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Web of Science (EN): Find out more

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Operators and wildcards in Web of Science

In Web of Science you can use the following operators:

  • AND = both terms must be included
  • OR = at least one of the terms must be included
  • NOT = the term must NOT be included
  • Use NEAR/x to find sources with search terms that are used within a certain distance. Replace the  x for the maximal amount of words between both terms. For example (Germany NEAR/10 "monetary union") gives results where the term "Germany" is found within 10 words from the term "monetary union"

Read more about the use of operators in Web of Science

In Web of Science you can use the following Wildcards:

  • The asterisk (*)  can be used to replace a group of letters (including no letter) 
  • The question mark (?) replaces 1 letter
  • The dollar sign ($) replaces 0 or 1 letter

Read more about the use of wildcards in Web of Science.

  • For 'exact phrase' search use "... ..." = the terms must be included together and in exactly the same order and spelling

Also good to know

  • On the Search Results page you also find the ‘Copy query link’ (left side of page, below query box), so you can share your search query with other Web of Science usersWeb of Science copy query link
  • You can export up to 500 records at one time to a reference manager, with an exception for EndNote Desktop to which you can export up to 1.000 records

Advanced search

Web of Science advanced search box 2022


The Advanced Search includes a query builder that can help you to create more complicated search queries.
Choose your field code, type your search words combined with operators (for example AND, OR, NEAR/x) and choose 'Add to query"  to see a preview of your search query. You can also add a date range if applicable.
Click the 'Search' button to perform the search and go to the result page. 

Searching for researcher/author records

Web of Science Researchers search box 2022

  • Choose, via the dropdown menu, to search by the researcher's/author's name, Author identifiers (Web of Science ResearcherID, ORCID) or organization
  • Enter the author's name or identifier, you can also add name variations if you know them, then click Search
  • In the result screen you can refine your search by using the checkboxes to select name variations, organization, subject categories or country. Click the Refine button to apply your choices to the list of author records
  • See a preview of details for this author's record. Click the author's name to see the full view
  • Authors/researchers may have multiple records within Web of Science. Use the checkboxes to select the records that belong to the same author/researcher, then click View as Combined Record to see them together
  • Click the View citation report option to get more information on the authors citation scores

Cited References search

Next to searching for literature the Web of Science also offers the option of searching for citations. With Cited References you can search for example for citations to a specific author, work or DOI. You can also search with a combination of fields, for example a journal title (work), volume and issue. Click on the button "Search"  to see the citations.

Web of Science cited reference search 2022

Authors often cite the same source in different ways. This list shows all of the variations in Web of Science that match your search. Click Expand All under Cited Author or Cited Work to see more details about each citation.

Use the check boxes to select all of the cited references that you are interested in, and then click See Results.

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.

For researchers

Sort your search results

The default sort order is by relevance. Results which best match your query, for instance because the search terms occur in the title, come on top In the dropdown menu you can find the option to:

  1. sort by date
  2. sort by citations
  3. sort by usage count, recently added, conference/publication title and first author.

Too few results, what to do now?

If you get too few results, you can:

  • Use less specific terms
  • Broaden you search by adding alternatives to your search terms in an OR relation (for instance: segregation OR discrimination)
  • Broaden your search by entering different word versions: either in an OR relation (for instance: segregation OR segregated) or by breaking off your search terms on the word stem (truncation) if the search engine supports this option (for instance: segregat*)
  • Broaden your search by removing an aspect/variable
  • Check (again) if you used the correct spelling of your terms
  • Use (also) other search engines and databases

Too many results, what to do now?

If there are too many results to show or view 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 to 'Citation Index'(dropdown menu 'Editions'
  • Limit the number of results by the 'Web of  Science Categories' indicated, to the left of the search result
  • Limit the number of results by Publication Date or Document Type
  • Limit the number of results with one of the other options