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UVic Library Search Help

Tips for using the Library Search interface at the University of Victoria Libraries.

What is a citation trail?

If your search turns up a particularly relevant article or book, examining the sources cited within that work or other sources which cited the work can locate closely related works on the same topic.This technique is called 'citation trailing.'

When we follow a citation trail, we do one of two things:

  • Examine the bibliography, references or works cited section of a specific article to identify relevant sources published previously. This is sometimes called Backwards Searching.
  • Identify any sources that have cited or referenced a specific article since that article's publication. This is sometimes called Forwards Searching. 

Diagram illustrating citation trailing. Backwards searching looks for sources cited in the starting source, while forwards searching looks for sources which cite the starting source.

How to follow a citation trail in Library Search

Within Library Search, you can quickly follow a source's citation trail from the search interface.

Conduct a search using your chosen keywords.

Screenshot of a search using the keywords "health climate change inuit."

Select either of the orange arrow icons at the top right of the resource you are interested in. The arrows facing upwards will lead to a page listing sources which cite the work selected (forwards searching). The downwards-facing arrow will lead to a page listing the sources cited within the work selected (backwards searching).

Screenshot of a single record within the search results. At the top right of the record are found an upwards facing arrow, forwards searching, and a downwards facing arrow, for backwards searching.

You can also access these features from the full record page accessed once you click on the title of a resource. Clicking 'Citations' will allow you to forwards or backwards search along a citation trail.

Screenshot of a full item record. At the bottom left, we can see a link reading "Citations," which will let us view the sources cited or citing the work we are viewing.

Note that unfortunately, this feature is not available for every resource available through LibrarySearch. Not all sources will display the orange arrows enabling backwards and forwards searches. Some may have only one available, and some may have none. The two sources below will only allow backwards searching, for instance.

Screenshot of two search results, which allow backwards searching but not forwards searching

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