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PAL Research Guide

Search Strategies

Content and Source Identification

Documenting the Search Process

Whether you are searching in-person or online, in-depth research can greatly benefit from documentation. Documenting your search processes allows you to:

  • justify and record your actions and thoughts at various points during your research process
  • see how your search strategies change over time and how this affects your search results 

What to include in your documentation:

  • the names of the sources you searched (database, catalog, physical library location)
  • date you searched
  • any search limits you used (e.g. by author, by date, by content type, subject heading)
  • any search techniques you used (e.g. boolean modifiers or operators)
  • number of results
  • notes/comments

Citation Chasing

What Is Citation Chasing?

Citation chasing refers to the process of retracing the research of an author. This is a way of finding targeted, relevant research. It can be done by accessing an article or work's Works Cited, References, or Bibliography.

Cited reference searching (or "forward" citation chasing) refers to the method of finding articles that have cited a previously published work. Cited reference searching can be done in databases that index citation such as Scopus.

This method of tracking citations is simply another way of searching databases to find relevant sources and articles. Citation chasing and cited reference searching, however, has many purposes.

  • Citation chasing can help you become more familiar with themes in your research area that span different time periods, researchers, and disciplines.
  • The method of using cited references and bibliographies to guide your search process prompts you to read and engage with research that is already in conversation with researchers in the discipline. Therefore, citation chasing can answer some of the following questions:
    • What authors and researchers are being impacted by this article/research?
    • How does this article/research fit within the larger context of the research area I am pursuing?


  • Citation indexing databases like Scopus, and Google Scholar allow users to see research that has cited a given article (forward citation chasing),
  • Using the Works Cited or References section of an important article or book to find other sources related to your research topic. Most databases keep a list of sources the displayed article cites.
Who Does My Source Cite?

To find out which works the author has cited and engaged with, consult the bibliography, works cited, footnotes, or endnotes of the paper, chapter, or book.

Who Cites My Source?

You can use Scopus or Google Scholar to find who cited a book or article. This allows you to determine who engaged with the work.

Learn how to use Google Scholar at

Learn how to use Scopus at