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A snowball search can go forwards and backwards and is often referred to by several names.
- Reverse Snowballing, Backward Reference Searching, chain searching
- This strategy looks back through the article's references. In this way, the searcher can gain a better understanding of how knowledge on a topic has evolved, as well as identify the topic experts. Reverse searches can continue as far back through a line of articles as the searcher deems necessary.
- Forward Snowballing, citation mining
- This strategy looks at the citations of the original article after its publication. This allows the searcher to view recent articles on a particular topic: taking into consideration any changes to theory or methods, and identifying any current trends regarding the topic.