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Agriculture and Bioresources 492/494: Tutorials for Finding and Evaluating Information Sources

This guide contains two modules designed to assist 492/494 AgBio students in contributing to the scholarly conversation in their fields, and finding and retrieving relevant and credible information.

Reference Tracking

In addition to searching in databases and on the open internet, there are other ways to extend your search.

AKA Pearl Growing

Citation tracking is also known as pearl growing - a metaphor related to the oyster who starts with one grain of sand to make a pearl, and the pearl grows bigger and bigger over time. So, too, can your literature review grow if you take a book or an article that is relevant to your research and then pearl grow both backwards and forwards.


Who/what did they cite? You can discover new information resources for your literature review by checking the bibliography (works cited, reference list) of a book or an article and seeing which resources an author consulted to do their research. Then, search for the references that look good using the library. You can keep going, checking those references, etc. (hence growing your pearl) and perhaps incorporating them into your literature review.



Photo of a reference list. V. Wilson 2020


Who/what cited them? You can find new information resources by determining who cited the book or article you're currently looking at. Then you can look for those sources that cited your first source and incorporate them into your review. You can find who cited your favourite article by doing a title search in Web of Science Core Collection, or searching for the article title in Google Scholar.

(backwards and forwards adapted from Victoria Island University Library)





A snip from the results list of a Web of Science Core Collection search

The Pearl

These two forms of citation tracking, or pearl growing, also assist you in seeing the shape of the scholarly conversation that has taken place over time. The relevant article you are using to search from is a single point in time. Pearl growing allows you to go back in time (earlier articles cited by your good article) and into the future (articles that have cited your good article since it has been published).


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