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PSCB90 Physical Sciences Research Experience

Welcome to the research guide for PSCB90. This guide will help you become familiar with relevant research tips & resources for your project.

The Power of Citations

In scholarly publications, citations are a list of sources usually located at the end of an article or book chapter.  Depending upon the conventions of the different style manuals, these lists may be called references, works cited, bibliographies, or endnotes.  To some extent, these words are synonymous, but they all contain citations.

Using Review Articles to find Primary Sources

Review articles synthesize known research on a specific topic. They typically summarize past research, identify important people in the field, outline recent advances, and point out gaps in a body of knowledge. 

Review articles are well-cited, and can provide a great source of citations as a starting point for more extensive research.

Web of Science Cited Reference Search

Once you have identified an important or influential source on your topic, cited reference searching can help you find articles that have cited it. You can then see articles that have cited those articles.

Citation Indexes and Forward Chaining

Forward chaining allows you to move forward in time to find articles that cite a previously published work, usually using citation indexes.  Keep in mind that there is a period of delay between when an article is published and when it is cited by other researchers and begins to appear in citation indexes. A very recent article may have few forward citations.

Backward Chaining

You can use articles or books you have already found as a starting point to get additional relevant materials on your topic. Look for a list of citations listed at the end of the publication. The list may be called 'References', 'Bibliography', or 'Works Cited', depending on the referencing style that was used in the publication.  Locate these items by searching LibrarySearch.

This technique is called backward citation chaining.

Factors Affecting Citation Count

  • Time since publication
  • Importance of the work (both good and bad)
  • Importance/prominence of the journal the article is published in
  • Language of publication : something published in for example Russian or Chinese will get fewer citations than one in English because fewer people can read Russian or Chinese
  • What type of document is it?  Literature reviews (also known as: review articles, reviews, research summary, etc.) generally receive more citations than original research papers (also known as: journal articles, papers, research articles, etc.)