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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 Indexes

Citation indexes collect citation data for documents published by academic journals, conference proceedings, and other scholarly sources 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.

It is through this citation analysis that you can get a sense of what has been written on a topic and what papers, based on the citations, are considered either foundational in the field or are new enough to be necessary to a review of the current trends.

This citation data can be used to analyze scholarly research in many ways, including by topic, author, affiliation, publication, time period, and other factors.

Citation indexes are citation-level only, though will link out to full-text through Library subscriptions and other means.

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)