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AAS 201A: Interdisciplinary Research Methods


1. Use Web of Science to find frequently cited works.  To the left of the results are Quick Filters, one of which is "Highly Cited Papers."  Highly cited papers are those that receive enough citations to place them in the top % of their academic field, based on a "highly cited threshold for the field and publication year."  This is a different measure than total number of citations, which may show that a work got a lot of attention, but not necessarily that the work was seminal. One drawback of Web of Science is that they only count citations in journals covered by Web of Science. Indexing of journals in the Sciences is much more extensive than indexing in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

2. Use a database or Google Scholar to find review articles. Review articles provide an analysis of the state of research on a topic. They typically summarize key findings, reference seminal works, and identify research gaps and directions for future research.

  • "Review Articles" is another Quick Filter option in Web of Science.
  • In the Advanced Search option of some databases, there may be an option to limit your search to "Review article" or "Literature review."
  • After conducting a search in Google Scholar, you'll see on the left an option to limit to Review Articles. [caveat: I don't know how Google is determining whether a work is a review article, so use with caution.] 
  • The Library also has a subscription to Annual Reviews, a collection of journals that publish critical literature reviews on a large range of topics.

3. Check out the literature reviews in dissertations related to your topic.

4. Bibliographies like those that appear in Oxford Bibliographies Online often identify seminal works. 

5. The articles in research encyclopedias such as the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History often have discussions of the literature that will highlight seminal works.