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HIS 300: Senior Seminar: Tracing Citations

Citation Trace

Citations are a map of scholarly conversations over time. Tracing cited works is an effective way to tap into conversations and find great material that may otherwise be hard to find. 

To go back in time -

  • Is the citation to a book? Look up the book title in the library catalog.
  • Is it to a chapter of a book? Look up the book title (not the chapter title) in the catalog.
  • Is it a journal article? Check our list of journals.
  • Is it not available in our library? Request it from another library through Interlibrary Loan.
  • Not quite sure what it is? Ask a librarian to help trouble shoot it.

To go forward in time -

Type the author and title of the book or article into Google Scholar. Click on "cited by" to see who has cited it since it was published. Some library databases also offer this feature. Web of Science has a particularly well-developed citation trace feature which is cross-indexed in Google Scholar.


Going From Citations to Books and Articles


The first highlighted reference includes volume, date, and page number, so it's probably a journal article. Search our journal list to see if we have the Autumn 1985 issue of Critical Inquiry in our library in print or electronic form. Yay, we have this one!

The second has page numbers, but no volume. It's a collection of essays. Look up "Society and Culture in Early Modern France" in the catalog. Yay, we have that one, too.

The third has no page numbers. It's a whole book. Look up "Jesus as Mother" and you'll see we have that one as well. A trifecta.



Interlibrary Loan

To easily place a request for a book is to change the default in the library's search box to "libraries worldwide" and then search by book title, author, or subject. Books available at our library will be listed first. If you encounter a book that is not available at Gustavus you might see a "request from another library" option. By clicking on that, you'll be able to submit a request. You will be notified by email when your books are in. Pick them up at the main desk. Unfortunately we are often unable to borrow ebooks, so if you can limit your search to print books you might have better luck.

Articles usually reach you in a day or two. Books are sent by courier or by mail and may take a few more days, depending on how far they have to travel.

Whether it's a book or an article, keep an eye on your Gustavus email account to see when things are available for download or pickup or check by logging into your library account and

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