Thousands of articles are published in research journals every year. You may search for articles in your research area by subject searching – using databases or indexes to find articles on your topic through keyword or subject term searching.
Or … When you have identified an article that is especially relevant to your research, you may search for articles whose authors have cited that particular article. These citations provide a very close subject link I.e. An author only cites another article if the research is closely related. For example, using the Web of Science Core Collection, the article
“Polarization of the pyridine ring: highly functionalized piperidines from tungsten-pyridine complex” in Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2010, 132 (48) pp 17282-17295
contains 34 references (the bibliography) to older articles (cited references) but had also been cited 22 times (times cited) by August 2018. These 22 citations were published after 2010 -- pulling the subject-related citations forward in time.
Cited references (older than 2010) = 34
Times cited (more recent than 2010) = 22
They are useful for finding current articles on a topic.
The references at the end of a research article have been used by the author to support his research – they are necessarily older than the article. Articles citing that research bring the research forward in time - they are younger than the original article.
They help identify the top researchers in a field.
They may reveal not only the authors but which institutions and labs have been the most cited for research.
They may be used to gauge the influence of scholarly authors, articles, and journals.
Citing references may reveal how useful research has been to the academic community, affecting tenure decisions and funding decisions.
A citation index is an index of citations between publications, allowing the user to easily establish which later documents cite which earlier documents.
In 1960, Eugene Garfield's Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) introduced the first citation index for papers published in academic journals, starting with the Science Citation Index (SCI), and later expanding to produce the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI). The three citation indexes are now available electronically as Web of Science. The importance of citation indexing is now recognized by the humanities and social sciences as well as the life and physical sciences and more and more databases have begun citation linking.
Electronic sources for citation searching in the sciences available at UR include:
Some tips for using citation linking:
Journal Coverage – If a journal that cited your article is not indexed by the database, that citation will not appear. Check to see which databases index journals that cover your topic. You may need to try multiple databases for cross-disciplinary fields.
Publication Date – Your journal article may have been published too recently for other authors to cite the work. Although many scientific articles are published quickly, there is still a significant peer-review and publishing lag time.
Author Name Permutations – Search as many variables as possible.
Primary & Secondary Authors – Some databases index only the first author. If you are searching for articles citing a particular author, you may need to identify the first author(s) for some articles.
Database Inaccuracies – Citation databases are often minimally edited. Be aware of inconsistencies in spelling, years, and volume numbers.
While citation indexes were originally designed for information retrieval purposes, they are increasingly used for bibliometrics and other studies involving research evaluation. Citation data is also the basis of the popular journal impact factor.
To learn more about impact factors, check out the library's research guide on Impact Factors.