Tracking Citations
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Scholarly conversation

When you read a research article or other academic source, you are entering a scholarly conversation. Ideas and new knowledge are developed, converge, diverge, complement each other, and are continually built upon. This conversation is ongoing; it’s important to recognize that you’re entering it at a certain point in time.


What does a scholarly conversation have to do with citation searching?

The topics and insights presented in one research paper, or other scholarly source, build upon the earlier ideas of others. After publication, a paper will most likely be cited by other scholars. These citations eventually form a web you can follow to explore connections between sources, authors, and ideas.

When you engage in citation searching you can locate additional sources on your research topic, identify patterns and gaps in the literature, and find significant articles and authors. You can track citations back in time (works that the original article cites) and forward in time (works that cite the original article).

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Tools for citation searching

Several library-subscribed databases provide options for tracking citations backwards and forwards (for example ScienceDirectPsycInfo, and JSTOR). These databases track the number of times that a particular article has been cited only in that respective database.

Google Scholar also offers ways to track citations. As with the databases noted above, “Cited by” counts in Google Scholar only come from the Google Scholar index.

For more comprehensive citation searching the standard tools are citation indexes. The main citation indexes that the library subscribes to are Web of Science and Scopus. Keep in mind that these indexes, too, compile the number of citations based on the coverage of the index. You may find different citation counts when you search different databases. In addition to citation searching both Web of Science and Scopus include options for identifying highly-cited papers and authors and for tracking, analysing, and visualizing search results.

While Web of Science and Scopus offer powerful options for tracking citations, they do not always include the full-text of an article. Be sure to use the Find it @ NTU button if you need to retrieve the full-text of an article that isn’t available in a database.   

Find it @NTU button

Tracking Citations backwards and forwards

Web of Science

Once you have the citation of a paper search by the title in the Basic Search box and choose Title from the drop-down menu. You may need to add another Field and the author’s (one of the author’s) surname as well. You can also use this search when you do not already have a citation and need to do a keyword search to begin finding papers on your topic.

After you find title that you need, click on it. You will be directed to the record for the title. On the right-hand side of the page, under Citation Network, you will see the number of Times Cited (forward) and Cited References (backward).

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When you click on one of these links you will be directed to the corresponding list of references and will be able to link to the full-text of the paper or use the Find it @NTU button for other access options.

You also have the option to do Cited Reference Search to immediately find articles that have cited your original article by selecting the “Cited Reference Search” option under the “Basic Search” and entering the needed information. The results that you retrieve will be the articles that cite the original article (i.e. citing articles).

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Tip! There is also a great tool in Web of Science that allows you to generate a citation map. A citation map is a graphical representation that shows relationships (cited references and citing articles = backwards and forwards) between your original paper that you select and other papers. You can view the relationships between authors, journal titles, and more. Select “View Citation Map” on the right-hand side of the article record to get started. 

wos-citation-map-28wirf0See the online tutorial on using the citation map to view examples and learn more: https://youtu.be/Qr8wQnTHMMg


Once you have the title of a paper, search by the title, or part of the title, in the default search box, which is set to “Document Search.” As with Web of Science, you can also do a keyword search from the basic search screen to begin finding papers on a topic.

After you find the title that you need, click on it. You will be directed to record for the item. You will see a link almost in the middle of the page where you can access works from the bibliography of the paper (“View references”); these are the cited references. There is a link on the left-hand side of the page where you can view citing papers (“View all citing documents”).


When you click on one of these links you will be directed to the corresponding list of references and will be able to link to the full-text of the paper or use the Find it @NTU button for other access options.

Tip! Scopus provides tools for you to analyse search results, like citing references, that compare documents published in a year, sources, authors, and more! Select the link to “Analyze search results” from a results list to access these tools. 


Learn more strategies for citation searching


Both Web of Science and Scopus offer many powerful tools to explore, compare, measure, and track research output. By using them you can also identify seminal articles, influential authors, and more! This guide only focuses on citation searching; there’s so much more to do to engage in the scholarly conversation! See the following guides and tutorials from Web of Science and Scopus to learn more about these powerful databases and how to use them to your advantage: