Web of Science

Last updated
Web of Science
Web of Science Logo 12.2023.svg
Producer Clarivate
History1997;27 years ago (1997)
DisciplinesScience, social science, arts, humanities (supports 256 disciplines)
Record depthCitation indexing, author, topic title, subject keywords, abstract, periodical title, author's address, publication year
Format coverageArticles, reviews, editorials, chronologies, abstracts, proceedings (journals and book-based), technical papers
Temporal coverage1900–present
No. of records
  • 79 million (core collection) [1]
  • 171 million (platform) [1]
Website clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/solutions/web-of-science
Logo in 2014 Web of Science Logo.png
Logo in 2014

The Web of Science (WoS; previously known as Web of Knowledge) is a paid-access platform that provides (typically via the internet) access to multiple databases that provide reference and citation data from academic journals, conference proceedings, and other documents in various academic disciplines. Until 1997, it was originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information. [2] It is currently owned by Clarivate. [3]



A citation index is built on the fact that citations in science serve as linkages between similar research items, and lead to matching or related scientific literature, such as journal articles, conference proceedings, abstracts, etc. In addition, literature that shows the greatest impact in a particular field, or more than one discipline, can be located through a citation index. For example, a paper's influence can be determined by linking to all the papers that have cited it. In this way, current trends, patterns, and emerging fields of research can be assessed. Eugene Garfield, the "father of citation indexing of academic literature", [4] who launched the Science Citation Index, which in turn led to the Web of Science, [5] wrote:

Citations are the formal, explicit linkages between papers that have particular points in common. A citation index is built around these linkages. It lists publications that have been cited and identifies the sources of the citations. Anyone conducting a literature search can find from one to dozens of additional papers on a subject just by knowing one that has been cited. And every paper that is found provides a list of new citations with which to continue the search. The simplicity of citation indexing is one of its main strengths. [6]

Search answer

Web of Science is described [ citation needed ] as a unifying research tool [ citation needed ] that enables the user to acquire, analyze, and disseminate database information in a timely manner. This is accomplished because of the creation of a common vocabulary, called ontology, for varied search terms and varied data. Moreover, search terms generate related information across categories.

Acceptable content for Web of Science is determined by an evaluation and selection process based on the following criteria: impact, influence, timeliness, peer review, and geographic representation. [7]

Web of Science employs various search and analysis capabilities. First, citation indexing is employed, which is enhanced by the capability to search for results across disciplines. The influence, impact, history, and methodology of an idea can be followed from its first instance, notice, or referral to the present day. This technology points to a deficiency with the keyword-only method of searching [ citation needed ] .

Second, subtle trends and patterns relevant to the literature or research of interest, become apparent [ citation needed ]. Broad trends indicate significant topics of the day, as well as the history relevant to both the work at hand, and particular areas of study.

Third, trends can be graphically represented. [7] [8]


Entering a search query on Web of Science Web of Science Core Collection.png
Entering a search query on Web of Science

Expanding the coverage of Web of Science, in November 2009 Thomson Reuters introduced Century of Social Sciences. This service contains files which trace social science research back to the beginning of the 20th century, [9] [10] and Web of Science now has indexing coverage from the year 1900 to the present. [11] [12] As of 24 February 2017, the multidisciplinary coverage of the Web of Science encompasses 12,000 high impact journals and 160,000 conference proceedings. [13] The selection is made on the basis of impact evaluations and comprise academic journals, spanning multiple academic disciplines. The coverage includes: the sciences, social sciences, the arts, and humanities, and goes across disciplines. [11] [14] However, Web of Science does not index all journals.

There is a significant and positive correlation between the impact factor and CiteScore. However, an analysis by Elsevier, who created the journal evaluation metric CiteScore, has identified 216 journals from 70 publishers to be in the top 10 percent of the most-cited journals in their subject category based on the CiteScore while they did not have an impact factor. [15] It appears that the impact factor does not provide comprehensive and unbiased coverage of high-quality journals. Similar results can be observed by comparing the impact factor with the SCImago Journal Rank.

Furthermore, as of September 3, 2014 the total file count of the Web of Science was 90 million records, which included over a billion cited references. This citation service on average indexes around 65 million items per year, and it is described as the largest accessible citation database. [14]

Titles of foreign-language publications are translated into English and so cannot be found by searches in the original language. [16]

In 2018, the Web of Science started embedding partial information about the open access status of works, using Unpaywall data. [17]

While marketed as a global point of reference, Scopus and WoS have been characterised as «structurally biased against research produced in non-Western countries, non-English language research, and research from the arts, humanities, and social sciences». [18]

After the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, on March 11, 2022, Clarivate – which owns Web of Science – announced that it would cease all commercial activity in Russia and immediately close an office there. [19]

Citation databases

Web of Science databases Web of science next generation.png
Web of Science databases

The Web of Science Core Collection consists of six online indexing databases: [20] [21]

Regional databases

Since 2008, the Web of Science hosts a number of regional citation indices:


The seven citation indices listed above contain references which have been cited by other articles. One may use them to undertake cited reference search, that is, locating articles that cite an earlier, or current publication. One may search citation databases by topic, by author, by source title, and by location. Two chemistry databases, Index Chemicus and Current Chemical Reactions allow for the creation of structure drawings, thus enabling users to locate chemical compounds and reactions.

Abstracting and indexing

The following types of literature are indexed: scholarly books, peer reviewed journals, original research articles, reviews, editorials, chronologies, abstracts, as well as other items. Disciplines included in this index are agriculture, biological sciences, engineering, medical and life sciences, physical and chemical sciences, anthropology, law, library sciences, architecture, dance, music, film, and theater. Seven citation databases encompasses coverage of the above disciplines. [12] [13] [33]

Other databases and products

Among other WoS databases are BIOSIS and The Zoological Record, an electronic index of zoological literature that also serves as the unofficial register of scientific names in zoology.

Web of Science includes other products providing data, analytics, insights, workflow tools, and professional services to researchers, universities, research institutions, governments, private and public research funding organizations, publishers, and research-intensive corporations. [34]

  • EndNote is a commercial reference management software package, used to manage bibliographies and references when writing essays, reports and articles.
  • EndNote Click (formerly Kopernio) is a freely available plugin allowing researchers to access papers in subscription-based scientific journals, to which they are subscribed through their higher education libraries, even when the user is off-campus. Using artificial intelligence, the tool automatically records the institutional subscriptions each user has and searches for full-text versions of selected papers to which the user may have access. [35] [36]
  • Publons was a commercial website that provided a free service for academics to track, verify, and showcase their peer review and editorial contributions for academic journals. It was launched in 2012 and was bought by Clarivate in 2017. It claimed that over 3,000,000 researchers joined the site, adding more than one million reviews across 25,000 journals. [37] [38] [39] In 2019, ResearcherID was integrated with Publons. [40]

Limitations in the use of citation analysis

As with other scientific approaches, scientometrics and bibliometrics have their own limitations. In 2010, a criticism was voiced pointing toward certain deficiencies of the journal impact factor calculation process, based on Thomson Reuters Web of Science, such as: journal citation distributions usually are highly skewed towards established journals; journal impact factor properties are field-specific and can be easily manipulated by editors, or even by changing the editorial policies; this makes the entire process essentially non-transparent. [41]

Regarding the more objective journal metrics, there is a growing view that for greater accuracy it must be supplemented with article-level metrics and peer-review. [41] Studies of methodological quality and reliability have found that "reliability of published research works in several fields may be decreasing with increasing journal rank". [42] Thomson Reuters replied to criticism in general terms by stating that "no one metric can fully capture the complex contributions scholars make to their disciplines, and many forms of scholarly achievement should be considered." [43]

Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is an annual publication by Clarivate. [44] It has been integrated with the Web of Science and is accessed from the Web of Science Core Collection. It provides information about academic journals in the natural and social sciences, including impact factors. The JCR was originally published as a part of the Science Citation Index . Currently, the JCR, as a distinct service, is based on citations compiled from the Science Citation Index Expanded and the Social Sciences Citation Index . [45] As of the 2023 edition, journals from the Arts and Humanities Citation Index and the Emerging Sources Citation Index will also be included. [46]

See also

Related Research Articles

A citation index is a kind of bibliographic index, an index of citations between publications, allowing the user to easily establish which later documents cite which earlier documents. A form of citation index is first found in 12th-century Hebrew religious literature. Legal citation indexes are found in the 18th century and were made popular by citators such as Shepard's Citations (1873). In 1961, Eugene Garfield's Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) introduced the first citation index for papers published in academic journals, first the Science Citation Index (SCI), and later the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI). American Chemical Society converted its printed Chemical Abstract Service into internet-accessible SciFinder in 2008. The first automated citation indexing was done by CiteSeer in 1997 and was patented. Other sources for such data include Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, Elsevier's Scopus, and the National Institutes of Health's iCite.

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) was an academic publishing service, founded by Eugene Garfield in Philadelphia in 1956. ISI offered scientometric and bibliographic database services. Its specialty was citation indexing and analysis, a field pioneered by Garfield.

The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometric index calculated by Clarivate that reflects the yearly mean number of citations of articles published in the last two years in a given journal, as indexed by Clarivate's Web of Science.

Scientometrics is the field of study which concerns itself with measuring and analysing scholarly literature. Scientometrics is a sub-field of informetrics. Major research issues include the measurement of the impact of research papers and academic journals, the understanding of scientific citations, and the use of such measurements in policy and management contexts. In practice there is a significant overlap between scientometrics and other scientific fields such as information systems, information science, science of science policy, sociology of science, and metascience. Critics have argued that over-reliance on scientometrics has created a system of perverse incentives, producing a publish or perish environment that leads to low-quality research.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eugene Garfield</span> American linguist and businessman (1925–2017)

Eugene Eli Garfield was an American linguist and businessman, one of the founders of bibliometrics and scientometrics. He helped to create Current Contents, Science Citation Index (SCI), Journal Citation Reports, and Index Chemicus, among others, and founded the magazine The Scientist.

The Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), also known as Arts and Humanities Search, is a citation index, with abstracting and indexing for more than 1,700 arts and humanities academic journals, and coverage of disciplines that includes social and natural science journals. Part of this database is derived from Current Contents.

<i>Journal of Molecular Biology</i> Academic journal

The Journal of Molecular Biology is a biweekly peer-reviewed scientific journal covering all aspects of molecular biology. It was established in 1959 and is published by Elsevier. The editor-in-chief is Peter Wright.

The Science Citation Index Expanded – previously titled Science Citation Index – is a citation index originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and created by Eugene Garfield.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Social Sciences Citation Index</span> Citation index product of Clarivate Analytics

The Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) is a commercial citation index product of Clarivate Analytics. It was originally developed by the Institute for Scientific Information from the Science Citation Index. The Social Sciences Citation Index is a multidisciplinary index which indexes over 3,400 journals across 58 social science disciplines – 1985 to present, and it has 122 million cited references – 1900 to present. It also includes a range of 3,500 selected items from some of the world's finest scientific and technical journals. It has a range of useful search functions such as 'cited reference searching', searching by author, subject, or title. Whilst the Social Sciences Citation Index provides extensive support in bibliographic analytics and research, a number of academic scholars have expressed criticisms relating to ideological bias and its English-dominant publishing nature.

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is an annual publication by Clarivate. It has been integrated with the Web of Science and is accessed from the Web of Science Core Collection. It provides information about academic journals in the natural and social sciences, including impact factors. The JCR was originally published as a part of the Science Citation Index. Currently, the JCR, as a distinct service, is based on citations compiled from the Science Citation Index Expanded and the Social Sciences Citation Index. As of the 2023 edition, journals from the Arts and Humanities Citation Index and the Emerging Sources Citation Index will also be included.

ResearcherID is an identifying system for scientific authors. The system was introduced in January 2008 by Thomson Reuters Corporation.

BIOSIS Previews is an English-language, bibliographic database service, with abstracts and citation indexing. It is part of Clarivate Analytics Web of Science suite. BIOSIS Previews indexes data from 1926 to the present.

<i>Nature Chemistry</i> Academic journal

Nature Chemistry is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Nature Portfolio. It was established in April 2009. The editor-in-chief is Stuart Cantrill. The journal covers all aspects of chemistry. Publishing formats include primary research articles, reviews, news, views, highlights of notable research from other journals, commentaries, book reviews, correspondence. Other formats are analysis of issues such as education, funding, policy, intellectual property, and the impact chemistry has on society.

The Materials Science Citation Index is a citation index, established in 1992, by Thomson ISI. Its overall focus is cited reference searching of the notable and significant journal literature in materials science. The database makes accessible the various properties, behaviors, and materials in the materials science discipline. This then encompasses applied physics, ceramics, composite materials, metals and metallurgy, polymer engineering, semiconductors, thin films, biomaterials, dental technology, as well as optics. The database indexes relevant materials science information from over 6,000 scientific journals that are part of the ISI database which is multidisciplinary. Author abstracts are searchable, which links articles sharing one or more bibliographic references. The database also allows a researcher to use an appropriate article as a base to search forward in time to discover more recently published articles that cite it.

<i>Health Education Journal</i> Academic journal

The Health Education Journal is a peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the field of health education. It was established in 1943 and is published by SAGE Publications The editor-in-chief is Peter Aggleton.

<i>History of the Human Sciences</i> Academic journal

History of the Human Sciences is a peer-reviewed academic journal that covers research on the history of the human sciences. Its editors-in-chief are Felicity Callard, Rhodri Hayward, Angus Nicholls and Chris Renwick. The book reviews editor is Chris Millard and the web editor is Des Fitzgerald. The journal was established in 1988 and is published by SAGE Publications. The previous editor was James Good.

The International Journal of Aerospace Psychology is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on the "development and management of safe, effective aviation systems from the standpoint of the human operators." It draws on aspects of the academic disciplines of engineering and computer science, psychology, education, and physiology. It was established in 1991 and is published by Taylor and Francis on behalf of the Association of Aviation Psychology. The editor-in-chief is Dennis B. Beringer.

Personal Relationships is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the International Association for Relationship Research. It covers research on all aspects of personal relationships, using methods from social psychology, sociology, communication studies, anthropology, family studies, developmental psychology, social work, and gerontology. It was established in 1994 by Cambridge University Press and the editor-in-chief is Ashley K. Randall.

<i>The Journal of Positive Psychology</i> Academic journal

The Journal of Positive Psychology is a bimonthly peer-reviewed academic journal covering positive psychology, including measures of well-being such as life satisfaction, traits such as optimism, work life consequences of resilience, and methods to enhance positive psychological traits. It was established in 2006 and is published by Routledge. The editor-in-chief is Robert A. Emmons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clarivate</span> American analytics company

Clarivate Plc is a British-American publicly traded analytics company that operates a collection of subscription-based services, in the areas of bibliometrics and scientometrics; business / market intelligence, and competitive profiling for pharmacy and biotech, patents, and regulatory compliance; trademark protection, and domain and brand protection. In the academy and the scientific community, Clarivate is known for being the company which calculates the impact factor, using data from its Web of Science product family, that also includes services/applications such as Publons, EndNote, EndNote Click, and ScholarOne. Its other product families are Cortellis, DRG, CPA Global, Derwent, MarkMonitor, CompuMark, and Darts-ip, and also the various ProQuest products and services.


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