EBSCO DatabasesJSTOROvid databasesProQuest
Google ScholarWeb of Science (social sciences and humanities, too)
Journal Citation Reports - Impact Factors and RankingsH-Index
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Cited Reference Searching & Journal Rankings  

How to locate articles and other documents that have cited a previously published document. Also how to determine where a journal is ranked in relation to others in its field.
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2014 URL: http://libguides.marquette.edu/citedref Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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What is cited reference searching?

A cited reference search identifies articles and other resources that have cited a previously published work in the bibliography.  In some databases cited reference searching identifies articles that make reference to and/or include an illustration of a work of art, a music score, letters and diaries, or other primary resources (implicit citations in Web of Science.) Use cited reference searching to:

  • to determine who has cited specific papers or authors
  • to discover how an idea or innovation has been confirmed, applied, corrected, or developed over time
  • to identify seminal papers
  • to identify other researchers with common interests
  • as a means of assessing the impact of an individual's publications for purposes of promotion and tenure
  • as an indicator of a publication's influence.

General Search Tips

No single source will locate all citing sources  You should use multiple databases.

  • Web of Science and Google Scholar are the most comprehensive and recommended for all cited reference searches.
  • Discipline oriented databases may located additional citing references.
  • Works cited in book chapters are not as well covered as works cited in journal articles.

Not every database includes citing/cited reference information, those that do will have some overlap.

  • Use the tabs in this guide to identify the best databases for your discipline.
  • Import/export citing references into a bibliographic manager like RefWorks or EndNote, a spread sheet or Word document to compare for duplicates.
  • Compare/merge the results to eliminate duplicate cites to the same article.

Begin with complete and accurate information. 

  • If searching for citations to all works of an author: complete first, last and middle name or initial, including co-authors.
  • If searching for citations to a specific publication: authors’ name(s), the full journal title, year, volume, issue, pages and article title.

You are searching the ‘References’ portion of an article, book chapter, etc. which follow various citation styles and with occasional errors in spelling and numbers.  Look for:

  • variations of author’s name, coauthor names
  • variations on journal titles & abbreviations
  • variations in year, volume, page numbers

    Where to Search - The Big Two +

    Every cited reference search should include these two sources: Web of Science and Google Scholar.  Uncluding all disciplines, these two sources are the most comprehensive in their coverage.

    Web of Science: provides interdisciplinary coverage of almost 12,000 high impact journals from around the world.  Marquette's subscription covers 1980 to the present.  For articles written before 1980, you can find out the number of citing articles but you can only view the records of those published after 1979. Web of Science includes three citation indexes:

    • Science Citation Index Expanded,
    • Social Sciences Citation Index, and
    • Arts & Humanities Citation Index.

    Google Scholar: search for journal articles, books, theses, abstracts, and court opinions in a number of disciplines. Sources include academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, and university web sites. Many references include a Cited by link that identifies other resources that cite a particular paper. Note that Google Scholar may include more than one version of articles, some of which may be preliminary, and there are likely to be duplicates in the cited by references for individual papers.

    In addition to these two major sources, a few other fairly comprehensive sources can also be used to search for citing documents.

    For more information instructions on how to search these databases use The Big Two + tab


    Where to Search - Discipline Sources

    Many discipline oriented databases offer cited reference searching and should be used in conjunction with The Big Two.  These sources are identified on the broad discipline oriented tabs at the top of this Guide.  Remember that research from one field may have relevance to and be cited in research in other fields.  View these tabs for descriptions of databases in various disciplines:

    The Big Two - Interdisciplinary Sources everyone should use.

    Humanities Sources

    Science/Technology/Engineering/Medicine Sources

    Social Science Sources


    Promotion & Tenure Advice

    This is a complex, labor-intensive process so allow plenty of time. This guide provides best practices and techniques to maximize search results and efficiency but a Research Consultation with a librarian can provide additional guidance.  

    • It is impossible to get a complete, accurate count of citing references.
    • Errors in citations are common, therefore many ‘variant’ references occur.  It is difficult to track them all down.
    • Citation styles vary by publisher, search for different forms of author name and journal title.
    • You'll reach a point of diminishing returns for your efforts.


    • Ask about your unit's P&T committee's--as well as the University committee's--stance on counting self-citations.
    • Be aware of what resources your department and Marquette are willing to consider, e.g., does SCImago have credibility?  SCImago covers more journals, e.g. ~2x in dentistry, they can be useful for journal ranking info with their SJR.  They use a different formula than Journal Citation Reports so the two used in combination may give a better overall sense of a journal's influence.

    Resource limitations

    • No resource covers all citing sources; they only track what they track.
    • Many subject databases have only recently begun to include/track reference lists thus may only include more recent citations to older publications.
    • Some types of publications are not well covered:  books, conference proceedings, and dissertations.  This refers to both the original and citing documents.
    • CAUTION: Be careful not to count the same citing publication more than once; the same citing publications will likely be found in more than one source.  Creating a bibliography of all citing documents in RefWorks, EndNote or similar software is useful for removing duplicates.  It is certainly possible that a publication cites two of your publications so proceed with caution.
    • Different strategies must be used for different resources. We provide step-by-step instructions in this guide.



    Our Services to Faculty in Support of Promotion & Tenure

    Librarians are available to provide training to faculty and/or their student assistants in measuring the impact of their research.  Contact your subject librarian to make an appointment to:

    • Identify and learn to use the best databases for cited reference searching in your field;
    • Determine journal impact factors and journal rankings by subject category;
    • Explore H-Index and other metrics for evaluating the impact of research;
    • Discover the problems and pitfalls of the process.

    You can also make follow-up appointments if needed.

    Raynor Memorial Libraries | 1355 W Wisconsin Avenue | Milwaukee WI 53233 | (414) 288-7556 Info Desk
    © 2013 Marquette University


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