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Using Citation Trails

Find related information sources by using an article's citation trails, including bibliographies and cited by information.

Search strategies and citation trails

  • When you locate an article in a database that looks like it might be useful to your research, look in the article for a link to a bibliography of materials used in the writing of the article. This bibliography may be called References, Works Cited, Cited References, or something similar.
    • Not all databases include links to bibliographies. If no such link exists, bibliographies can usually be found at the end of the article.
    • Bibliographies contain the cited references that the author/s used when researching and writing the article. Think of them as backwards citation trails.
  • Articles in a database may also include a bibliography of all the articles that have cited the article you found. These may be called Citations, Cited By lists, or something similar. Think of these as forward citation trails.


Here's a brief exercise to help you learn how to use citation trails:

  • Watch the video "Resources on citation trails" (also found in the tab on the left)
  • Search in Web of Science for the following citation:
    Reiter, M. E., Elliott, M. K., Jongsomjit, D., Golet, G. H., & Reynolds, M. K. (2018). Impact of extreme drought and incentive programs on flooded agriculture and wetlands in California's Central Valley. PeerJ, 6.  doi: 10.7717/peerj.5147
  • Examine the article record in Web of Science closely.
    • How many citations does this article have?
    • How many references does this article have?
    • Find a related article in the citation list. How many references and citations does that article have?
  • And now that you know what citation trails are and how to use them, take the quiz on the next tab!