What is Cited Reference Searching?
Normally you look at the end of a book or article for the references cited, all of which have been published earlier than the piece you are reading.
For example, when I read Keith Basso's "Portraits of "The Whiteman" which was published in 1979, all works cited are dated earlier than 1979.
However, if I want to know who has cited Basso's work since it has been published, I will use the "Cited Reference" searching approach.
To establish the impact of a given book or article:
The more often it's been cited the more "important" it is
To find a series of related works that update (rather than predate) the work I know.
To investigate the intellectual history of an idea, method or scientific approach. The assumption is that if an author cites a given work, she is engaging with at least one idea in that work. Thus we can follow a thread of research or reasoning by doing a cited reference search.
For example in "Portraits..." Basso explores joking in intercultural encounters. By finding out who has cited this work, I can find more recent works on this subject.