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Basic subject guide for the study of Philosophy

Subject vs. Citation Searching

There are two basic ways to find information once you start researching your topic:

  • Subject-specific searching
  • Citation searching 

Subject-specific searching

Searching within your subject area will give you more specific research that speaks to your own research topic. 

  • Use the Research Databases to find relevant and subject-specific databases.
  • Contact your subject librarian for a one-on-one session.
  • Find a Subject Guide on your research area.
  • Find Annual Reviews in your discipline.

Citation searching 

Searching by citations is a useful way to find research directly related to your topic. In citation searching you use a work of scholarly literature to find more literature that was cited by that work or cites that work.  Citation searching can be done two ways: 

  • Citation chasing
    • Looking at the Works Cited page or Bibliography of an article or book that fits within your topic.
    • Looking in the "past" at work an article references.
  • Cited reference searching
    • Using a citation indexing service, like Scopus, Web of Science, or Google Scholar, to find research that cites a specific article or work.
    • Looking in the "future" at works that referenced a specific article. 

Using citations to search for scholarly literature can help you think more broadly about your research topic within the larger discipline, and help you answer the following questions:

  • Who/what are the big names and articles in this area?
  • Who is this research in conversation with?