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Political Science 281: Backward Citation Searching

Contemporary African Politics
Professor: Elizabeth Iams Wellman
Spring 2022

Backward Citation Searching

A list of works cited gives you a snapshot of the thinking & research available at the time of publication. It tells you what ideas or theories have influenced a researcher. Looking at the works cited by an author is called 'backward citation searching'.

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Hale Polebaum-Freeman
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Following book citations

When you have a citation for a book, you should search the library catalog to see if Williams owns it. Let's use a popular example:

Nairn, Tom. Faces of Nationalism: Janus Revisited. London: New York: Verso, 1997.

  1. Begin by searching for the author or title in the library catalog.  The catalog is picky about how things are entered, so don't give up it you don't find it right away.  Try a couple different searches for the book, until you're sure we don't own it.
  2. If your catalog search came up empty, search for the book in Williams WorldCat.  If you find it there, you can request to borrow it from another library.

Search the Library Catalog

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Following article citations

If you already have a citation, start by searching for the citation in the library catalog.  To keep your results manageable, enter at least the title and the author's last name.

If you find a result, use the  Get It  or  View It  options to find the article in print or online.

Remember to "expand your results" on the left side of the page to include non full-text citations.

If Williams does not own a copy, you can use the "request from interlibrary loan" link to borrow a copy from another library.