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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
||words must be within n distance 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
You can create alerts for new articles within your searches.
Use Login (if you already have an account) or create an account in Register.
After having logged in perform your search.
Next click in the toolbar on the left corner on Set alert
to receive an email with a link to new articles in Scopus) and click on Create. Or click on Set feed to receive articles in your RSS reader.
Do you want to know if certain articles are cited in Scopus?
At the article in question, click on Set citation alert in the right hand column.
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 language, source type, country etc.
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
Search by subject
Type your search words in 'Document Search' and use the default option 'Article title, Abstract, keywords'.
Use English search terms (if other languages are not needed).
If necessary, limit by period ('Date Range') document type or Open Access articles.
Searching for an author
- Choose "Authors' in the top bar and fill in the details of the author you are searching for (see the examples on the screen)
- Select the name of the author in the next screen for more information about this author (for example her/his H-index = index for the scientific output and impact of a scientist/scholar)
- Click on the number below 'Documents' to view the articles of this author
Information on journals covered by Scopus
- Click on Sources in the top bar
- Search by subject area, title, publisher or ISSN, click 'Apply'
- 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'
- You can also choose to export your list to an excel-document
- 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.
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 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
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 Lens.org, they offer a nice set of analytical graphics.
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.
Sort by relevance
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
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
- Here choose Source title (via the dropdown menu) and enter the word 'polymer'.