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Scholarly Credentials Toolkit for History Faculty

Selected tools for evaluating academic productivity in the discipline of history

Web of Science (Institute for Scientific Information)

Web of Science (WOS) analyzes the impact of history journal articles. In other words, find out who is citing whom, when, and where in the journal literature with WOS. Start with a list of the author's publications, preferably from a CV or bibliography. Do not begin your search hoping to identity a list of the author's works or even a single work in WOS, as this can be both difficult and unreliable; better tools exist for identifying an author's corpus (see Historical Abstracts and America: History & Life, below). In WOS the author's name must be entered into the database in a particular way. It is therefore recommended to search by the author's last name and first initial, e.g. <Clancy F*>, in combination with a second search facet such as cited year(s) of publication.

There are three citation indexes in Web of Science, all of which are turned on by default: Science Citation Index (SCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), and Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI). Each index covers journals in its respective broad area of knowledge. Even if the author is not a scientist but rather a social scientist or humanist, stick with the default search for the most comprehensive results.

Follow these steps to search Web of Science:

  • Click on "Cited Reference Search" at the top of the page to begin the process of identifying articles that cite an author's work(s).
  • Enter the author's name in the Cited Author field like this: <last-name> space <first-initial> immediately followed by an asterisk (*). Example: <Santley R*> picks up works authored by "Robert Santley" and "Robert S. Santley" (same person). As indicated, it is best to add cited year(s), if known, before executing the search.
  • Click "Search" to retrieve your "CITED REFERENCE INDEX" results list. Even precise searches frequently return results with at least a few "false hits" for records with similar authors and titles. You will need to weed these out. This is one reason why, as a general rule, it is less confusing to search for a single article than multiple works, and to combine the search with a cited year if known. Check the boxes next to the results you believe actually represent the author(s) and title(s) in question.
  • Finally, click "Finish Search" to obtain a list of references to articles that cite the article(s) under consideration. It is possible to sort this list by number of times cited, publication year, first author, and so on. Clicking on a title from the list reveals a link to all the references it cites (its bibliography or works cited list), including the article under consideration. Print, email, or export to a citation manager the results list at the bottom of the page under "Output Records".

You might wish to review our Scholarly Credentials Toolkit page for additional tips and a lengthier tutorial.

Google Scholar and Google Scholar Citations

Google Scholar incorporates a cited reference search that is upending our traditional reliance upon Web of Science. No comprehensive analysis of an author's corpus can afford to overlook Google Scholar. Look for "Cited by X" in the relevant citation of the Google Scholar results list. Note that Google Scholar is the best tool for analyzing the impact of a book or a book chapter as opposed to a journal article. Traditionally it has been very difficult if not impossible to analyze the impact of a book, so this is a valuable feature of Google Scholar.

Like the more traditional Web of Science, Google Scholar Citations tracks citations to scholarly publications. But unlike WOS, Google Scholar Citations tracks a range of scholarly works from conference proceedings to books. It is easy to create a Google Scholar profile, which you have the option to make public, to showcase your scholarly publications and citations of those works.

Ebsco History Databases

America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts are core history databases. Together they offer the most comprehensive indexing of the journal literature. Indeed, the combined number of journal titles indexed by these two databases is sufficiently large so that even a simple author search can broadly determine quantity of scholarly output. The databases can often be used to confirm partial or suspect article citations and/or create a bibliography of journal articles written by an author. A cited reference search has been added to both databases, but it is not available if searching the databases simultaneously.

Follow these steps to perform a cited reference search in America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts:

  • Choose "Cited References" from the blue bar at the top of the homepage of either database. Again, no cited reference option appears if the databases are searched simultaneously. Enter any combination of cited author, title, source, or year and then click the "Search" button. Mark the appropriate check box or boxes and then click "Find Citing Articles" to retrieve a list of articles that cite the article(s) under consideration. If no check box appears it means that no works indexed in the database cite that article.
  • Regular keyword searches can result in citations that include "Cited References (X)" and "Times Cited in this Database (X)." Clicking on the former results in a list of records cited in the original article, i.e. a standard bibliography of works quoted or consulted by the author of the original article; clicking on the latter results in a list of articles that subsequently cited the original article.

Academic Search Premier (ASP), another database available on the Ebsco platform, offers a cited reference search. Since ASP is the Libraries' most comprehensive periodicals database, it is well worth including in any comprehensive search for cited references. As above, choose "Cited References" from the blue bar at the top of ASP's homepage.


JSTOR has earned its reputation as the premier scholarly journal archive. The database offers a cited reference search but not from the basic or advanced search screens. Follow these steps to perform a cited reference search in JSTOR:

  • Perform a standard search for the article under consideration. If found, click on the article title to reveal its initial, full-text page.
  • A box titled "JSTOR" appears in the right-hand column. This box might indicate "X items Citing this Item." Click on this link to reveal citations to articles available in JSTOR that cite the article under consideration. Note as well the presence of a link to "Articles Citing This Article" in Google Scholar, more about which above.
  • Unfortunately, the standard cited reference search in JSTOR sometimes misses relevant results. If the article title is sufficiently unique, it is possible to perform a manual cited reference search using JSTOR's proximity operator: <"Keyword1 Space Keyword2"~#WordsBetween>. Example: A researcher wishes to discover how many JSTOR articles cite "Rereading the Maps of the Columbian Encounter" by J. Brian Harley, in Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Sep., 1992), pp. 522-536. According to JSTOR's standard cited reference search, seven articles (as of Sept. 2011) cite Harley's work. However, a basic keyword search for <"rereading columbian"~5> returns 31 hits, including the following article not in the original count of seven: "Columbus and Anthropology and the Unknown," by Robert Paine, in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 1, No. 1. (Mar., 1995), pp. 47-65. Paine's article cites Harley's earlier article on page 64.

Reliability of Results

The problem described in the JSTOR box to the left, namely the failure of a formal cited reference search to find all relevant citations, points to a basic rule of citation searching: No single database, not even Google Scholar, can be relied upon to reflect the true and complete number of works citing another work. It is always possible that important citations will be missed by the databases discussed in this guide. Your best strategy is therefore to piece together the most comprehensive results possible by searching multiple databases.