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    Follow the Links

    by Meghan Kowalski on 2024-04-10T08:00:00-04:00 | 0 Comments

    While deep in your research, you may discover an amazing source written by an expert which supports your argument, provides excellent background information, and discusses both sides of your research issue. But what do you do now?

    One effective research method to try is citation chaining. Citation chaining works because it shows you how various sources connect with each other. Links emerge because the sources cite each other, thus forming a chain of sources. This approach is essential because it enables you to see how crucial findings and arguments evolve over time. Citation chaining also helps you locate important authors, publications, and other sources on a subject. It can show you how researchers support or challenge each other’s viewpoints. Moreover, it provides a deeper insight into the academic discourse that your own research will contribute to.

    • Backward citation chaining is when you look at an article’s references and analyze these sources for your own needs. Essentially, you “read the footnotes” and then track down the sources that author used. Researchers do this to determine what has been previously asserted on an issue and to identify significant sources on a topic.
    • Forward citation chaining happens when you look at the sources that have cited the article you are starting with. These more recent sources can lead you to newer findings and development on a topic.

    Citation chaining is a great method for finding sources, but it should not be the only one you use. Citations have differing quality and value. Scholars use and discuss each other’s works in different ways. While scholars briefly discuss some sources, others are more heavily relied upon. You cannot rely solely on how often a source is cited by others. You must also critically assess sources to see if they are worth using in your own project.

    Citation chaining is an excellent way to help you find sources, learn more about a topic, and develop your thoughts as a researcher. It’s a great method to have in your toolbox of research skills. Many library databases can help you with citation chaining. Footnotes and references may directly link you to the articles cited. Some databases will even have a column that shows you which newer articles cite the first source you are looking at. How these tools look may change in each database, but our librarians can help you track down anything you are interested in finding.  

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