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Comparative Literature: Journal Impact/Citation Searching


What is the "impact factor"?

Measuring the "impact factor" is a way to determine the relative importance of a journal within its field.  The higher the impact factor, the more important the journal is compared to others in the same discipline.  Impact factors are determined based on calculating the number of citations to articles published in a particular journal.  This practice is most commonly used in science/technology and social sciences fields.

For more information on Impact Factors see the Libraries' Reseach Impacts Using Citation Metrics guide.

Humanities Journal Impact Metrics

Few tools exist to measure impact factors for Humanities journals.  Tools like ISI Journal Citation Reports and Eigenfactor focus on journals in the fields of science, technology, and social sciences.  

Cited Reference Searching using Google Scholar

One way to assess the impact of a published book or journal article is to determine how many times it has been cited by others.  The more times an article or book has been cited, the higher its impact.  Google Scholar is one tool to find cited references.

  • Google Scholar
    When you search an item in Google Scholar,  each record includes the number of times the item has been cited by others.  See the red arrows in the image below for an example.  
    Screenshot showing Google Scholar search results with the "Cited by" feature highlighted


Cited Reference Searching using Web of Science

Don't be put off by the name!  Web of Science actually covers all subject areas, including Arts and Humanities.  Here is how to do a cited reference search in Web of Science.**

Access the Web of Science database.  (The link will open in a new window, so that you can refer back to these instructions.)

Click on the blue downward pointing arrow next to the Basic Search option and select Cited Reference Search.

Enter the information requested about the cited work.

The results will list more recent articles that have cited the original work.

**Google Scholar does a better job of tracking Arts and Humanities materials than Web of Science.

This short video tutorial provides more information on how to do a Cited Reference Search.

What is"cited reference" searching?

"Cited reference searching" refers to the practice of using an important article on a research topic to find later articles that cite the original work.  These references usually deal with the same topic and report results of later research on the subject.  Cited reference searching can be a very effective method of tracking research in a given field and of finding highly relevant references to the topic of interest.