Information chaining is a smart research technique that helps you use one source to find other new sources that might be relevant.  It can also help you discover new ideas around your topic. Essentially you are following a chain of research or ideas from your resources to learn more about a topic and further your own research.

There are a few ways to do this

  • follow links within online sources
  • follow clues or leads from within the text
  • look at the work cited or reference lists

Online sources often have links that take you to outside sources found within their text.  Clicking these links is an easy way to find other sources that might be helpful.

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Other sources might only give you clues or leads to information on your topic that you might want to know more about. For example, a source might only mention a certain study, prominent researcher or author, book title, statistics set, or new term/word related to your topic.

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In this case, you might want to try to track down the original study, see what the researcher has published, look for a copy of the book, or do a database search using the new term you learned about from this publication.

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Some sources will do more than just leave clues for you to follow up on.  They will actually cite where they got the information.  If the source you are looking at has a reference page, work cited list, or bibliography, you can use that bibliographic information to track down the sources they used.

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For more information, see this short video on Information Chaining

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