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Citation Indexes: Scopus & Web of Science

How to use Scopus and Web of Science for basic research and in-depth literature searching.


Scopus is a citation index: it collects abstracts and citation data for all articles published by the set of academic journals included in its indexes based on specific criteria.

A screenshot of a graph of Documents by year from a Scopus analysis of search resultsCitation indexes also track how often papers are cited, and it is through this citation analysis that you can get a sense of what people have written and what, based on the citations, are considered either foundational papers in the field or are new enough to be necessary to a review of the current trends. This citation data can be used to analyze scholarly research in many ways, including by topic, author, affiliation, publication, time period, and other factors. When looking for articles for a review article (or literature review), using Scopus is the best way to make sure you're reading the articles you should be.

Scopus includes a few very useful ways to analyze articles in groups, either as a collection of search results or as the articles that all cite a particular article. Here is an image of the "Documents by year" graph for articles in a search, showing the how many articles per year were published on that topic.

The Database

Database Help

Sources (Journals, Conference Proceedings, Book Series) and Coverage:

Using Scopus as an Author

When you have a publication in a journal indexed by Scopus, the algorithm assigns you a Scopus Author Profile, which you must log into and claim in order to eliminate duplicate records and inaccurate information.

  • Unique identifier: A unique identifier will link your works to you, and not others with similar names. The Author Profile assigns you a Scopus Author ID and also allows you to link your ORCID, if you have one, for wider citation use. However, Scopus links articles to authors through use of an algorithm, and it is up to the individual authors to check the accuracy of these links and ensure that the citations associated with their Scopus Author ID are correct.
  • Metrics: The Scopus Author Profile tracks citations to all of your associated articles (if they're indexed in Scopus). You can get a total citation count as well as an h-index score, indicating the ratio of total articles published to citations.

Scopus Metrics

A common way to judge the effect of a journal on a field of research is through using citation data, tracking the number of times articles are cited, to aid in the decision-making process for those who might need this data: researchers looking to publish, librarians looking to subscribe, or promotion & tenure committees looking to judge the work done by researchers. But it's important to remember that the value of a journal to the field might be seen in measures other than citation data, so while it's a good data point to keep in mind when making your own decision, it should not be the only one you consider.


Journal Metrics

Scopus' journal-level metrics include the following:

  • CiteScore: "CiteScore calculates the average number of citations received in 4 calendar years to 5 peer-reviewed document types (research articles, review articles, conference proceedings, data papers, and book chapters) published in a journal in the same four years." That is, the number of citations a journal receives in a 4-year period divided by the number of total documents published in that same 4-year period. The CiteScore methodology was revised in 2020 and all current CiteScore data has been updated.
  • SCImago Journal Rank (SJR), by Scimago Research Group: "[T]he average number of weighted citations received in the selected year by the documents published in the selected journal in the three previous years."
  • Source-Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP), by CWTS Journal Indicators: "[T]he number of citations given in the present year to publications in the past three years divided by the total number of publications in the past three years."

Article Metrics

Scopus metrics:

  • Total number of citations (per date range)
  • Citations per year (per date range)
  • Citation benchmarking
  • Field-weighted Citation Impact ("FWCI is the ratio of the document's citations to the average number of citations received by all similar documents over a three-year window.")

PlumX altmetrics (tracking article activity online)

  • Usage (clicks, downloads, saves, etc.)
  • Mentions (news articles, blogposts)
  • Captures (bookmarks)
  • Social Media (shares, tweets, etc.)
  • Citations (journal indexes and patents)

Author Metrics

h-index and h-graph: "A researcher's performance based on career publications, as measured by the lifetime number of citations that each published article receives; h-indices indicate a balance between productivity (scholarly output) and citation impact (citation count)."

For more information: