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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Seminal Works

Academics should consider using open textbooks for their curriculum or educational activities, which will contribute to their learning objectives. The use of open textbooks does not preclude the use of seminal works for their discipline.

Seminal works (sometimes called pivotal or landmark studies) initially presented an idea of great importance or influence within a particular discipline. Seminal articles are referred to time and time again in the research, so you are likely to see these sources frequently cited in other journal articles, books, dissertations, etc.

  • It is essential to keep in mind that seminal studies may have been published quite some time ago. Thus, limiting a database search to only the past five years, for example, may exclude seminal studies from your results.
  • Avoid overlooking pivotal research that may have occurred in years past by not using a date limiter.

This workshop introduces resources used to locate seminal works for a particular discipline. Use this ‘Finding Seminal Research Workshop Outline’ to learn how to locate pivotal studies using SAGE Navigator, Web of Knowledge, and additional Library and online resources.


SAGE Navigator is a social sciences literature review tool that enables users to browse a list of recommended readings from crucial literature. It includes journal articles, book chapters, and sources hand-selected by experts in their field to save you time identifying seminal research.

Key Readings

To access these readings:

  • Browse or search SAGE Navigator to locate a Major Work related to your research topic.
  • Selected a title, click on the Key Readings tab.
  • You can now sort by Table of Contents, Title, or Publication Date.

Interactive Chronology Tool

Included on the Key Readings tab is the SAGE Knowledge interactive chronology tool. It helps you visualise how the research has developed over time. Each dot on the chronology represents one seminal work, which you may hover over for more details. 

This YouTube video provides an overview of the SAGE Navigator Key Features.

Web of Science provides citation analysis tools as a quick way to find seminal papers.

Times Cited

Execute your search. Refine it until you get the search results that reflect your topic.

  • You will see Times Cited at the top of the list on the results screen, as shown below. A large number of times cited will likely indicate that the article is a seminal study. 

Citation Report

The citation report tool tracks an article's cited and citing references, allowing you to go forward and backward in time to discover an article's broader relationships visually.

  • To find the citation report, open a record in your search list, then click on the link that states the number of citations within the database searched. Next, click on Create Citation Report within the results that appear to generate a Citation Report. Here you can run more detailed analytics that provides data based on author, year, journal title, subject category, and more.

The citation report and analytics can be helpful for several reasons, including:

  • to see the impact your original article has over diverse multidisciplinary subject fields.
  • To see how widespread a paper has been distributed and read.
  • See which institutions cited and cited by the original article.
  • Tracking repeats of an author's name may indicate the author has produced seminal research, which is worth investigating.

Google Scholar identifies how many times a particular source has been cited.

Start by linking Google Scholar to Western Sydney University Library to find full-text articles when available.

You will find the number of times a source has been cited displayed beneath the abstract/excerpt or bibliographic information. A high number of citing sources can signal a seminal work.

Searching online is another way to identify seminal research in your topic area. Try entering phrases such as landmark studies psychology or influential studies psychology, seminal research psychology into Google, or another search engine. Remember that information retrieved from the open web should be more heavily scrutinised than the information you might find in vetted library databases.

This workshop presents search engine tips, basics of a website evaluation and includes practice websites for you to evaluate. Use this ‘Website Evaluation Workshop Outline’ to learn how to evaluate websites.

Source: Content on this page has been adapted from the Research Process guide with permission from Northcoast University Library

© Western Sydney University, unless otherwise attributed.
Library guide created by Western Sydney University Library staff is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY)