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4) Find Journal Articles: Cited Reference Searching & Journal Impact Factors

A University of Lethbridge Library guide to finding journal articles.

Cited Reference Searching

Cited references are the articles, books or other materials listed in a bibliography or as works cited in a particular publication. Because citation databases index each reference, it is possible to search these cited references. One can follow a particular cited reference, or cited author, forward in time to find more current articles that have also cited that author or work.

Why use cited reference searching?

  • To locate current research based on earlier research
  • To find out how many times and where a publication is being cited
  • To find out who is citing a particular paper
  • To find out how a particular research topic is being used to support other research
  • To track the history of a research idea
  • To track the research history of a researcher
  • To determine how well your own published research is cited for promotion/tenure considerations

What resources offer cited reference searching?

Many online resources offer cited reference searching; examples are:

Web of Science
The most comprehensive source for cited reference searching. Despite its name, it covers all disciplines.

Academic Search Complete  

Look for the Times Cited in this Database link in your results list or begin your search by clicking on the Cited References link above the search form.

SportDiscus

Look for the Times Cited in this Database link in your results list or begin your search by clicking on the Cited References link above the search form.

Google Scholar

Look for the Cited By link in your results list.

This list does not list all of the databases which link to citing articles; look at the record within the database you are working, and the functionality may be there as well.

Journal Impact Factors

An Impact factor is defined as a quantitative measure of the frequency with which the 'average article' published in a given scholarly journal has been cited in a particular year or period; thus the impact factor is a measure for the relative importance of a scholarly journal within its field. 

The Journal Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the number of citations in a given year by the total number of articles published in the previous two years.

Impact factor is a rough indicator of the relative importance of a scholarly journal within its field. However, evaluating journals is not an exact science. It is important to remember that high quality articles may be published in low impact journals, and vice versa. Different subject areas also have different valuations of impact factors.

Where do I find the most cited journals in my field and their impact factors?

Journal Citation Reports, published by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), are a source for impact factors of research journals:

Journal Citation Reports (Science Edition)

Journal Citation Reports (Social Sciences Edition)

For additional information about journal impact factors and a guide to using the resources, refer to ISI's Journal Citation Reports Tutorial           

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