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Research Impact

What is citation searching?

Researchers may wish to know what kind of impact a particular publication has had in its field. Citation (or cited reference) searching is a specialised type of searching that relies on entering the details of a ‘key’ author, journal article or book. It is then possible to retrieve from the database any article that has the original ‘key’ author, article or book cited in the bibliography; this is a way of retrieving previous research.

"Being cited" means that your scholarly publication has been cited by another author; the author refers to your publication within his or her publication and includes the bibliographic citation in the works cited list/bibliography.

Citation searching can be useful for these purposes:

  1. To determine the impact of a work on its field by measuring how often it has been cited by other researchers.
  2. To trace the development of a theory or idea as it is cited by subsequent researchers.
  3. To learn more about a published work by discovering any letters to the editor, responses by other researchers, or even retractions.
  4. To inform future research.

Citation searching databases

It is best to use different databases to try to ensure you are capturing as much information as possible.  You can use the following three databases:

There is no tool that will capture all of the data at once. Each provider that offers bibliometric measures primarily uses its own unique data, journals, authority files, indexes, and subject categories. Potentially, any database with citations could create bibliometric measures.

Web of Science

Web of Science is a multi-disciplinary database which includes the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, the Social Sciences Citation Index, the Science Citation index in one platform. As in the screenshot below, you can see information about a publication such as the number of Citations (where it has been cited by other researchers) and the References  which it quotes in its bibliography.    

Screenshot of a result on Web of Science showing Citations and References






As in the screenshot below, it also has a Cited Reference Search which allows you to search using a particular known author and article.

Screenshot of the Web of Science Cited reference search






Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings.

It covers the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities, Scopus features smart tools to track, analyse and visualise research. You can filter your research results on Scopus by Cited by to see the most heavily cited publications. 

Clicking on a publication title will show you the number of times it has been cited by other authors in their work and also the references contained in its bibliography.

Scopus results screen screenshot

Google Scholar

Google Scholar offers some citation searching.  Search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Perform a search and click on the Cited by link under a result to see items which have cited your original publication.