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Writing Workshop: The Literature Review: Discover Articles Using Your Reference List

Discover keywords in articles

As you read articles you have found for your literature review, you may discover terms that open up new possibilities for library searches. You might discover:

  • Names of theories or theorists that are new to you
  • Titles of tests or assessments used in your research area
  • Terminology related to topics in your field, such as names for phenomena, conditions, populations, and more
Magnifying glass over text

Here are some helpful things to look for in published articles.

  • Are there any author supplied keywords? When they are included they are usually listed with or near the abstract. Look for a string of words labeled keywords, author supplied keywords, or something similar.
  • Read the literature review section of the article. This can be especially helpful for finding related theories and alternate terminology for concepts in your field.
  • Similarly, there may be a separate section or sub-section of the literature review with a heading such as theoretical framework or conceptual framework. Not every article will feature this heading, but when found these sections can be rich sources of new keywords.
  • Look for closing sections of the article that have a heading such as implications for future research. These sections often review core concepts in the article and point out opportunities for new research.

As you find interesting keywords or terminology in articles you read, record these words in your search log and plan new library searches on these terms. (Review search log strategy in this lesson.)

Citation chaining using article bibliographies

Citation chaining is a strategy in which you look for the materials that are cited by or that cite an article you already have. One resource links you to another, which links you to another, etc. to create a chain of relevant literature. This is a useful research tactic when you are working on a literature review since it helps you follow chains of related research.

A basic citation chaining strategy is to look at the reference list of an article you have already read. Researchers will cite other research that is relevant to their topic and their field of study. You can simply read the bibliography pages of any article; however, some databases have tools to make citation chaning even easier.

Even if the database does not feature citation links for your article, any bibliography will contain full citation information that will allow you to track down the sources. See also: how to find the full text of articles when you have the citation information.

Cited By in Google Scholar

Use Google Scholar's Cited By link to find articles and books that cite your original result. This feature is a great way to find more recent articles and to trace an idea from its original source up to the present.

1. Start by locating a specific article in Google Scholar.

2. Look for the Cited by number at the bottom of the result.

Google Scholar has found 91 other published items that have cited an article by Piazza.


3. Click the Cited by link to see all of the items that cite your original item. Older and more influential items will have a higher number of Cited by results.

4. You can limit these cited by results by either searching for keywords within the results, or limiting the date range.