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Web of Science: Using a Citation Database: Citation Database Search Features

Citation Databases

Search Functionality in Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar

What's the Difference?

Significant differences exist between Google Scholar and the other two major citation databases in search functionality; there is less to distinguish WoS from Scopus. WoS offers a Cited Reference Search that facilitates identification of citations to a work even when there are citation errors in the source paper. But that must be balanced against the larger number of journals and articles in Scopus, and the additional citing articles from these. 

Are you looking to identify the most important references in a paper's bibliography? Trace the development of an idea backward in time? Both WoS and Scopus allow you to see the references in an article without downloading the full-text. They both also show how often each reference in the bibliography has been cited, making it easier to identify core papers. Google Scholar does not provide "backward" citation searching.

Do you need to do a precise, targeted search? Google Scholar's main strength and weakness is the simplicity of its user interface. Although some advanced search and sorting options are available, there are many fewer than those in WoS and Scopus.

Are you looking for a topic that may have been mentioned in the full-text of an article, but not in the citation or abstract?  Google Scholar searches some full-text. As a result, Google Scholar can sometimes retrieve papers that mention brand names, reagents, abbreviations, etc. that cannot be found by searching with those terms in PubMed, WoS or Scopus.

For a concise summary of similarities and differences, please see the table below which compares the search features of Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar.

SEARCH FEATURES

Web of Science

Scopus

Google Scholar

Search by Author Article Title, etc. (Field Searching)

Yes. Web of Science also allows for Cited Reference Searching, searching for articles that have cited a previously published work.

Yes

Yes, on Advanced Search page, but options quite limited compared to those offered on Web of Science and Scopus.

Use Search Operators (Boolean Searching) 

Yes

Yes

Yes, on Advanced Search page.

View References (Bibliographies) of Papers

Yes

Yes

No

Find "Related Articles" Based on Shared Citations

Yes

Yes

Unknown; Google Scholar finds Related Articles based on "similarity" and "relevance", but it is not known how this is calculated.

Sort Search Results by the Times Each Publication was Cited

Yes

Yes

While there is no "Sort by times cited" feature like you'll find on Web of Science and Scopus, number of times cited is one of the factors in Google Scholar's proprietary search algorithm, so that a paper with a higher number of citations will appear higher on the search results page than one on the same topic with less citations.

Search Alerts

Yes

Yes

Yes

Export to Bibliographic Managers (EndNote, RefWorks, etc.)

Yes

Yes

Yes, but only one citation at a time (unlike Web of Science and Scopus which let you export a group of citations at once).

 

Information Sources: