Citation indexes collect abstracts and citation data for all articles published by the set of academic journals included in their indexes based on specific criteria. Scopus and Web of Science are general subject with a strong focus in STEM. SciFinder-n, from the American Chemical Society, has a chemistry focus, while PubMed, from the National Institutes of Health, is for biomedical literature.
These databases 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), these tools are the best way to make sure you're reading the articles you should be.
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