Searching the Citation Indexes (Web of Science)


The Web of Science is composed of three indexes: Science Citation Index (1900- ), Social Sciences Citation Index (1956- ), Arts and Humanities Citation Index (1975- ). All are accessible as Citation Indexes / Web of Science in the E-Research section of Harvard Libraries:

Each index contains many thousands of records of individual periodical articles (not books). The bibliography and/or footnotes for each article is included and can be searched via a Cited Reference search for a chosen author or work. These indexes allow you to start with an article or book of interest and find more recent articles (not books) that have cited it.

The Search screen allows searches by author, topic (includes article title, subject keywords, abstract), periodical title, author's address, publication year.

The Cited Reference Search searches the bibliographies of the articles in the database. A list of matching references is then displayed. Selecting one or more of these references provides linkage to the full citation of the citing article via the <Finish Search> button.

The indexed journals are listed by subject categories in the Master Journal List.

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Some Searching Conventions

  • Authors are searched with initials only, e.g., Gould SJ. If you are uncertain of the middle initial, truncate: Gould s*.
  • Titles of foreign-language publications are translated into English and so cannot be found by searches in the original language.

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The Search screen searches author, topic (includes article title, subject keywords, abstract), periodical title, author's address (available, 1966- ), publication year. It may be used to find:

  • Known articles by author or title.
  • A list of a person's articles (no books or essays in books)
  • Articles on a chosen subject by searching for keywords in titles and abstracts. Link words with <and>, adjacent words are treated as a phrase.
  • All articles emanating from a given institution (author's address search). Available since 1966.
  • Book reviews (Document type restriction available)
  • Obituaries and other Personal Articles (Document type restrictions available: Biographical Item, Item about an Individual)

Limiting Searches: Open "Change Limits and Settings" at the bottom of the Search screen to limit by date. One can also choose to search in only one or two of the three component databases.

Retrieved citations can be further limited via the Refine Results box on the Results page. Language, document type, and several other limits are available.

Document types include: Bibliography, Biographical Item, Book Review, Fiction-Creative Prose, Item about an Individual, Review (i.e., review article), Software Review.

There are keywords since 1991 but no subject headings to guide a topic search. One must think of all possible synonyms, e.g., for slave revolts, also try uprisings, revolutions, insurrections, etc.

Abstracts are available: Science Citation Index, 1991- ; Social Sciences Citation Index, 1992- ; Arts and Humanities Citation Index, 1999- .

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Cited Reference Search

The Cited Reference Search searches bibliographies and footnotes of articles. It allows date limitation of both the citing and the cited articles.

  • If you have a pertinent secondary source, you can find more recent articles that cite it and which therefore may also be relevant to your interests.
  • It can be used to demonstrate the effect of an article on its academic community by showing who used it and how.
  • It can be used as a subject search. If you are interested in a certain author, you can do a cited reference search on your author's work: any articles about your author will cite his/her writings. Thus if you are interested in the 19th century medical statistician and public health worker, Elisha Harris, a search of <Harris e> with date as <1850-1900> yields several papers which discuss him.

To search:

Enter the author's name in the Author field. If the your author was prolific, you may enter the date or the journal (in the Cited Work field). These specifications are to be avoided where possible, as there are many errors in the citations. Book titles in the citations are very unpredictable. For W. M. Wheeler's Demons of the Dust, the form used is <Demons Dust>. Searches using either <Demons> or <Demons of the Dust> fail. Titles of journals indexed by Web of Science drawn from the list provided may be used. Otherwise, where specification is necessary, the date is safest.

Hit <Search>. This will search bibliographies and return a list of cited works by your author (and others with the same name-initial). There may be several slightly different citations for the same work. Mark (i.e., click in the box) all relevant citations.

Hit <Finish Search>. This will retrieve a list of articles whose bibliographies include your cited work.

Junior Authors

Cited references included in the list of results of a cited reference search are of two types:

1. Articles which are represented by full records in the Web of Science database. These display in blue and have a <View Record> link.

2. Articles in journals not indexed by the Web of Science and all books display in black and have no links to full records.

Junior authors of articles of type 1 are searched and will be included in the results of cited reference searches. Junior authors of articles of type 2 will not be searched and are invisible in the Web of Science.

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Related Record Search & Combining Searches

Related Record Searches
Each record carries a button labeled <Find Related Records>. Hitting this button will retrieve articles which have citations in their bibliographies in common with the record you have. These are displayed with articles with the most overlap in their bibliographies at the top. Presumably, articles which share many bibliographic citations are similar. The cited reference and related reference searches are especially useful in cases where you have no useful keywords but do have a relevant article.

Combining Searches
The Advanced Search feature allows Boolean combination of result sets. You may combine results of General and Cited Reference searches. For example, you can find those papers citing R. A. Fisher's Genetical Theory of Natural Selection which have the term "sex ratio" in their titles, or papers citing T. S. Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions appearing in the American Journal of Psychology.

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Citation Searching in Other Databases

JSTOR allows simple cited reference searching. Some preliminary experimentation and knowledge of the citation practices (bibliography or footnotes) of the journals of interest are necessary before searching.

Do a full-text search (exact phrase) on your author's name:

  • In inverted form for journals with bibliographies
  • In normal form for journals with footnotes

It is best to limit to just the subject group of journals of interest.

Thus, for citations of the ecologist Victor E. Shelford.

  • Choose <Ecology>
  • Search <Shelford V> in full-text of articles.

The journal Science also may have citations.

  • Expand the journal list
  • Choose Science (under General Science)
  • Search <V. E. Shelford>

For each item in the list of results, choose <Page of First Match>

The last name alone may be used, i.e., Shelford, but this will produce many irrelevant results except in the case of unusual names.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides citation links for articles that are full-text on the Web.

CiteSeer: Scientific Literature Digital Library

Provides a cited reference search in computer science journals. Includes journals on computer science applications in the humanities, biology, etc.
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Page Last Reviewed: December 3, 2009