It can be useful to see who cited a paper. The more times it's been cited, the more influential it can be considered. Papers that cited it are also likely to be on a very similar subject, and can contain new information not present in the paper you're starting from.
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Articles published from 1996 forward are mostly findable in Scopus, which has some handy features that let you track their influence across time.
Example: T. Dzwinski, "A Novel Approach of an Absolute Encoder Coding Pattern," IEEE Sensors Journal, 15(1) pp. 397-401 (2015).
1. Search for the article title in Scopus. Put it in quotation marks to search for the exact phrase.
2. In the search results, look at the number in the far-right column. That's the number of times this paper has been cited by other Scopus papers.
3. Click the number to see what those citing articles are.
4. Change the sort from "Date (newest)" to "Cited by (highest)" to see the article's most influential children.
Scopus covers enough pre-1996 articles that it's worth checking first, but you'll need a back-up just in case. For older articles, you'll also want to check Google Scholar.
Example: R. Ogden, "A High Resolution Optical Shaft Encoder," Journal of the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers, 55(4) pp. 133-138 (1985).
1. Search for the article title (in quotation marks) in Google Scholar.
2. Find the "Cited by" link beneath the abstract.
3. Click the "Cited by" link to see the children.
Like scholarly literature, patents build on each other through the years. When searching for patent information, you can use either Google Scholar or Google Patents. Google Patents only gives you other patents that have cited the one you search; Google Scholar gives you all publications that have cited it.
Example: Frank Gray, Pulse Code Communication, US Patent 2632058, filed 13 Nov. 1947 and issued 17 March 1953.
1. Search for the patent number, if you have it. You can also search on the patent name etc., but that could introduce ambiguity into the search.
2. In Patents, the "Cited by" information is in the sidebar on the right.
In Scholar, the "Cited by" information is beneath the abstract.
3. Click through to see the children.
Curious about patent research? Read the patent research guide.