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Sociology Library Guide

Research Tools for Sociology

What is Citation Searching?

So you have an article in your hands, and you want to see where it fits into the scholarly conversation. What works does this author respond to, and who has responded to this author since the study was published.

Citations are the road map to this published conversation, and tracking the citations backward and forward can help put a study into context, and broaden understanding of the research. 

Here are two citation searching tools that can help!

Google Scholar: Citation Searching

The screenshots below will demonstrate a citation search for the following article:

Bankston, Carl L. 2000. "Spectacles of Ethnicity: Festivals and the Commodification of Ethnic Culture among Louisiana Cajuns." Sociological Spectrum 20 (4): 377-407.

A downloadable pdf of these images is available below.

1. First, go to to locate the article you want to track.  Using the last name and a portion of the article title is a good search strategy.

2. Locate your desired article in the results list. Note the "Cited by ##" link in the lower left of your article entry. Click this to see citing articles.

3. When reviewing your results, remember that Google Scholar will find more than just scholarly books and articles. Watch for unpublished papers, conference proceedings, and even PowerPoint presentations in your results.

Use your evaluating skills to decide what's appropriate for your research.

Web of Science: Citation Searching Demo

A downloadable pdf of these images is available below.

1. First, search for the article you want to track. In the example below, I search by title, but you can also search by author or topic.

2. Select the desired article from the list of results.  Note on the results page that the database already shows how many articles have cited this work.

3. In the right-hand column, use the links to see articles citing the original item (Times Cited), and to view the original item's bibliography (Cited References). Items in the bibliography can also be searched for citations.

4. The Cited References, or bibliography, can be extremely helpful. Take note when a work has been cited hundreds or thousands of times. This may be an indication that the work is central to the field of study, a key theoretical work, or at least work looking at for your own research.

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