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Combining search terms and wildcards in Scopus

In Scopus you can perform a targeted search with the following operators and wildcards:

"... ..." 'loose phrase': words next to each other but not necessarily in that particular order and including singular/plural variations.
Please note: in many other search engines "..." means exact phrase! See Combining and breaking off search terms
{.. ...} 'exact phrase': words in that exact order and spelled exactly so
AND both terms must occur
OR at least one of the terms must occur
AND NOT the term must not occur
W/n words must be within an 'n' amount of words from each other
* (truncation symbol)

The * symbol represents 0, 1 or more letters.
For instance: vaccin* = vaccin OR vaccines OR vaccination, etc.

? 'wildcard' for 1 random letter

Refine your search in Scopus

If there are too many results to be shown/viewed you can:

  • Adjust the order of results: sort by relevance or the number of citations per article
  • Specify your search by using more specific search terms or by adding an extra subject-related aspect to your search query
  • Limit your search to Subject Areas indicated, in the column left of the search result
  • Limit the number of results by Document Type, for instance reviews; a systematic review is a survey article in which the results of scientific research on a particular subject are summarized
  • Limit the number of results with one of the other options like open access, language, source type, country etc.

Information on journals covered by Scopus

  1. Click on Sources in the top bar
  2. Search by subject area, title, publisher or ISSN (or a combination). You can refine your search  in the left column menu (e.g.only open-access journals, journals from the first quartile, conference proceedings,  etc.). Click 'Apply to confirm your choices
  3. Click 'Find sources' to start searching
  4. On top of your list of search results you can choose to export your list to an excel-document or  make a list of your own ('Save to source list' (account required).
  5. Click on the journal title to see the journal details.

    You will find information per journal on:
  • CiteScore: CiteScore measures average citations received per document published in the serial.
  • SJR= SCImago Journal Rank measures weighted citations received by the serial. Citation weighting depends on subject field and prestige (SJR) of the citing serial. The SJR covers a period of four years.
  • SNIP= Source Normalized Impact per Paper measures actual citations received relative to citations expected for the serial’s subject field.. The SNIP covers a period of four years.
  • CiteScore Rank & Trend gives information on how the journal is ranked within its subject area.
  • Scopus content coverage: gives the amount of documents published and a citation overview per year
  • You can also compare multiple journals: follow the steps above and click on  'compare sources' (right top corner of the screen). Add up to 10 sources to compare.

Visit for more information the Scopus tutorial about analysing journals.

Advanced searching

Scopus advanced search option


On the Advanced Search page you can use the 'query builder' to build and perform more systematic and extended searches.

Select the fieldcode you want to use by typing in the first letter (choose your fields from the list in the right hand column). Type your search terms, combined with the correct operators (for example AND, OR, W/x, {...} etc) and click 'Search'.

You can refine your results by using the options offered to you in the left hand column (for example year of publication, language or publication type).

Combined search

You can also type search queries on separate lines and then combine these lines in your search history at the bottom of the page. Click on the Combine query icon: Scopus combine queries icon(above your search history), check the boxes of the lines you want to combine and choose your operator (AND, OR, AND NOT). Click Show results to perform your search.Scopus combine queries option 2022

TIP! To return from the result page to your Advanced Search query builder, click on the Scopus logo in the left top corner of your screen.

Scopus is working on a new lay out, you can try it yourself. Want to know more? Visit the Scopus Blog, Try the redesigned Scopus Search Results Page!

Searching for an author

Scopus Author search box

  1. Choose "Authors' in the top bar and fill in the details of the author you are searching for (see the examples on the screen)
  2. Select the name of the author in the results screen for more information about this author (for example her/his H-index =  index for the scientific output and impact of a scientist/scholar)
  3. Click on the number below 'Documents'  to view the articles of this author

Search for a 'half known item'

Sometimes you have an idea of the article you are looking for, but not quite. For instance, someone gave you a tip for an important article on your subject.

Say, you know the subject and a word from the journal title

It is about liquid crystals and it has been published in a journal that includes the word 'polymer' in the title.

  • Go to Document Search, select All fields and enter 'liquid crystals'
  • Open an extra search bar with addsearchfield-Scopus
  • Here choose Source title (via the dropdown menu) and enter the word 'polymer'.

Scopus and Web of Science

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 was 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.


  • >23,000 journals (with a better coverage of journals from Asia and South, Middle and Eastern Europe), Scopus covers only scientific articles and no editorials, book reviews etc.
  • >210,000 books and (more and more) book chapters with full citation info
  • Visit the Scopus Content Coverage Guide for up to date numbers
  • Includes over 450,000 pre-1900 documents
  • Includes cited references for articles published after 1970
  • 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

Web of Science

  • >21.000 journals
  • >116.000 books
  • Visit the Web of Science Summary of Coverage for up to date numbers
  • All items in a journal are indexed: editorials, letters to the editor, obituaries, introductions to special issues, book reviews etc.
  • Includes cited references for articles published after 1900
  • Good book review coverage (where Scopus has none) a plus for Arts & Humanities
  • Can sort search result based on number of citations
  • Integration Web of Science ResearcherID with Publons 
  • Link to Journal Citation Reports

Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search (MAS is shutting down by the end of 2021) 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. Relatively new is, they offer a nice set of analytical graphics.

Information elsewhere

Adjust the order of hits: sort by date or by relevance?

The order of your search results may be important, because usually you only look at the first ten or twenty hits.

Results are ordered by year of publication as default (Date (newest)). 
Use the dropdown menu (at the right side of your screen) to create a new sorting order.
For example you can sort  based on relevance, most cited or oldest articles. Or you could order the results alphabetically by first author or source title.


Another used term for sorting by relevance is relevance ranking.
Applied criteria will be: 

  • how often does a search term occur in the document
  • where do search terms occur: in the title, in the summary, at the beginning or at the end
  • how special is a search term within a document in comparison to the other found documents

Analyzing results

In addition to all options to limit the number of results, Scopus also contains an extensive analysis function to learn more about your results.

After a search click on analyze-Scopus  at the top left of the page.

In a number of diagrams Scopus gives a survey of the composition of the results:

  • Documents by year
  • Documents by year by source
  • Documents by author
  • Documents by affiliation (=  the organisation (university, laboratory etc.) to which an author is affiliated)
  • Documents by country
  • Documents by (document)type
  • Documents by subject area
  • Documents by funding sponsor


Do you want to know if certain articles will be cited in Scopus?
Click on the article title and choose Set citation alert in the right hand column.

image of where to set a citation alert in Scopus

Too few results, what to do now?

If you get too few results, you can:

  • Use less specific terms
  • Broaden you search by adding different word versions or alternatives to your search terms in an OR relation (for instance: segregation OR discrimination/ segregation OR segregated);
  • Shorten your search terms on the word stem (truncation), for example: segregat*;
  • Broaden your search by removing an aspect/ variable
  • Check for correct spelling
  • Use other search engines and databases