Brandel Library

Conducting a Literature Review

Citation Chaining

What is Citation Chaining?

Citation chaining means you look for the materials backwards and forwards that are cited by and also that cite an article or resource you already have. One resource links you to another which links you to another to create a chain of relevant literature. This is a useful research technique when you are working on a literature review.

Citation Searching

Lists of works cited are the core of research. Scholarship is a conversation and citations are the thread of that conversation. There are two dimensions to working with citations:

1) Backward citation searching  (What sources did the author use when writing this piece?)

The list of works cited by a scholar gives you a snapshot of the thinking and research available at the time the research was published. It tells you what sources, ideas, theories have shaped and influenced a researcher. Looking at the list of all sources cited by an author is called "backward citation searching".

2) Forward citation searching  (Who did this author's idea impact? What sources used this work later?)

Finding out whether an article was cited by authors after its publication will help you assess the importance of that article and how it has shaped subsequent research and scholarship.  This is called "forward citation searching".  Some databases include information about who cited a particular reference.  Look for "Cited by" or "Times Cited" features. You can also use Google Scholar.

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Forward Citation Searching

Use Google Scholar as a resource for citation searching, search for the title of the book or article.  Choose the Cited by link.   The resulting list will include articles and websites that cite the original work as well as books scanned through the Google Books project.

Google Scholar Search

Backward Citation Searching

Check the list of works cited to find relevant articles.  Use our Find a specific journal by title search tool to find out if we have a copy of the article. If we don’t have access to the full-text of the journal, you can request a copy of the article through our Interlibrary Loan service.