I'm currently writing a Master's dissertation in health economics which is looking at economic evaluations of certain interventions.

I've got a database of about 400 papers, and would like to spend some time analysing how these papers have actually been utilised and if it relates to certain characteristics of the evaluations. I was thinking of doing a forward-citation search and tracking where these studies have been referenced (many studies will be utilised by reports from health care systems e.g. NHS).

I wanted to ask if this has a formal name to it (e.g. forward citation analysis, flow of information analysis). I would much prefer to it systematically if there was information previously available.

  • 1
    I can't put my finger on a term, but I suspect the dread word "impact" will come into the discussions somewhere :-) May 22, 2015 at 8:30
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    "Forward citation" sounds like a potentially misleading term. What I guess you want to do is "trace citing articles."
    – Kimball
    May 22, 2015 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


There is no name for it that I'm aware of. It's how one uses the literature correctly. You search backwards until you find the seminal papers, and then you search forwards, and then repeat until you retire.

It's much easier now than it used to be. As recently as the '80s, the only way to do this was to find a library with a complete multi-year set of the Scientific Citation Index and grind it through. Now, even google scholar just lets you click a button and find all the papers that cited the paper of interest.


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