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Cited References: How Do I Find Who Cited an Article or Book?

About This Guide

An important aspect of doing research is tracking references cited by authors of articles and books. This is not always an easy task and this guide outlines the cited reference capabilities of a number of databases in the BU library collections.


There are a number of sources that provide cited references to articles and books. The primary source for journal citations has been the Web of Science database which comprises Arts & Humanities Citation Index; Social Sciences Citation Index; Science Citation Index Expanded; Conference Proceedings Citation Index-Science; and Conference Proceedings Citation Index-Social Science & Humanities.  Over 12,000 journals are indexed in the Web of Science.

Because of the large number of publications indexed and because of the multidisciplinary coverage, this database is still the first place to look for cited references for journal articles. There are also citations to books but the coverage is not as extensive as for journals. In recent years, other databases have begun providing cited references search capabilities within their databases and some of these provide better access to cited references to books than one presently finds in Web of Science. However, the publishers of Web of Science added Book Citation Index to the compilation of citation indexes in the fall of  2011 and they plan to add 10,000 books each year.

This guide lists some of the major databases, including Web of Science, that offer cited references searching and provides brief instructions about how to conduct a cited references search within each database. Web of Science is listed first because of its importance and the other databases are listed in alphabetical order.

Several important databases, including Sociological Abstracts and Worldwide Political Science Abstracts,  are not in the alphabetical list because Cited By links are included below the article citations in these Proquest databases when those articles have been cited by others.

Please remember that citation styles (MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, APA, etc.) determine how a citation is indexed so it is important to input author’s names in a variety of ways (Strauss, Gerald; Strauss, G.; Strauss, G*) in order to pick up citations to an author’s work. Some databases give very specific instructions regarding the input of an author’s name and some provide author indexes to facilitate the search. Because many names are identical or similar, it is important to make the search as specific as possible (include titles of articles or books, dates, sources, etc.).

The Concept of Citation


Meredith Kirkpatrick's picture
Meredith Kirkpatrick
Mugar Library
771 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215