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Useful Tool for Citation Chasing in Academic Searching

Useful Tool for Citation Chasing in Academic Searching

In this post, I will walk you through a useful tool Citationchaser for citation chasing in academic searching.

The handy tool was developed by Neal Haddaway, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden.

The tool has been developed as an R package.

They also developed a web application- Shiny app for the researchers who have no prior coding skills.

Citation search is the procedure for following up on an author’s study.  It lets you find relevant and particular research topic.

When looking for academic papers, we frequently need lists of references from various studies and also get a list of articles that cite a specific study. 

In systematic reviews, this supplementary search technique is known as ‘citation chasing’.

There are two types of citation chasing:

  1. Backward Citation Chasing
  2. Forward Citation Chasing

Backward citation chasing searches for all records that have been mentioned in one or more articles.

The retrospective search for citations lets you identify list of references of study.

Forward citation chasing searches for all records that mention one or more items of known interest. It informs you the number of times a your research work has been cited and locate the origin of the work.

You can also read the article on Forward and backward citation tracing in literature reviews.

The web application uses the free-to-use bibliographic database Lens. It allows interoperable and efficient citation chasing using the comprehensive Lens database.

Lens accumulates research papers and grey literature from :

Microsoft Academic
CORE full-text
Enhanced with Unpaywall open access information
PubMed Central
Links to ORCID

At the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to use the tool for conducting literature review for free.

How Does the Web Application Work ?

Citationchaser is available as both an R package and a Shiny app (a web-based application).

Lens serves over 200 million scholarly records, compiled and harmonised from aforesaid open free to use database.

In this article, we will take you step by step through the Citationchaser web application and explore the different features available.

Let’s take a look at what you can do..

Follow the below steps to get started:

#Step 1: Input Article Identifiers

At the very outset, open the web application using the link.

Once you open the online web application, you will be taken the the page below:

So to get started click on “Article input” tab, the below interface will appear:

Input Article IDs

You simply upload the paper identifiers and select the identifier type. After completing the above steps, you can obtain references and citations.

Citationchaser supports the following identifier types:

Identifier Type

For the sake of this post, I have selected the PubMed IDs (33341119, 33010669) of Coronavirus Covid-19 related research paper.

By clicking “Load my input articles” you will get the scholarly literature:

Input Articles

Moreover, you can download your input articles in RIS format alongwith their abstracts.

#Step 3:

In order to perform backward citation chasing or retrospective search, you click on “Reference” tab.

Below is the reference pop up:


Once you loaded your input articles, you can search for all referenced articles across them.

Here, you click on blue button “Search for all referenced articles in Lens.org”, you will get the references:

Refereces of Input Articles

# Step 4:

 To perform forward citation chasing then proceed to the “Citations” tab and click on “Search for all citing articles in Lens.org”.

Forward Citation Chasing

Once you click on blue button “Search for all citing articles in Lens.org”, you will be taken to the page below:

Forward Citation Chasing

The tool visualizes the search results alongwith its relationship between the nodes.

Besides, it assigns a color to each node as needed.

The web application visualizes the following:

  1. Your input papers
  2. a reference to that research paper
  3. or a citation to that scholarly paper. 

It is worth mentioning that no token is required to access the web application. You do not need to install the software, you can use it online.

In addition to that the Citationchaser accepts explicit redirects that contain record IDs in the Uniform Resource Locator (URL).

The Citationchaser app helps a lot when you have dozens of articles to discover. To retrieve references and citation this tool is very much useful.

We hope this article was helpful and gave you some ideas on useful tool for citation chasing in academic searching.

If you want to learn more about what the web application does and how to use it here.

Haddaway, N. R., Grainger, M. J., Gray, C. T. (2021) citationchaser: An R package and Shiny app for forward and backward citations chasing in academic searching. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.4543513

ESHToolsBlog – citationchaser

A walkthrough of citationchaser with developer Neal Haddaway



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