When it comes to evaluating scientific papers, citation counts are mentioned more often than not. A paper can be cited for a variety of reasons but it is generally agreed that citations are one of many indicators of impact. There are a number of resources that are either free or subscribed to by the Library for looking up citing references, such as Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science.
The authors of The Wisdom of Citing Scientists discuss the limitations of citing references for assessing the usefulness of papers. For example, one cannot assume that a paper with few citations has been widely read and critiqued. It is possible that the paper was not found by others or that it did have some influence on future writings. They argue that cited references in a paper tell a more complete story, revealing a scientist’s preference for particular journals and theoretical approaches, and his/her ability to identify relevant, current, and high quality publications. As librarians we are always stressing the importance of examining the reference list of a paper so it was quite nice to see this articulated.