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Literature search: Snowball and citation search

Overall guide for literature search

Snowball and citation search

The goal of snowball and citation search is to find additional relevant publications which are in the referencelist of the start-article (snowball) or cite the start-article themselves (citation search).

You can increase your sample of publications quite efficiently using these methods.

Snowballing procedure

Wohlin (2014) present a schematic overview of the snowballing procedure (see below):

  • Identify a start set of papers
  • evaluate the references and citations by following 4 steps
  • exclude or tentatively include the new paper
  • Include based on the full paper
  • Repeat or finish the procedure depending on the results

Wohlin, C. (2014). Guidelines for snowballing in systematic literature studies and a replication in software engineering. In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE '14). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 38, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1145/2601248.2601268

Example: Snowball and citation search in WoS and Google Scholar