Skip to main content

HDR Literature Review Plan

Introduction to citation indexes


undefined  What are citation databases?

Citation databases are a special type of scholarly database which indexes research publications in a unique way by: 

  • Indexing the citations between publications 

  • Providing citation searching/tracking features 

Citation databases index the citations between articles, thus linking together articles based on their reference lists. 

What this means in practice is that you can find an article that you are interested in and then retrieve the associated articles indexed in that database which cite it or were cited by it.  

How are citation databases different to full-text library databases?

Citation databases are a place to search for links between publications, allowing you to see who has cited who, and providing researchers with the ability to expand their literature search beyond traditional keyword searching. Full-text might not be available to all resources found in citation databases.

undefined   Where can I do citation searching?

There are three main places you can search for literature by following the citations to publications. They include: 

Scopus and Web of Science are the two most comprehensive citation databases, and the Library subscribes to both on behalf of Deakin staff and students. They are both multidisciplinary, and cover a wide range of subject areas. Google Scholar also provides citation searching functionality, however it is less sophisticated than the other two databases, and it only permits forward citation searching. 

Which citation database should I use?

Which citation database you should use does depend on a number of factors, including your subject area. Importantly, no one database indexes all literature, so to be comprehensive, you may want to search all three.  

Of the two subscription (or not free) databases, Scopus is the biggest, indexing over 21,000 journals and 5.5 million conference papers. It covers the areas of health sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and life sciences.  

Web of Science, the other subscription database, is a little smaller but still indexes over 12,000 journals and 160,000 conference proceedings.  

Google Scholar probably has the widest subject coverage but this will also include non-scholarly material which may not always be relevant for your purposes, depending on your subject area.