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History 300: Making History: Citation Mining

In higher-level research (like the kind you're doing!), citation mining is very important for finding sources.  There are two methods of citation mining: backward citation searching and forward citation searching.  Below you'll find a recap of each process.

Backward Citation

Backward citation searching involves looking at the references cited in your source.  The "backward" here indicates that you are discovering sources published prior to your source's publication.  The logic in doing backward citation is that if you like your current source, chances are you will also like some of the sources it cites.  To do backward citation searching, simply look at the bibliography/works cited/refernces list in your source and seek out any of the references that seem promising.  A librarian can help you locate any sources you are having difficulty getting a hold of. 

Forward Citation

Forward citation searching involves looking at the references that have cited your source.  The "forward" here indicates that you are discovering sources published after your source.  The logic in doing forward citation is that if you like your current source, chances are you will also like some of the sources that cite it.  Though there are specialized databases that allow you to forward citation search, the only one we have access to at IC is Google Scholar

How Good or Influential is a Source?

Finding a potentially good source is one thing, but figuring out how influential/popular/good the source is can be trickier.  One shorthand way for doing this is figuring out how many times the source has been cited.  In academia, a high citation count is a good indicator that the source is valuable (or at least popular).  You can often find how frequently a source has been cited by looking at the citation counts on Google Scholar

Have subject specific questions?

If you have questions, you can contact us at:


Luke Beatty
- Library Director
luke.beatty@ic.edu

217.245.3573


Garrett Traylor
- Reference & Cataloging Librarian
garrett.traylor@ic.edu
217.245.3022


Elora Agsten - Instructional Librarian
elora.agsten@ic.edu
217.245.3117


For general inquiries:
schewe@ic.edu
217-245-3020
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