Scopus vs. Web of Science
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IntroductionSee also Altmetrics | Author impact metrics | Google scholar | Impact factors | Research Portal for Academic Librarians | Scirus | Webometrics
multidisciplinary abstracting and indexing resource with 22 separate
components to which institutions can subscribe in any 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 are rank journals
in terms of productivity and total # of citations received to indicate
their impact, prestige and influence. The principles behind bibliometrics, and cited reference searching, are used to track impact of authors, their scholarship, and where they opt to publish.
Scopus and WoS, though complementary, are quite different tools.
If researchers or librarians were asked to select one, which do they
prefer? To answer this, the two databases should be compared for
qualitative and quantitative aspects. Both use bibliometrics
but each has unique features, coverage and practices. Scopus has more
content (~22,000 journals) but comes with a noticeable European and
Elsevier-publisher bias. The WoS covers ~12,000 journals (open access
titles and conference abstracts) but reveals its own American bias.
Academic libraries provide access to either Scopus or WoS, but rarely
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.
Benefits & weaknesses
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 updated.
Summary: Web of Science is updated with approximately 25,000 articles and 700,000 cited references added each week.
Web of Science (WoS) is searchable with complete bibliographic data, cited reference data and navigation and links to full text.
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.
WoS - Benefits & weaknesses
Google ScholarSee also Google scholar bibliography
Google scholar is easy-to-search, provides quick entry into the grey literature and access to cited papers. Jacso says that GS' poor quality control and inflated citation counts however makes it nearly unusable for bibliometric purposes. 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.