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Analytics: Seminal Works

A guide to resources supporting students who are in various analytic, business intelligence, and strategic management courses.

Seminal works, also called pivotal or landmark works or studies, are articles or other works that present important or influential work. Seminal works are referenced often by scholars that publish later, so you're likely to see to these seminal works cited often.

Databases do not label seminal works, and there is no specific threshold of references that makes a work seminal. Instead, you need to use your own judgement and the search skills presented on this page to locate seminal works in your field.

How can I find seminal works related to my topic?

You can use Google Scholar or Web of Science to locate seminal works on a topic.

Google Scholar

In Google Scholar, begin by searching for your topic. The results list will display the most frequently cited results first:

Google Scholar search results highlighting Cited by links under search results

Click on the Cited by link under a result to view the list of works that cited that particular source. You can use the Cited by feature to trace the influence of an article.

Web of Science

In Web of Science, begin by searching for your topic. Then, click Times Cited in the sort by options to re-sort your results with the most frequently cited sources first. 

Web of Science search results with Times Cited link highlighted

Clicking the Times Cited link to the right of a result will pull up the list of sources that cited a particular work. You can use the Times Cited feature to trace the influence of an article.

How can I determine if a source I found is a seminal work?

You can use Google Scholar and Web of Science to look up how many times a particular work has been cited. There is no specific number of citations that makes a work seminal. Instead, we are looking for articles that have been cited much more often than other articles in that discipline. Do a few searches to get a sense for how many times other studies of a similar age are cited in your research area.

Google Scholar

In Google Scholar, search for the title of the work inside quotation marks. Under the search result, look for the Cited by link. This will show you how many times a source has been cited:

Google Scholar search result highlighting Cited by link

Web of Science

In Web of Science, select Cited Reference Search from the search options to see how many times a specific source has been cited:

Web of Science homepage highlighting Cited Reference Search link


Fill out the search fields with the author, publication date, cited title, and so on. You might see multiple results for a given work:

Web of Science cited reference search results for Understanding by Design

Select all that apply and click Finish Search. You'll then receive a list of all the documents that have cited a particular publication and can choose to Analyze the results or sort by Times Cited.