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‘Cat in the Stacks: Citation Surfing


I’m Michelle Callaghan, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.

The weather’s really warm around these parts this week, huh? Maybe warm enough for a little surfingCitation surfing, that is. What? You don’t know that that is? Pfft. Only the coolest sport out there for students during November crunch time. Don’t believe me? Give it a try, dude. I’ll teach you.

How to Citation Surf
…a Step-by-Step Guide

One! Find an article or book that was somewhat helpful for your research topic.

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Two! Find the bibliography and choose a source of interest to you.

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Three! Find that source.

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Is that source good? Yay! Repeat step two and go to that source’s bibliography. Find your next source!

Now you’re surfing. An entertaining* way to accomplish your tasks at hand.

So is this just a fairly basic research method? Looking at bibliographies for good sources? Well, yeah. But calling it surfing makes it infinitely more entertaining. And in the interest of full disclosure: I didn’t citation surf as an undergrad. It didn’t even occur to me as a method. I always had good research – but no one ever gave me the bibliography tip! It’s obvious now, but it wasn’t obvious then. Lesson learned – and now, lesson shared. Never assume that we students should pop out of the womb knowing this “basic” stuff, and don’t be afraid to come to the library for help. You’re here to learn!

*This of course depends on your definition of entertaining, but certainly this method will help you accomplish a lot of effective reading!

Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.



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Last Modified: November 5, 2015

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