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Training scholarly information handling for geoscience faculty & PhDs: 2E: searching for journal articles


In many disciplines journal articles are the bread and butter of scholarly communication. This page has information on how to find them.

On this page you'll find:

  1. Searching for articles - general info
  2. Lists of available journals
  3. Scopus
  4. Google Scholar

You might try:

  1. Using the library journal lists to see which journals are available in your field and whether they are peer reviewed
  2. Using Scopus to:
    1. search articles with your search terms
    2. search for articles by author name
    3. find more articles by following links to cited and citing articles or to more of the same author or journal
    4. find authors' affiliations and contact details
  3. Using Google Scholar to:
    1. also find articles that treat your topic not as the main subject but only in passing
    2. find articles from journals not covered by Scopus (e.g. non-English or some journals in humanities
    3. find books that cite a certain article
    4. Easily find Open Access versions of articles
  4. Use Web of Science to
    1. Search for a specific cited reference and check which papers cite that reference

Searching for articles

Together with books, scientific articles are the most important publication form in science. The most important search engines for articles are:

All search engines have their strong and weak points and each discipline has its own set of best search engines. Your search will be more efficient and your search results will be more complete if you take the trouble to get to know them. When exploring the coverage and opties of search engines use the system's help files but also tutorials and LibGuides available on the web or on our LibGuides homepage.

Another good way to find articles is by following the literature references and citations from and to earlier found articles.

In the special LibGuide searching for articles UBU LibGuide artikelen zoeken you will find all possibilities and impossibilities listed.

Lists of available journals

All journals that the library has available online are listed by title, subject and publisher in our journal listing. These lists also indicate peer review and exact years of holdings.

Print only journals are in the library catalogue.

The LibGuide Searching for Articles has extensive information on all kinds of other journal listings that provide metrics, impact factors and more (currently only in the Dutch version).

Scopus: multidisciplinary search for articles and book chapters, with citation data

ScopusScopus is a large search engine containing some 50 million scientific journal articles and conference proceedings. Its most important features are:

  • Multidisciplinarity: all disciplines are present, although arts and humanities still somewhat lagging
  • Contains almost exclusively material in the English language
  • Containing extensive citation information from articles (complete from 1996 onwards, but also many from older years)
  • Containing also data of (chapters of) ten of thousands of books
  • In Scopus many journals are indexed from the very first volume (sometimes even before 1900)
  • Scopus cooperates quite well with RefWorks and both offer options for integration when you have an indivual Scopus account within the UU license
  • The default order of the search results list is chronological, but you can also sort by relevance
  • All sources searched with Scopus are peer reviewed
  • search engine for patents is included

Scopus has an excellent coverage for the medical and natural sciences, technics and geosciences. Also the social sciences are well represented. Humanities is less well covered, but we are still talking about millons of articles, absolutely speaking.

Scopus offers very good options to follow the network of citations between articles.

In the special LibGuide Scopus UBU LibGuide Scopus you will find detailed information about all the possiblilites and bonuses of Scopus.

Google Scholar: fast and with full text search

Google Scholar is a large search engine for scholarly publications. It searches primarily journal articles and, contrary to almost all other search engines, searches the full text. From Google Books the data of a large number of scientific books are included in Google Scholar. Also in this respect Google Scholar differs from classical scientific search engines such as Scopus or Web of Science.

Google Scholar's special features listed:

  • you search articles as well as (a selection of) books
  • your search is full text, so you will also find sources in which your search terms are only touched upon
  • Google Scholar does not tell you what publications are included and what publications are not: you will have to find out by trial and error
  • the journal selection is less strict than in Web of Science or Scopus: as a result you will also find non-peer reviewed material
  • the order of results is also based on the number of received citations: that is why more recent publications are harder to find; always use the menu to filter on recent years!
  • if you want to have links to Refworks you must choose this as your Bibliography Manager in the preferences
  • only if you access Google Scholar via the Utrecht University Library website you will be shown the UBUlink next to the titles

In the special Google Scholar LibGuide UBU LibGuide Google Scholar you will find all you want to know about successfully using this remarkable search engine

Web of Science: multidisciplinary article search, with citation data

Web of Science Web of Science is a search engine for scientific and scholarly literature in all subject areas.

For many articles, it contains the references given by the author, as well as the citations of that particular article by other authors. That way you can easily find related articles and you can also recover the impact of a major article.

  • For Sciences and Social Sciences, you will find publications from 1900, for the Humanities from 1975 onwards.
  • Citations go back in time a long way, further than in Scopus.
  • You can obtain articles quickly via the UBU-link
  • References can be saved in RefWorks and Endnote.

The special Web of Science LibGuide UBU LibGuide Web of Science (in Dutch) gives the details of the many search possibilities and extras of Web of Science.

Scopus versus Web of Science. The differences.

Scopus versus WoS

The market for multidisciplinary citation databases is dominated by Web of Science and Scopus. Web of Science is older (started in 1961) and has a very solid reputation among scholars. Scopus is the young contender (2004), but is now also very well known worldwide. The databases have become more and more alike, but there are still some important differences.

Strong points of Scopus

  • Broader coverage: more journals included (>21,000 compared to 12,000 in WoS)
  • Better coverage of journals from Asia and South, Middle and Eastern Europe
  • Includes over 450,000 pre-1900 documents
  • Also includes books & book chapters with full citation info
  • More records have an abstract (WoS only >1991/92 for (Soc.) Science and >2000 for Arts&Humanities)
  • Better support for author search
  • Availability of many third party apps with special functionality
  • Much more generous download limit (20,000)
  • Better coverage in the subject areas technology, geosciences and social sciences

Strong points  of Web of Science

  • Deeper coverage: all items in a journal are indexed: editorials, letters to the editor, obituaries, introductions to special issues, book reviews etc.
  • Also data on citations in articles published before 1996 (Scopus plans to add cited references from 1970-1996 articles)
  • Good book review coverage a plus for Arts & Humanities
  • Link to Journal Citation Reports

Size of Scopus and WoS 1900-2012

Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search are also multidisciplinary scholarly databases with citation information, but support for citation analysis is limited and their data quality control is not as rigid as that of WoS and Scopus.