Using Citations as Leads to Sources

Academic works include lists of cited sources, which can offer leads to materials that we can use in our research. Being mindful of how sources are used in the works we're reading helps us figure out which sources might be useful. Then, we can locate those sources, read and evaluate them, and decide if we want to use them.

The first step in locating a cited source involves figuring out what type of source it is (e.g., article, movie, book, etc.).

We can analyze an entry using what we know about documentation styles. The information included in a citation, how the pieces are arranged, and the punctuation tell us the source types.

Knowing the source type helps us figure out the best way to look for an item in the library's collections. For example, we would use

  • the SFX CitationFinder tool to track down periodical articles,
  • the library catalog to locate books and parts of books, and
  • the Dissertations & Theses database to look for these academic publications.

The following pages offer instructions for analyzing citations and for using library resources to locate common source types: periodical articles, books and parts of books, and dissertations/theses.