Scopus vs. Web of Science
To browse other articles on a range of HSL topics, see the A-Z index.
IntroductionSee also Altmetrics | Author impact metrics | Google scholar | Impact factors | Research Portal for Academic Librarians | Scirus | Webometrics
(TR), is a multidisciplinary abstracting and indexing (A&I) service
with different components to which libraries and academic institutions
can subscribe in combination. Journal indexing is cover-to-cover for
16,959 titles including 726 open access publications... — Goodwin, 2014
Elsevier's Scopus and Thomson Reuter's Web of Science (WoS) are the two most extensive, popular (and commonly-used) search tools in academia to track impact factors. (For direct head-to-head comparisons, see this Scopus and Web of Science Comparison Chart.)
Besides searching the literature, these two databases also rank
journals re: productivity and total # of citations to indicate impact,
prestige and influence. The principles behind bibliometrics, and cited reference searching, are used by WoS and Scopus to track impact of authors, their scholarship, and where they opt to publish.
Scopus and WoS, though complementary, are quite different tools
in terms of their coverage/scope and methods. If researchers or
librarians were asked to select one, which do they prefer? To answer
this, the two databases should be compared head to head for qualitative
and quantitative aspects. Both tools make use of bibliometrics
but each has unique features, coverage and practices to arrive at
citation counts and impact. Scopus ultimately has more content
(~18-22,000 journals) but has an obvious bias in its coverage of
European journals Elsevier titles. WoS covers about ~12,000 journals (open access
titles and conference abstracts) but reveals its own American bias.
Academic libraries provide access to either Scopus or WoS, and sometimes
both but this is rare.
In further detail, WoS
is a multidisciplinary database that contains the Science Citation
Index, Social Sciences Citation Index and Arts & Humanities Citation
Index. Scopus provides access to scientific, technical, medical and social science literature. While several databases such as EBSCO offer a kind of internal cited reference searching their coverage is not as comprehensive as the WoS.
In fact, it can be said with some certainty that no single tool is able
to track all citations and the research citing them. The databases that
offer cited reference searching often focus on academic journals that
they index and neglect papers in the deep web (see grey literature). As a result, some important seminal articles and monographs are always missed.
Dr. Peter Jacso criticizes the claims of those who use Scopus, WoS and Google scholar pointing out that "
...knowing the bibliometric features of databases, their own h-index
and related metrics versus those of the alternative tools can be very
useful for computing a variety of research performance indicators.
However, we need to learn much more about our tools in our rush to
metricise everything before we can rest assured that our gauges gauge
correctly or at least with transparent limitations...". In light of the ubiquity of new author impact metrics, his statements have a resounding ring of truth to them. In other words: librarians beware!
ScopusScopus indexes 53 million records, 21,915 titles and content from 5,000 publishers, and claims to be the largest abstract and citation database of research literature and quality web sources. This claim is challenged by researchers in various fields including in library science (Jacso, 2011). See this breakdown of Scopus content. Elsevier is the owner of Scopus and is also one of the main international publishers of scientific journals.
- Scopus contains 53 million records, 70% with abstracts
- Nearly 22,000 titles from 5,000 publishers worldwide
- 4.9 million conference proceedings, 1,200 Open Access journals
- 100% Medline coverage
- 20+ million records back to 1996 with references
- 20+ million pre-1996 records go back as far as 1869
- 20+ million records back to 1996 with references
- 40,000 monographs or books
- 386 million scientific web pages
- 22 million patent records from 5 patent offices
- Links to full-text & other library resources
- Innovative tools to review results and refine to relevant hits
- Alerts to keep you up-to-date on new articles matching your search query, or by favorite authors
covers 250 million quality web sources, including 22 million patents.
Searches in Scopus incorporate searches of scientific web pages through Scirus, and include author homepages, university sites and resources such as preprint servers and OAI compliant resources.
- In 2014, Scopus announced a new journal metric called Impact per Publication (IPP).
IPP measures the ratio of citations per article published, and provides
an additional metric for comparing and evaluating journals. Access the
IPP metric from the "Compare journals" tool in Scopus.
- Scopus - more detail on what it does and its coverage & complete coverage guide
Benefits & weaknesses
- Scopus permits search by affiliation; by zip code and institutional name(s).
- Scopus covers over 22,000 journals, versus 11,000 in WoS
- Scopus is 5-15% smaller prior to 1996, and 20-45% larger than WoS after 1996
- For publications before 1996, the coverage offered by Scopus for the various subjects is uneven
- 95% of Scopus' database consists of records of descriptions of articles.
- Before 1996, the number of non-journal articles in Scopus is low; this rises to 10% by 2005
- For recent years, the proportion of non-journal articles is significantly higher in Scopus than in WoS (4%)
- Scopus is a more versatile search tool; clear advantages in functionality;
- default, refine, format of results of citation tracker and author identification
- default, refine, format of results of citation tracker and author identification
- Scopus covers mostly scientific fields; relatively weak in sociology, physics and astronomy
Web of ScienceThomson Reuter's Web of Science (WoS) (formerly Web of Knowledge)
provides access to a network of scholarly articles linked by their
references. Articles have been indexed from journals since 1960 and
12,000 journals are currently covered. WoS is the online version of the
Science Citation Index with some differences. Separate annual editions
covering science, social sciences, and the arts and humanities have been
integrated into a multiyear multidisciplinary system. WoS covers nearly
23 million source papers from the 1940s to the present, and frequently
Web of Science is updated with approximately 25,000 articles and 700,000 cited references added each week.
- Covers 12,311+ journals from 256 categories, 110,000 proceedings from conferences, symposia, seminars, colloquia worldwide
- Journal backfiles to 1900, cover-to-cover indexing, cited reference and chemical structure searches
- Science – 7100 international journals and highly cited book series in 170 categories back to 1900
- Social Sciences – 1,750 international journals and highly cited book series in 50 subject categories back to 1954
- Arts & Humanities – 1,200 international journals and highly cited book series in 25 categories back to 1975
- Complete backfiles to 1945 however put total at ~37 million records
- Cited reference and chemical structure searches
- Author identification tools
- Analysis capabilities
- Direct links to your full-text collections
- Index Chemicus®: Over 2.6 million compounds, to 1993
- Current Chemical Reactions®: Over one million reactions, to 1986, plus INPI archives from 1840 to 1985.
provides unique search methods and cited searching. Users can navigate
forward and backward through the literature, and search all disciplines
and time periods. Users can navigate to print and electronic collections
using institutional linkresolvers.
- Web of Science (WoS) is searchable with complete bibliographic data, cited reference data and navigation and links to full text.
- Web of Science tutorial
- WoS - detail on coverage
- See also Essential Science Indicators (and ESI specifics
to determine the influential individuals, institutions, papers,
publications, and countries in their field of study — as well as
emerging research areas that could impact their work
Thomson Reuters Impact FactorJCR provides quantitative tools for ranking, evaluating,
categorizing, and comparing journals. The impact factor is one of these;
it is a measure of the frequency with which the "average article" in a
journal has been cited in a particular year or period. The annual JCR
impact factor is a ratio between citations and recent citable items
published. Thus, the impact factor of a journal is calculated by
dividing the number of current year citations to the source items
published in that journal during the previous two years.
- A = total cites in 2010
- B = 2010 cites to articles published in 2008-9 (a subset of A)
- C = number of articles published in 2008-9
- D = B/C = 2010 impact factor
WoS - Benefits & weaknesses
- Only a slight difference in coverage between Scopus and Web of Science (WoS) and a strong overlap.
- WoS covers science and arts/humanities.
- WoS search interface is improving but not as useful as Scopus.
- WoS has more options for citation analysis for institutions.
- Substantial differences exist between WoS, Scopus and Google scholar
- the latter delivers instant results for searchers. This can
(subconsciously) be a major reason for users to choose it over other
- Google scholar is much larger than either WoS or Scopus
but it has been shown to have fewer references to selected articles.
However, GS' unique coverage and web crawling techniques means that it
has been shown to have five (5) times as many unique cited items although many counts are inflated.
Google ScholarSee also Google scholar bibliography
Google scholar is easy-to-search, provides fast access into grey literature
and other related (and unrelated) cited papers. Jacso says that the
poor quality control and inflated citation counts in Google Scholar
makes it nearly unusable for bibliometric purposes. It might be better
to say that GS should be used but not in isolation with the
foreknowledge that it has a number of major limitations. A number of Impact factors - such as the h-index - are now determined by using Google scholar data despite its many limitations, metadata problems and inflated citation counts. Although Google scholar provides access to other papers through its cited by
feature it is generally seen to be a browsing or discovery tool not a
properly curated bibliometric tool like WoS or Scopus. Reliable
bibliometric searching requires better tools that employ cited reference
searching based on accurate counts.
A, Zainab AN, Kiran K, Raj RG. LIS journals scientific impact and
subject categorization: a comparison between Web of Science and Scopus. Scientometrics. 2012.
- Adriaanse LS, Rensleigh C. Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar: a content comprehensiveness comparison. Electronic Library. 2013;31(6):727-744.
- Adriaanse LS, Rensleigh C. Comparing Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar from an Environmental Sciences perspective. S Afr J Libr Inform Sci. 2011;77(2):169–178.
E, Campbell D, Gingras Y, Lariviere V. Comparing of science
bibliometric statistics obtained from the web and Scopus. J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol. 2009;60:1320–1326.
- Bakkalbasi N, Bauer K, Glover J. Three options for citation tracking: Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science. Biomedical Digital Libraries. 2006;3:7.
- Bar-Ilan J. Citations to the “Introduction to informetrics” indexed by WOS, Scopus and Google Scholar. Scientometrics. 2010;82(3).
- Bar-Ilan J. Which h-index? a comparison of WoS, Scopus and Google Scholar. Scientometrics. 2008;74(2):257-271.
- Chadegani AA, et al. A comparison between two main academic literature collections: Web of Science and Scopus databases. arXiv preprint arXiv:1305.0377 (2013).
- De Groote SL. Coverage of Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science: a case study of the h-index in nursing. Nuring Outlook. June 2012.
G, Gomez-Uranga M. Use of Scopus and Google Scholar to measure social
sciences production in four major Spanish universities. Scientometrics. 2010;82(2):333-349.
ME, Pitsouni E, Malietzis GA. Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of
Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weaknesses. FASEB Journal. 2008;22:338-342.
- Fingerman S. Web of Science and Scopus: current features and capabilities. Issues in Sci Tech Libr Fall. 2006
M. A comparison of bibliometric indicators for computer science
scholars and journals on Web of Science and Google Scholar. Scientometrics. 2010;(3):243-258.
- Gavel Y, Iselid L. Web of Science and Scopus: a journal title overlap study. Online Inform Rev. 2008;32(1):8-21.
- Goodwin C. Web of Science. Charleston Advisor. 2014;16(2):55-61.
- Jacso P. The h-index, h-core citation rate and the bibliometric profile of the Scopus database. Online Information Review. 2011;35(3):492-501.
P. Grim tales about the impact factor and the h-index in the Web of
Science and the Journal Citation Reports databases: reflections on
Vanclay's criticism. Scientometrics. 2012;92(2):325-354.
- Kloda LA. Use Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science for comprehensive citation tracking. Evidence Based Lib Info Pract. 2007;2(3):87-90.
- Kousha K, Thelwall M. Assessing the citation impact of books: the role of Google Books, Google Scholar and Scopus. J Am Soc Inform Sci Tech. 2011;62(11):2147-64.
A. Comparisons of citations in Web of Science, Scopus, and Google
Scholar for articles published in general medical journals. JAMA. 2009;302(10):1092-1096.
C, Moya-Anegon F, Moed HF. Coverage and citation impact of oncological
journals in the Web of Science and Scopus. J Informetrics 2008;2:304–316.
EF, Eleni IP, George AM, Georgios P. Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web
of Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weaknesses. FASEB. 2008;22:338-42.
- Moed HF, Plume A. Studying scientific migration in Scopus. Scientometrics. 2013;94(3):929-942.
S, Chinchilla-Rodríguez Z, Moya-Anegon F. Open access and Scopus: a new
approach to scientific visibility from the standpoint of access. J Am Soc Info Sci Tech. 2011;1130-45.
- Pickard KT. Impact of open access and social media on scientific research. J Participat Med. 2012 Jul 18;4:e15.
- Pudovkin AI, Garfield E. Rank normalization of impact factors will resolve Vanclay’s dilemma with TRIF. Scientometrics. 2012.
- Salisbury L. Web of Science and Scopus: a comparative review of content and searching capabilities. Charleston Advisor. 2009;11:1, 5-18.
- Sampson M, McGowan J. Managing database overlap in systematic reviews using Batch Citation Matcher: case studies using Scopus. J Med Libr Assoc. 2006;94(4):461-3.
- Schroeder R. Pointing users toward citation searching: using Google Scholar and Web of Science. portal: Libraries and the Academy. 2007;7(2):243-248.
- Winter JC, Zadpoor AA, Dodou D. The expansion of Google scholar versus Web of Science: a longitudinal study. Scientometrics. 2014;98(2):1547-156.