Web of Science

Last updated
Web of Science
Web of Science Logo.png
Producer Clarivate
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 to present
No. of records
  • 79 million (core collection) [1]
  • 171 million (platform) [1]
Website clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/solutions/web-of-science

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. It was originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information.It is currently owned by Clarivate (previously the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters [2] ).


Background and history

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 easily 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," [3] who launched the Science Citation Index, which in turn led to the Web of Science, [4] 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. [5]

Search answer

Web of Science is described as a unifying research tool 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. [6]

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.

Second, subtle trends and patterns relevant to the literature or research of interest, become apparent. 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. [6] [7]


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, [8] [9] and Web of Science now has indexing coverage from the year 1900 to the present. [10] [11] As of 24 February 2017, the multidisciplinary coverage of the Web of Science encompasses 12,000 high impact journals and 160,000 conference proceedings. [12] 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. [10] [13] 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. [14] 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. [13]

Titles of foreign-language publications are translated into English and so cannot be found by searches in the original language. [15]

In 2018, the Web of Science started embedding partial information about the open access status of works, using Unpaywall data. [16]

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. [17]

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: [18] [19]

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. [11] [12] [31]

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. [32]

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. [32] Studies of methodological quality and reliability have found that "reliability of published research works in several fields may be decreasing with increasing journal rank". [33] 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." [34]

Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is an annual publication integrated with the Web of Science and is accessed from the Web of Science-Core Collections. It provides information about academic journals in the natural sciences and social sciences, including impact factors. The JCR was originally published as a part of 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 . [35]

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. As a journal-level metric, it is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field; journals with higher impact factor values are given the status of being more important, or carry more prestige in their respective fields, than those with lower values. While frequently used by universities and funding bodies to decide on promotion and research proposals, it has come under attack for distorting good scientific practices.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bibliometrics</span> Statistical analysis of written publications

Bibliometrics is the use of statistical methods to analyse books, articles and other publications, especially in regard with scientific contents. Bibliometric methods are frequently used in the field of library and information science. Bibliometrics is closely associated with scientometrics, that is the analysis of scientific metrics and indicators, to the point that both fields largely overlap.

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> Information and library scientist

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 & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), also known as Arts & Humanities Search, is a citation index, with abstracting and indexing for more than 1,700 arts and humanities journals, and coverage of disciplines that includes social and natural science journals. Part of this database is derived from Current Contents records. Furthermore, the print counterpart is Current Contents.

Citation impact is a measure of how many times an academic journal article or book or author is cited by other articles, books or authors. Citation counts are interpreted as measures of the impact or influence of academic work and have given rise to the field of bibliometrics or scientometrics, specializing in the study of patterns of academic impact through citation analysis. The journal impact factor, the two-year average ratio of citations to articles published, is a measure of the importance of journals. It is used by academic institutions in decisions about academic tenure, promotion and hiring, and hence also used by authors in deciding which journal to publish in. Citation-like measures are also used in other fields that do ranking, such as Google's PageRank algorithm, software metrics, college and university rankings, and business performance indicators.

The h-index is an author-level metric that measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications, initially used for an individual scientist or scholar. The h-index correlates with obvious success indicators such as winning the Nobel Prize, being accepted for research fellowships and holding positions at top universities. The index is based on the set of the scientist's most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other publications. The index has more recently been applied to the productivity and impact of a scholarly journal as well as a group of scientists, such as a department or university or country. The index was suggested in 2005 by Jorge E. Hirsch, a physicist at UC San Diego, as a tool for determining theoretical physicists' relative quality and is sometimes called the Hirsch index or Hirsch number.

The Science Citation Index Expanded – previously entitled Science Citation Index – is a citation index originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and created by Eugene Garfield. It was officially launched in 1964 and is now owned by Clarivate. The indexing database covers more than 9,200 notable and significant journals, across 178 disciplines, from 1900 to the present. These are alternatively described as the world's leading journals of science and technology, because of a rigorous selection process.

<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 Analytics. It has been integrated with the Web of Science and is accessed from the Web of Science-Core Collections. It provides information about academic journals in the natural sciences and social sciences, including impact factors. The JCR was originally published as a part of 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.

<i>British Journal of Pharmacology</i> English academic journal

The British Journal of Pharmacology is a biweekly peer-reviewed medical journal covering all aspects of experimental pharmacology. It is published for the British Pharmacological Society by Wiley-Blackwell. It was established in 1946 as the British Journal of Pharmacology and Chemotherapy. The journal obtained its current title in 1968.

Current Contents is a rapid alerting service database from Clarivate Analytics, formerly the Institute for Scientific Information and Thomson Reuters. It is published online and in several different printed subject sections.

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.

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.

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.

<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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