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Citation indexes

While browsing and serendipitous discovery will yield valuable resources, a more systematic approach to locating information using indexing databases such as citation indexes, will enable you to conduct a more thorough search of the literature. Citation indexes tell us how often a published work, such as a journal article, has been cited or referenced in other published works. They are used to:

  • Find out where research has been cited and by whom
  • Track the research activities of others
  • Analyse the impact of published research
  • Follow the history of an idea and the direction it has taken

An important and unique feature of these citation indexes is the ability to navigate forward as well as backward through the literature. In addition to the 'retrospective paper chase', these indexes allow you to search for articles that cite a known author's work using the cited ref search. By using the cited ref search feature, you can move forward in time in relation to where a particular reference has been cited, thus enabling you to locate more recent, relevant articles. These indexes may also uncover relevant references from other disciplines that you may not otherwise have located.

  • The best known and most widely used collection of citation indexes is the Web of Science (part of the Web of Knowledge) which covers science, the social sciences, and arts and humanities literature.
  • To search this collection effectively you require precise bibliographic details of articles, books, conference proceedings etc.
  • Search the database by author, year or title of a particular work.
  • For assistance in searching refer to the Information for new users link on the Web of Science homepage, or contact your Liaison Librarian.