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Education - Doing a Literature Review

Citation Mining

When you've found relevant and useful resources, use citation mining (sometimes called "following a citation trail") to discover more.

  • Look at the reference lists in resources you've already found to discover the sources those authors used.
  • Find out who has cited the sources that you find most relevant.

Cited reference searching is available in many databases that index as well as Google Scholar.  Cited reference searching is the ability to search for other articles that cite a certain article.


Cited reference searching should have a search strategy broad enough to allow for the following pitfalls.

  • Search results depend on the content in the database. If a journal that cited a particular work is not indexed by the database, then a reference to your work will not appear in your search results. Check to see which databases index journals that cover your topic.
  • Search all permutations of the cited author's name: last name; last name and first initial; last name, first and middle initials.
  • For some articles, only the first author may be indexed. If someone is the second or third author, remember you should also search by the lead author to locate the cited references.
  • Journals use different formats for articles cited. Beware of inconsistency in citation format such as misspellings, incorrect years or volume numbers. Citation databases and indexes are minimally edited.
  • Cited reference searching works best for references to periodical articles. 
  • If you locate only a few or no cited references to an article, consider whether the research may be too recent.

Our library guide on "Databases that track citations: measuring research impact" will guide you through the process.