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Physician Assistant Systematic Review

Citation Mining

Once you have found a highly relevant article, you can use that article to find other relevant articles by looking at what article it has cited (Backwards Searching) and other articles that have cited the original article (Forward Searching). The idea is that Scholars publishing their work, build their ideas using other relevant articles. They have to cite these ideas, just like you have to cite articles in your work. Depending on the theme in the original article, not all of the articles in the reference list or "cited by" list will be relevant but some of the articles may match your inclusion criteria. This is called citation mining or pearl growing, reference searching or chain searching. 

Backwards Searching

Backward reference searching, also known as chain searching, involves identifying and examining the references or works cited in an article.  It is done for the following reasons:

  • Learn about the development of knowledge on a topic. 
  • Study the origins and development of a theory, construct, or model of interest. 
  • Identify experts, institutions or organizations that specialize in a topic of research.

Many databases include a reference list separated from the article that lists every article cited in the article and provides links to the abstract or full text if available through that database. 

Forward Searching

Forward reference searching is when a researcher identifies articles that cite an original article or work after it had been published.  This type of search focuses on the publications created after an article's publication. 

Forward reference searching helps a researcher do the following:

  • Expand their knowledge on a topic by locating follow-up studies. 
  • Identify new findings and developments on a topic
  • Examine and consider other methodologies or analyzes used to study a topic.

Databases will indicate articles that have cited the article you have found on the search result page with a "Cited by" link or included in the PlumX Metrix information under an article's information in EBSCOhost databases. 

How to find an Article from a Citation