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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Advanced Library Search Strategies

Learn how to search for articles, books, and other scholarly works through citation chasing and optimal keyword searching. This guide accompanies the Savvy Researcher workshop, "Advanced Library Search Strategies."

What is citation chasing?

Citation chasing refers to the process of retracing the research of an author. This is a way of finding targeted, relevant research. It can be done by accessing an article or work's Works Cited, References, or Bibliography.

Cited reference searching (or "forward" citation chasing) refers to the method of finding articles that have cited a previously published work. Cited reference searching can be done in databases that index citation, like Web of Science and Scopus.

This method of tracking citations is simply another way of searching databases to find relevant sources and articles. Citation chasing and cited reference searching, however, has many purposes.

  • Citation chasing can help you become more familiar with themes in your research area that span different time periods, researchers, and disciplines.
  • The method of using cited references and bibliographies to guide your search process prompts you to read and engage with research that is already in conversation with researchers in the discipline. Therefore, citation chasing can answer some of the following questions:
    • What authors and researchers are being impacted by this article/research?
    • How does this article/research fit within the larger context of the research area I am pursuing?

Methods for Citation Chasing

  • Citation indexing databases like Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar allow users to see research that has cited a given article (forward citation chasing).
  • Using the Works Cited or References section of an important article or book to find other sources related to your research topic. Most databases keep a list of sources the displayed article cites.

Citation Chasing Resources