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Theory about Citation Tracing

Theory Behind Performing Citation Tracing
•    By tracing citations from a seminal work forward you will see an evolution/growth of the idea and encounter various opposing ideas that are based upon the original.
•    Tracing from the original will allow you to follow the idea through time; you will see generations of publications; the back and forth of academic argumentation.
•    Tracing the first generation, but looking at the most recent publications will allow you to find others who are also going back to source ideas. Their bibliography should be worth consulting.

Journal Impact Factor
Journal Impact Factor, or JIF, is a metric in which journals are ranked due to relative importance based on citation counts. The more a journal is cited the greater its influence. The greater the influence the more it is desired to be publish in. The greater the influence the pickier the editors can be. Typically, based on JIF, entire segments of academics are divided into top-tier, mid-tier and lower-tier journals (sometimes they are labeled as quarters).

Rankings can be found at: Scimago (link is below). This site is more geared toward the STEM disciplines, but can be used in the Arts and Humanities. It can show which journals are the most influential (most citations and citations per article) and let you know how many articles they publish in a year, as well as how many references are used on average in an article.

How To:

How To Perform a Citation Trace For
[a word about Google Scholar. Their database is not exhaustive, it does not include everything published. It does include everything that they could get their hands on (indexes from many publishers and many free publications). It does not include what they couldn’t get their hands on (publishers that didn’t want to work with them and databases that wanted money). The problem is that nowhere is there a list of what Google has and what it doesn’t. Nor does it say how recent it is. Some databases may be updated more frequently and others may not have been updated since 2004 when Google Scholar started.
1 – go to
2 – login using an existing Google account, or create an account if you don’t already have a gmail account.
    The reason to login is, you can save searches in your “library” and you can search within libraries that you have access to.
3 – the first time in Google Scholar, go to <settings> along the top of the first page.
4 – click on <library links> and search for any libraries that you have authorized access to. As a member of the Life Pacific community, you should search for LPC and select the one that reads "Get from LPC". You should ignore the others, they are old and not connected to our current catalog. You may select up to five different catalogs/libraries. When you have selected your libraries, click <save>.
5 – The basic search box is now front and center on your page. Click on the small arrow/dropdown menu at the right of the search box. This will open the “advanced search box.”
6 – Fill in as many of the boxes with the information you have. When you are finished, press the magnifying glass/search button.

This will now present you with the “results list”.

The Results page has a list of filters on the left-hand side. Use them to narrow your search, if that is what you are wanting. To the right of some results are hyperlinks to the item. Some of the links are to free websites that host the article, others to links in library catalogs and databases (this is why you saved your library choices), and still others are to subscription websites and the article is hidden behind a paywall. [note – if it is behind a paywall, get all of the citation information and send it to us. We should be able to get the article through Inter-Library Loan, if we don’t have the item in another database.]

Below the title of each article is a brief citation and abstract. What we want is under the abstract.
•    Cited by – This will tell you how many other articles (only articles) have cited this work. It will only list/cite those that are in the Google Scholar database, so it is not every work that cited the item. Those are the 2nd generation articles.
•    Related articles – This will search for articles that are similar. It is difficult to tell if this is based on subject headings/topic or based on related items in their bibliographies. Google doesn’t tell us that.
•    All x versions – This will present you with different versions of the article if they are available (is it a pdf? html? doc? rtf?)
•    Cite – a handy box will open with the document cited in MLA, APA, Chicago and links to import the citation to BibTeX, EndNote, RefMan and RefWorks.
•    Save – This will “save” the article/citation in your Google Scholar Library for you to use later.
•    Library Search – This will open up WorldCat’s world library catalog. It will then give you the location of several libraries that have that item. The problem is you may not have access to the item or the library. If you note who has the item we may be able to borrow it from them for you.
•    View as HTML – View the item online in a browser page.
And possibly others

How To: ProQuest hosted Databases

How To Perform a Citation Trace For ProQuest hosted databases
1 – go to our library “website” and click on "Resources" tab, found at
2 – under “Databases Available” click on “ProQuest”.  This will take you to the landing page for the ProQuest hosted databases. The default setting is inclusion of all 9 databases. Keep that for this research.
3 – click “Advanced Search” which is found just above the search box. This will present you with the full advanced search page with boxes and limiters.
4 – enter as much detail about the known article as possible.

This will now present you with the “results list”.

The Results page has a list of filters on the right-hand side. Use them to narrow your search, if that is what you are wanting.

After you find the article that you want, click on the title. This will take you to a materials page. Within this page is the citation information, a link to the article itself (if available), an abstract of the article and an informational box on the right. For this technique, the information and links that we want are in the informational box on the right.
•    References – This will present a digital version of the “Works Consulted” page of the article. Handy for finding other resources.
•    Cited by – This will tell you how many other articles (only articles) have cited this work. It will only list/cite those that are in the ProQuest hosted databases, so it is not every work that cited the item. The results would be the 2nd generation articles.
•    Documents with shared references – This presents a list of articles that have some of the same references as the article in questions.
•    See similar documents – This presents a list of articles that have similar subject headings.

Above the title of the material in question is a bar of actions to take
•    Save to My Research – will save the title of this article to a list for later use. If you are not signed in, I don’t believe it will save your search.
•    Email – this will email the abstract and link to the article to whomever you send it to.
•    Print – prints the article in question.
•    Cite – a handy box will open with the document cited in a number of formats. You can chose from about 20 different formats, including MLA, APA, Chicago and Turabian.
•    Export/Save – will export the citation to a number of citation generators or create a citation for use in a document.

Theory and Action - Creating your Reading List/Works Consulted

Starting with a known article/work Citation Tracing will allow you to follow a work and its influence through several generations of publication. The first task is to find the article, the starting point. From there you look for the "cited by" feature. This will list the 2nd generation publications. Not only is that list a list of important works to read, but each of them is possibly cited in other works. Any of the 2nd generation articles may have a "cited by" number listed with it. That link will present 3rd generation articles from your starting point. This chasing/tracing of citations can continue until you run out of citations. For very influential or older articles, that tracing can go through 4 or 5 generations easy. One thing to keep in mind is that typically, the greater number of citations means that the work is more influential than others. Be sure to keep up with the most cited works on your topic.

One issue that should be practically understood; there are rarely citations of works younger than 24 months. One just has to imagine the publication process. One author is published. Another author wishes to respond. Time from reading, researching, writing, editorial/peer review process, to publish is anywhere from 12-36 months, depending on the journal.

It can be useful to arrange the 2nd or 3rd generation articles by date and look at some of the more recent. Those publications may be contemporaries and provide you with more direction in your research; well worth looking at their bibliographies.

This whole process is to present to you as many of the works in your research area as possible. And if possible, to find similar work and ensure that nothing is accidentially left out of your research.

Your goal is publication in journals with the greatest impact. For that you need to be aware of the most influential ideas and be well read in them. You also need to know how many sources you may typically need for a certain publisher (check out the website about JIF).

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