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Cited Reference Searching in the Web of Science

Basic Instructions for Searching and Setting up Alerts
Back to: Cited Reference Searching

Citation Databases in the Web of Science:

  • Science Citation Index Expanded (1900-present)
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (1956-present)
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (1975-present)


These are some basic instructions for conducting a cited reference search in the Web of Science. For further instruction, connect to the Cited Reference tutorial on the Thomson Reuters site. Also remember to use the HELP options within the database.

CONNECT to Web of Science through the Library's "Databases" page by title or subject.


1. Once you're in the Web of Science database, click "Cited Reference Search"

  • At the bottom of the screen are your Current Limits with the default being all years, all three citation databases.
  • Click "Change Limits and Settings" if appropriate.
    - In many cases, you will want to search at least two of the citation databases simultaneously. For example, linguistics is covered by SCI, SSCI and AHCI.

2. Find cited references to all works by a particular author by entering the author’s name, as directed (e.g., ardalan a*).  You may wish to select a specific author from an author list by using the magnifying glass icon.

3. To search a specific work by that author, add the cited work (journal, not article title) and/or cited year. For "cited work," be sure to select the journal abbreviation from the Journal Abbreviation List. Journal titles are abbreviated to 20 characters -- truncate (*) if necessary.

4. Click SEARCH

Tips on Entering Names
  • The search is based on first author's last name and initials (smith jl), up to 18 characters (with up to 3 characters for first and middle name initials). If you are not the first author, you should search by the lead author to locate all cited references.
    • An author name preceded by ellipses (…) indicates that author is not the lead author.
  • Try author name variations (e.g., foreign spellings, no middle initial, common misspellings): balitsky i* or balitski i*. Citation entries are taken directly from the bibliographies, which may have variations. Try the magnifying glass (Cited Author Index) to identify variations.
  • Use wildcards

    * -- represents any number of characters: fellman a* will find papers citing "fellman a" or "fellman ac"
    ? -- represents one character: savit?ky ah will find papers citing "savitsky ah" or "savitzky ah"
    $ -- represents one or no characters: ha$vey md will find papers citing "havey md" or "harvey md"

Select References

1. On the “Cited Reference Index” screen, select the cited references you want to include by clicking in the boxes to the left.  (You may wish to SELECT PAGE or SELECT ALL references on all pages.) Also note the "document type" and "language" restriction options.

  • The number of "Citing Articles" (second last column at right) includes all years available in SCI 1900-present, SSCI 1956-present; and AHCI 1975-present; however, only records from 1975-present may be displayed (i.e., VIEW RECORD).
  • Citation databases are minimally edited. There may be errors in the citation (misspellings, incorrect years or volume numbers, variations in abbreviations).

2. Then click FINISH SEARCH


Your Results screen will display all articles citing the references you selected.

  1. Mark the records you wish to print/save/email/export -- options:
    • Check individual boxes of selected items. [It may be most efficient to view the maximum number of citations per page (50). Select at bottom left.]
    • Select “All records on page” at bottom under “Output Records.”
    • Select all records in the entire set by entering the number range in the “Records” option at bottom.
  2. At bottom: Select the fields you wish to save (from "Authors, Title, Source" to "Full Record plus Cited Reference" -- keep in mind that a full record can be very long if it includes all cited references.)
  3. At bottom: If you are selecting items from each page, select "Add to Marked List." Move to next page and continue to mark/select items. Note:  The limit for marked records is 500.

    TIP: Try the "Analyze Results" option. This will allow you to sort and graph references by authors citing, years of citing, sources citing, etc.

    TIP: With the full article citation on the screen (click title link), you may have an "Additional Information" option on the right to link to "View the journal's impact factor (in Journal Citation Reports)."

Output Results

When finished marking/selecting items, select method of output: Print – Save to – Email – Save to EndNoteWeb – Save to EndNote, RefMan, or other reference software.

  • If you have the EndNote program, we suggest the last option, not EndNote Web.
  • If you wish to save records in a spreadsheet, select the "Tab delimited" option on the pulldown menu for "Save To".

Log Out

More Tips

Too many entries?

  • Use the Cited Author Index
  • Search only SCI or SSCI or AHCI
  • Add a middle initial
  • Search specific range of years
  • Search specific cited journal

Too few entries?

  • Use the Cited Author Index – check for spelling variants
  • Search by first initial only (with *)
  • Search by lead author
  • For navigation, use the BACK options within the Web of Science, rather than using the browser's BACK button.
  • The citation databases cover the major journals in the field, but not all journals (consult the Master Journal List). If your work was cited in a journal not on this list, a reference to your work will not appear in your search results.
  • Books that are cited in articles will be included in the citation databases; however, the bibliographies from the books themselves are not available. Until more books become available electronically, there is no easy way to search the cited references in books.


Two types of alert services are available for cited references:  Saved Search Alerts (for topics, cited authors, etc) and Citation Alerts (for specific articles). The alert automatically searches the latest week of data and then sends the results to you by e-mail. 

NOTE: You’ll need to create a Web of Knowledge Profile to use the Alert services.

To register with ISI Web of Knowledge:

  • Go to Web of Science from the Library’s “Databases” page.
  • Click on “Sign In" at the top of the ISI Web of Knowledge page.
  • Click the “Register” link and fill in the appropriate information to set up your account. (Note:  don't select automatic sign in if you work from a public computer.)
  • Click “Continue” to proceed.

Setting up a Saved Search Alert

  1. Perform your cited reference search.
  2. While viewing the "Results" screen, click on "Search History" in the top menu bar. Click on "Save History / Create Alert"   
  3. You will be asked to name your search history and provide a short description (optional).
  4. If you would like Web of Science to automatically perform this search for you, check "Send Me E-mail Alerts" and select the frequency (weekly or monthly) that you desire updates.
    • Customize your search results (i.e. record length, format) by changing the defaults you see in the dialog box before saving.
  5. SAVE. You have the option to save it to the server or save it to your workstation. (Recommendation: save it to the server.)
    • If you did not choose Email alerts, select "My Saved Searches" after logging in.  Click on "Open/Run History". The results, including any new articles added to the database since you saved your search, will be displayed.
    • To set up additional saved search alerts, repeat the above steps.  To modify your saved searches in a subsequent session, just start by logging into your account. You will find a list under "My Saved Searches"

Setting up a Citation Alert

  1. Perform a standard search to locate an article of interest.
  2. With the full article citation on the screen (click title link), click "Create Citation Alert" (in the box to right).  Confirm your selection.
  3. You will be notified whenever an article cites the alert article.
  4. To add additional citation alerts, repeat the above steps. Your citation alerts will be listed under "My Citation Alerts," which is where you can make changes to the alerts.

NOTE:  Saved searches last for 6 months from date of set up and may be renewed.  Citation alerts last for 1 year from date of set up and may be renewed.

Be sure to LOG OUT of the database when you are finished.  Logging out will also log you out of your account.


Karen Vaughan