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Searching Cited References

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ReferencesWhat are cited references?

Articles, books and other resources listed in a Bibliography or "Works Cited" list, or "References" list (example at right).

Why are cited references important?

Locating cited references is useful for finding current articles on a topic, identifying the top researchers in a field, and for tenure decisions.

How can I find who has cited a specific author or work?

Cited reference searching is available in indexes such as CINAHL, Communication and Mass Media Index, Sociological Abstracts, Elsevier Science Direct as well as many full-text searchable databases. Any full-text database may offer the possibility of retrieving items cited in the bibliography that match the search strategy keywords. The Oviatt Library also has access to ISI Web of Science.  Free resources are available on the Web:

  • Google Scholar: a free web search engine, also helps identify cited references in open access journal articles and on websites. Read more About Google Scholar and details of searching cited references
  • Google Books: a free web search engine, is a growing collection of scanned online books


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.

Search Tips for Specific Databases with Cited Reference Searching

Jump to:

EbscoHost Platform (includes CINAHL, Communication and Mass Media Index with full text (CMMI))

Sociological Abstracts on CSA platform

Sage supported searching the references and, if the article is published by Sage, it provides links to citing articles.

Google Scholar a free web search engine, also helps identify cited references in open access journal articles and on websites

Indirect Cited References

Search for the author and/or title in the collection

EBSCO platform

CINAHL (on EbscoHost), PsycINFO (on EbscoHost ), and Communication and Mass Media Index (CMMI) on EbscoHost

EbscoHost help for cited references

To search cited references, select the pull down menu under "More" for "Cited References" link on the toolbar of CINAHL:

Cited Reference Link under More

To search cited references, click the Cited References button, visible in both Basic and Advanced Search tabs in PsycINFO and CMMI.

PsycInfo Cited References button


Search by Cited Author, Cited Source, Cited Title, Cited Date, or All Citation Fields. Use the format Lastname Initial Initial when searching by Cited Author.

PsycInfo Search box for cited author

  1. In the results screen, check boxes next to selected articles and click the Find Citing Articles button to view a list of sources that cite them.
  2. In the "Citing Articles" screen, click the Cited References link to view all the references given in a specific citing article.

Sociological Abstracts (CSA)

(link to Sociological Abstracts)

  1. Set the field chooser on the far right to References, RE= and type in the author name(s) and/or title for which you wish to find citations.
    Sample CSA Search screen
  2. Click on individual items in the results list to view references citing the author or title you searched. Click the "Cited by [NUMBER]" link next to the citation to find more articles containing that citation.
    list of references also pick up the Cited by [number]


(link to ScienceDirect)

Using the advance search option (link on the far right hand side of the search boxes, search within References to locate journal articles that have cited an article, patent or conference paper. For some articles published by Elsevier Group, use the Cited by link in the full record display to locate newer article(s) that have cited that article. This feature is an exact word match in the reference list of each article. The result of this search is heavily dependent that the reference is entered identically into the database. It is important to try all possible formats. To begin, click on All Sources then search the References.

Elsevier Search References

Reference Search Results

or alternatively,

Search for a known article by author and/or title. Select the title to view the abstract and related information. The "Cite by" information box will be on the right hand side of the displayed page.


(link to Emerald)

Emerald provides "Cited by" information in the abstract view for an article. A reference may be discovered through a keyword search.

Emerald screenshot of cited by


(link to Sage)

Sage provides a search of references. Abstracts for articles published in the Sage journal collection provide citation information for articles which cite the publication in question at the bottom of the page. on the left hand side, links to finding citing articles through other resources

Sage Cited by choices

If the article is published in Sage journals, it provides a powerful "Cited by" option.

Google Scholar

(link to Google Scholar)

It is more precise to use the advanced search option. Publisher citation searching, SCOPUS, an ISI Web of Science database or Google will generate different results based on their knowledge base. The JSTOR example above shows that the JSTOR knowledge database knows of 12 citations. Google Scholar knows of 238.


Google Citation Retrieval for CL Costin


SciFinder Scholar's Chemical Abstracts

(link to SciFinder Web )

Search by author, title, etc. From the list of search results, select the reference(s) you want to trace.

Searching SciFinder Author

SciFInder Retrieval

Click the Citing References link


PubMed Central (PMC)

(link to PubMed Central (PMC))

PubMed Central (PMC) is a full-text database. To search for references cited in the full text articles,

  1. Select PMC in the drop-down databases menu next to the main search box.
  2. Click the Preview/Index tab, then set the drop down "search field" menu to Reference or Reference Author.
  3. Type search terms in the adjacent text box (for author, type author’s last name first initial(s)) and click the Preview button. Preview will display the search strategy in the main search box and link its retrieval under the "Most Recent Queries" section of the page. You can add multiple terms to a single search by clicking the AND, OR, or NOT buttons.
  4. Click the Go button in the main search box to view the search results.

Example: PMC search for Reference Author pauling l AND Reference vitamin c:

You cannot search cited references in PubMed directly, but you can find citations and citing articles available in PMC.


(link to JSTOR)

Keyword search will retrieve author's name in the references as well as the full text article the author has written. A link will take you to the page scan of the article. On this page, boxes on the right hand side will show the number of articles that cite the author's work in JSTOR and in a separate box, it will provide a link to Google Scholar.

JSTOR screenshot of Cited by

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