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Literature Review: Researching Your Topic

Citation Searching and Subject Searching

There are two basic ways to find information once you start researching your topic:

  • citation searching / chaining
  • subject-specific searching.

Citation Searching or Chaining

Citation searching or chaining involves searching backwards and forwards in time for materials that are cited by and also that cite an article or resource you already have. One resource links you to another, which links you to another, and so on to create a chain of relevant literature.

This is a useful research tactic when you are working on a literature review since it helps you follow chains of related sources.

For example, let's say you've found a relevant article on your topic. You can make a chain of citations leading from that one article both forwards and backwards from the year of publication:

Resources cited in your article

  • will be older than the article
  • will help you identify past resources on the same topic (such as theories or classic articles)


Resources that cite your article

  • will be newer than the article you've already found
  • will help you identify more recent, relevant research


Tip: articles published in the last few years might be too recent to have any other articles citing them. 

Citation Chaining Tools


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