Okay, so you have started the literature review process for your postgraduate dissertation. But what’s next now? How will you find more stuff to be used in your dissertation? How will you maximise the chances of finding super useful material systematically? We will tell you how! Citation searching and bibliographic mining are two literature research strategies to do it! 


This article will provide you with a thorough insight into the following matters: 

  1. Definition of citation mining plus forward and backward citation searching
  2. Deciding if citation searching is a useful literature research strategy for you
  3. The comparison and contrast of citation mining strategies for different applications 

Keyword searching is yet another way to locate the best sources for your research. The other way is the citation search. On a clear note: 

  1. Citation searching and forward searching is synonymous. 
  2. Bibliographic mining and backward searching mean the same thing. 

When to Search for Citations? 

Citation searching is particularly helpful when you want to perform analysis of the existing literature in a way that keyword or subject searching doesn’t allow generally. For example, when you are exploring a new domain of study or reviewing the existing literature on a research area, citation searching will prove beneficial. It’s helpful for the following reasons: 

  • To collect the relevant data quickly
  • Sorting out suitable and helpful keywords for future searches
  • Citing the work, knowledge and research of the original writer (it saves you time)
  • Mapping out the scholarly discussion in a particular field of research

Limitations of Citation Searching

Although citation searching is highly useful, it also has certain limitations. Some of them are listed below: 

  • Citation search engines usually tend to scholarly articles and may skip popular media or books written on the subject of your research
  • Self-citing or simply citing each other will lead to poor citation ethics, and it leaves behind a stagnant pool of knowledge 
  • Citation searching alone won’t help if you want to sort out cross-disciplinary/inter-disciplinary information topics. You’ll need to take the help of keyword searches in this regard! 

Basic Definitions

Before providing a detailed insight into the process of citation searching and bibliographic mining, let’s briefly define these terms.

Citation Searching: 

Expert searchers use this term to describe the process of using citations when they locate additional articles related to a research topic. It is highly beneficial to find the literature relevant to your topic from existing literature on your research area! 

Forward Citation Search: 

Forward Citation Search refers to the process of finding all the articles which cite back to a certain, specific article. This search foresees the contribution of the said article to the scholarly conversation. 

Backward Citation Search: 

Backward Citation Search refers to the process of all the cited references in a single, individual article. It looks back in time to analyse what led you to the article you will work on.

Author Citation Search: 

This search refers to the process of finding all the articles by an author or a group of authors. 

Databases Used for Citation Searching & Bibliographic Mining

Some databases can prove helpful during your search process; however, not all support forward or backward citation searches. The helpful databases are the following: 

  1. Google Scholar
  2. Web of Science
  3. IEEExplore
  4. SocINDEX (EBSCOhost)

Let’s explore the working process and efficiency of the first two citation search engines! 

Google Scholar

You can do citation searching and author citation searching easily using Google Scholar. Let’s see how it’s done! 

Forward Citation Search: 

Follow these steps to perform this search in Google Scholar: 

  1. Enter the title of your article into the search bar.
  2. In the search results, you will notice a link saying ‘cited by 123’ (written underneath the search results) 
  3. Click on that link, and you’ll see a list of articles that cite back to the article you are searching.

After clicking on the ‘cited by 123’ link, you can also perform a further keyword search by unchecking the box which says: ‘search within citing articles’. 

Author Citation Search:

For this sort of search, type the author’s name in the search box, and you’ll be presented with a list of articles by the same author! 

Web of Science

This search engine offers a variety of pathways to perform any kind of citation search. You will be able to get forward citation articles by using the ‘cited reference search’ or get all the forward/backward citations by selecting the preferred citation search mode for your article.

Article Records:

This citation search mode will prove particularly helpful when you want to go through both the forward and backward looking citations on a single screen. Perform the following steps to get to the outcome: 

  • While searching, use the ‘basic search’ mode for the article title.
  • After this, choose the correct and appropriate from the search results.  

On the screen’s right side, you will see the linked cited references under the citation network icon.

Cited Reference Search: 

If you want to get all the forward looking citations for a specific article, choose this citation search method. It can also be used to curate all the cited references for a single author. Basically, it’s a two-step search. 

  1. In the first step, you will have to enter the information available about the citation into the form.
  2. After it, the screen will ask you to choose potential variations (displayed in the system results) so that the correctness of the article gets confirmed. 

Author Search: 

Author search is a relatively new feature in Web of Science which creates an automated list of all an author’s articles. You will need to click on the ‘author search’ tab and enter the author’s name in the relevant boxes. After it, a second screen will be opened where you will be presented with all the variations of the given name in the Web of Science. After you confirm the entire list, a new screen will open, showing you the list of all the articles with the name of your selected author. 

It’s usually a time-taking process and becomes tedious over time. Hiring any agency which provides dissertation help UK, can save you a lot of time and trouble sifting through many articles available online!

Bottom Line

It’s recommended to keep track of your searches; otherwise, when writing a literature review, you’ll be bothered about the questions like, ‘did I perform a citation search on this or not?’ You can create a source record sheet in a word document for the said purpose. If you find the whole process difficult, you can also consider buying a dissertation online in the UK!

Read more: 9 Tips for Beginners in Motion Graphics

By Veena

She has 7 years of experience writing about technology, education and business. Her experience in the tech industry (Fieldengineer, wowtechub, Tech360d, Techinfobeez) has taught her how to write engaging, informative content that makes complex issues accessible to a wide audience. Follow her on LinkedIn

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