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Cited Reference Searching: Home

A quick guide to introduce running cited reference searches.

Citation searching uses one relevant publication to locate others, by exploring the list of references at the end of the publication in the bibliography (going back in time and reading what the authors read to inform the article), and by exploring other publications that cite your reference (going forward in time and reading subsequent publications that listed your reference in their bibliography). 

This type of search is often done in addition to standard database searching, to increase the recall of all the relevant literature. However, this method should not be used in isolation when searching for evidence as large amounts of information could be missed.

The main advantage of citation searching is that you can follow a line of scholarly communication on a given topic over time, by going backward and forward from a seed reference.

You may also be able to gauge the impact of a publication by looking at the citation count, the logic being that articles that are frequently cited have had greater impact or influence in the scientific community (though of course there will be exceptions to this).

Citation searching can turn up publications that were not found via standard database searches because you are not constrained by the vocabulary of a search strategy or bibliographic record. You may also find articles from unexpected disciplines.

First you identify a key article, author or book of relevance to your research (ideally in publication for at least one or two years). The chosen article, book or author will be the target of your search. By using that resource's title or author's name you can conduct a citation search in databases such as Web of Science and Scopus, or in Google Scholar.

Cited Reference Searching

In this example we are looking at the articles that have cited Chang et al. (2016), Effect of climate change, CO2 trends, nitrogen addition, and land-cover and management intensity changes on the carbon balance of European grasslands, Global Change Biology in Web of Science.  

To perform a search you will need to:

  1. Enter the first author’s name in the Cited Author field e.g. Ciais, P

  2. Enter a journal or book title in the Cited Work field e.g. the journal global change biology

  3. Entering a year is optional. Omit the Cited Year(s) field initially, in order to retrieve a maximum amount of variations.  If you get too many results, enter the year(s) to refine relevant records.e.g. 2016

  1.  Clicking Search will return entries from the Cited Reference Index that include the cited author/work combination entered.   

  1. Select the references that are relevant to your search.

  2. Click finish search to go to the results page.


*** New feature *** Enriched Cited References 

The feature provides additional context that is designed to capture the author's intent when citing references in the body of their article including: 

  • How many times a reference was cited within the article to help you assess how impactful it was to the author,
  • What references are cited in proximity to help you know which references are most related, 
  • Where in the body of the article it was coted so that you know why the reference might have been citied. 

This feature has only been applied to recent records, therefore, it is not available for all content on Web of Science. 

In this example we are looking at the articles that have cited Omer (2008), Green energies and the environment, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews in Scopus.

  1. Enter the keywords "clean energy" OR "green energy" leaving the search fields as Article title, Abstract, keywords.
  2. Add a second search field, enter A.M. Omer and select Authors from the drop-down menus. 


  1. Select the year 2008 using the refine results filter to find the article required. As you can see it has been cited many times. 


  1. If you click on the number it will show all the documents citing this article, highlighting the most recent research first. The analyze results option allows you to see the documents types, years of publication, and more.


In this example we are looking at resources that have cited the book Romm (2017) climate change: what everyone needs to know in Google Scholar.

  1. Search for the text you are interested in e.g. Romm Climate Change what everyone needs to know.
  2. Under the entry for that text, follow the Cited by [number of citations] link.
  3. This presents you with a list of other texts that have cited the text you specified for you to explore.



Overton is the world’s largest searchable and curated policy database. Its mission is to help users find, understand, and measure their influence on government policy.

It tracks a wide range of policy documents such as white papers, working papers, government guidance, think tank policy briefs and national clinical guidelines, and indexes and organises these materials to support analysis via key terms / topic / themes.

It also maps connections between these documents and scholarly research and news content to see where ideas, papers, reports and staff are being cited or mentioned.

Use powerful filters to see policy from specific countries or from government sources only, or filter by any think tank, publisher, journal or institution.

For example you can use Overton to ...

  • See all of the policy citing research from an institution.

  • Discover how researchers are engaging with policy, through publications and in person.

  • Organise policy by Sustainable Development Goal, topic, year and more.

This database enables researchers to track the impact of their own work on policy as well as investigate the dynamics of global policy making. 

The content in this database is not discoverable via the University's Library Search service.

Watch this short introductory video to learn more about Overton.


Use the online Getting started guide to help get you up and running with the service.

More detailed online support is available via the Overton Knowledge Base  where you can browse or search online for guidance.

You can also use the Support area to join an online chat or submit an online form to request further information from the Overton team.

Sign up to Overton’s monthly newsletter, which contains new features and other useful information for users.

If you need further help to use Overton, just get in touch with your liaison librarian.


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