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Research Skills Tutorial

This is a self-paced, non-credit course that covers research skills, critical thinking, media and internet literacy, and understanding the complexities of the modern information environment (including libraries.)

Citation Chaining

Using Citation Chaining to Enhance Your Search

Citation chaining (sometimes called Reference Mining), like descriptor chaining, is another way to expand your search. It involves reviewing the bibliographies/works cited/references list of particularly relevant articles from your search results list in order to identify additional relevant articles.

In the example below, the topic is "the Russian Orthodox Church under the rule of the Mongols."

Screenshot 1: Searching JSTOR using the search query (mongol* OR tatar OR khan*) AND ("russian orthodox" OR church) with results limited to Academic Articles published between 2004 and 2014, returns 1,848 search results. 

Screenshot of the JSTOR search results list. The search was ((mongol* OR tatar OR khan*) AND ("russian orthodox" OR church)). There are 1848 search results.

Screenshot 2: In that lengthy list of results, many of which were not as relevant as we would hope, we find this article, which seems ideally suited to the topic:

Screenshot of the Article Information Page of an article in JSTOR. In JSTOR, the full-text displays page by page in a window on the Article Information Page, but there is also a View PDF link in the upper right of the page.

Screenshot 3: By viewing the full text of the article, we see Meyendorff's Byzantium and the Rise of Russia mentioned repeatedly in the citations, which indicates that this book is particularly relevant to the focus of this article and, therefore, likely quite relevant to our topic. The next step is to search the library for this book.

Screenshot of the PDF of an article which has Chicago Style footnotes. One of the citation footnotes is highlighted.

Use Your Textbook and Reference Books For This!

It's a great idea to see if relevant chapters of your textbook, or articles in reference books that you find, have a bibliography/works cited/references list. If they do, go ahead and mine them for articles, books and other kinds of information sources to use in your research! 

Accessibility Note

Please note: If you need to request accommodations with content linked to on this guide, on the basis of a disability, please contact Accessibility Resources and Services by emailing them.  Requests for accommodations should be submitted as early as possible to allow for sufficient planning. If you have questions, please visit the Accessibility Resources and Services website.