?
Citation searching is a way of finding relevant research in a field or subject by looking at what an article has referenced and who has since used that article as a reference. For example, you might find a journal article published in 2001. You can do a citation search to find the articles that the 2001 article has referenced, but also find out if anyone has since referenced the 2001 article.
Why do a citation search?
What information do I use?
First you identify a key article, author or book which you are studying or has been referenced in an article you are looking at. By using that resources title or authors name you can conduct a citation search in a database. You are then provided with a list of other articles that have included that article, author or book in their bibliographies, and where, therefore, you can assume some aspect of your subject is discussed.
You are constructing a "web of knowledge" for your subject. You will usually notice that useful articles appear in journals seemingly unrelated to your topic.
How do I do it?
Choose an article or book that will be the target of your search (in publication for at least one or two years). Then locate a database with a citation index. Web of Science, Google Scholar, Academic Search Complete, ScienceDirect, Scopus include citation indexes of their own.
Web of Science
Here is an example from Web of Science search sequence using Jones, J.C. (1980) Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures, 2nd edn, Wiley, as the target book citation:
For a visual guide, see these Web of Science recorded training guides.
Here is an example from Google Scholar search sequence using Jones, J.C. (1980) Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures, 2nd edn, Wiley, as the target book citation: