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Citation Indexes: Scopus & Web of Science

How to use Scopus and Web of Science for basic research and in-depth literature searching.

Citation Index Databases

Citation indexes, also known as abstract-and-index databases, collect citation data for documents published by academic journals, conference proceedings, and other scholarly sources which are included in the indexes based on specific criteria.

Citation indexes are typically publisher-neutral, as the focus of the index is to allow for an analysis of the literature as a whole, rather than by a specific publisher or journal.

Citation indexes only include citation-level information for the documents indexed within, though they provide links to full-text access through Library subscriptions and other means.

Citation Analysis

Citation analysis uses published citations as data to analyze scholarly research as a whole. This can help you get a better understanding of the work published in a field, by factors such as topic, author, affiliation, publication, and date range. Citation analysis is a critical component of conducting a literature review, and can also be useful when tracking citation counts for your publications or those of another author.


Which One to Use? Both!

Scopus and Web of Science index a wide variety of journals. While there is a fair amount of overlap, there are also many titles that are unique to each database. Therefore, it is best to review both databases for citation analyses, literature reviews, and citation tracking.


For More Information

Scopus and Web of Science are useful for research at multiple points of the process, or even if you have a casual information need. Email a librarian to take a deeper dive into these handy tools, or keep an eye out for a Library workshop on the subject.

Please Note

The content available in Scopus and Web of Science generally reflects a focus on Western, English-speaking scholarly communication. While efforts are being made to expand coverage to include research from more of the world, it is important to remember when using these tools to ask yourself:

What knowledge has been made part of academic agendas?
And what knowledge has not?
Whose knowledge is this?
Who is acknowledged to have the knowledge?
And who is not?

Grada Kilomba (2008), quoted in: Thambinathan, V., & Kinsella, E. A. (2021). Decolonizing methodologies in qualitative research: Creating spaces for transformative praxis. International Journal of Qualitative Methods.


Citation: "A citation is the formal acknowledgment of intellectual debt to previously published research. It generally contains sufficient bibliographic information to uniquely identify the cited document." (Source: Web of Science)

Index: “A list (as of bibliographical information or citations to a body of literature) arranged usually in alphabetical order of some specified datum (such as author, subject, or keyword).” (Source: Merriam-Webster)