The references at the end of an article show us what publications informed the author's work. They substantiate facts, and they demonstrate what work the author learned from, built upon, or refuted. The references look back in time to what the author considered at the time of publication.
Unlike examining the references at the end of an article, however, a cited reference search lets you move forward in time to see how an article was used after it was published.
Identify other papers from people working in the same field, following a similar line of research, or using the same technique.
Learn from their research findings. Identify potential collaborators.
Cited reference searching can also be used to gauge the impact a particular author (or group of authors) has had on the literature in their field.
The Impact Factors guide describes tools used to assess author impact, journal impact, or article impact.
For additional ways to describe the impact of research, see "Assessing the Impact of Research" produced by the Becker Medical Library.
A researcher may want to calculate the number of times that her/his entire body of publications has been cited. This technique is sometimes used as a measure of the importance of an individual's contributions to her/his field. While this technique should not be relied upon as an accurate measure of a researcher's work, it can supplement other forms of author impact analysis.
See the Web of Science tab for instructions on conducting a citation count for publications citing a researcher's corpus of scholarly articles.