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Education: Seminal Works

Seminal Works

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. 

In Google Scholar, search for your topic. The results list will display with the most frequently cited results first:

Google Scholar search results highlighting Cited by links under search results

Clicking on the Cited by link under a result will take you to the list of works that cited that particular source. You can use the Cited by feature to trace citations forward in time. 


In Web of Science, search broadly for your topic. Then, click Times Cited 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 citations forward in time.


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. 

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

Google Scholar search result highlighting Cited by link


In Web of Science, select Cited Reference Search 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.

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