What is the value in searching citations? You can find more recent articles which update earlier research; find responses to an article; see how influential an article has been; or identify other articles on the same topic as the original work.
Backward Citation Searching (tip: think cited sources or searching an article's references)
Looking at the list of all sources cited by an author is called 'backward citation searching'. It provides a snapshot of the thinking and research available at the time the research was published.
Some databases help you do this by linking to all of the references cited in an article, but you can also use the "How-To Find..." tab to get information on finding cited references.
An example using JSTOR (a multidisciplinary database)
Steps: 1.) Search and find an article that is relevant to your research. 2.) Click on the title of the article to view it. 3.) In the right column, under JSTOR, you'll see three options. The first option, "References", is the list of items that were cited in the article (backward citation). The second option, "3 items Citing this Item", will give you links to those three articles (forward citation).
Forward Citation Searching (tip: think article relevance)
Finding out whether an article was cited by authors after its publication will help you assess the importance of that article and how it has shaped subsequent research and scholarship. This is called 'forward citation searching."
An example using Web of Science (multidisciplinary database)
Steps: 1.) Find a relevant article to use. 2.) Select Web of Science and then "Cited References" at the top of the screen. 3.) Type in the author, journal title (use the journal abbreviation list!), and the year the article was published. 4.) Go to a list of results. The example below found that a 1993 article has been cited 118 times.