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Major citation databases

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Tools containing research performance data

Choosing the right tool for the job

Although a number of different databases provide citation counts for the documents they contain, three major sources of bibliometric content are Scopus, Web of Science and Google Scholar.

Which resource should you choose? 

There is no straightforward answer to this—each resource indexes a different combination of publications, so the list of your documents contained in each, as well as their associated citation counts, are likely to differ.  No single citation index will give you a complete citation count.  By searching a number of citation indices you can gain a better idea of the actual citation count for a particular article.

Web of Science

Web of Science is composed of multiple citation indices owned by Thomson Reuters.  Searching by author using the "Author" field on the main search page is one way to determine the citation activity to an author’s publications.  Carrying out this kind of search can help in the retrieval of a list of works an individual has written; however it may involve some manual sorting to ensure that the documents in the list should indeed be attributed to the researcher under consideration.

You can also run an “Author Search” in the database’s Core Collection by selecting the Core Collection from the top dropdown menu, and then using the next dropdown menu to switch from a Basic Search to an Author Search. Follow the prompts to Enter Author Name, Select Research Domain, and Select Organization.  Although potentially quicker than the method described above, one drawback to this method is the potential of excluding content indexed in the Web of Science database outside of their Core Collection, and their associated citation counts.  Again, this search may involve some manual sorting of the results list to ensure that the documents retrieved should indeed be attributed to the researcher under consideration.

Once you have generated a list of publications by a particular author, you can generate a citation report to view graphs and summary data.

Watch a video detailing this process: Web of Science Citation Report.

Something to consider when carrying out this kind of analysis is the propensity for small errors made by authors in their reference lists. Web of Science takes this into account with their Cited Reference Search option. A Cited Reference Search can potentially provide a more accurate citation count for a particular paper.

Watch a video detailing this process: Web of Science Core Collection: How to do a Cited Reference Search.

A Cited Reference Search can also be carried out to determine citation counts for non-journal literature such as books, and to determine citation counts for items that have not been indexed in Web of Science, but have been cited by documents indexed in the resource.

InCites

InCites is a product from Clarivate Analytics that uses Web of Science data and allows for numerous levels of bibliometric analysis – individual, organization, region and research area. This product is one place to find normalized values that account for citation rate differences across subject areas, years, journals and document types.

InCites training videos: here.

Scopus

Scopus allows you to create a list of works an individual has written by searching by author using the "Authors" field on the main search page. You can also run an “Author Search” by selecting it from the top tab options.  Both approaches may involve some manual sorting to ensure that the documents in the list should indeed be attributed to the researcher under consideration.

Once you have generated a list of publications by a particular author, you can select the items and then “View citation overview” to view graphs and summary data that illustrate the citation activity for the author’s publications.

Google Scholar

Publish or Perish software allows you to search Google Scholar for your work and determine bibliometric values without a Google Scholar Author Profile, however, you’ll have the greatest amount of control by creating a Google Scholar Author Profile and associating your documents with that profile.

Efforts have been made by a group of researchers at the University of Waterloo to use Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar to come up with a single value for a researcher’s h-index and citation counts.  View a guide that explains the process in detail or read an article about the process. .

Other Databases

It could very well be that your area of research does not receive good coverage in Scopus, Web of Science or Google Scholar, but receives better coverage in one of the databases listed below. In that case, you may want to consult the citation counts provided by the following individual databases. Keep in mind, these databases may not have the citation analysis functionality like that of Scopus or Web of Science. You may end up having to export data (when possible) to another file format in order to carry out an analysis.

SciFinder:
For each article you can select “Get Citing” from under “Get Related Citations”.

PubMed (Medline):
In individual article records, there is a section titled “Cited by _ PubMed Central articles”, which takes you to a list of the articles available for free in PubMed Central (separate from PubMed itself) that have cited that article.

MathSciNet:
It is possible to click on the “Author Citations” tab and search by author name to get a list of that person’s articles in MathSciNet, as well as a citation count from articles from the subset of MathSciNet’s Reference List Journals. The list is organized in such a manner that one could easily determine the h-index for those articles and their citing articles in that database.

IEEE Xplore:
Click on the “Cited By” tab in each article’s record to get a list of the documents citing that article. Clicking on the “Metrics” tab will give comparison citation counts from Scopus and Web of Science as well.

ProQuest databases (including Philosopher’s Index, Sociological Abstracts):
Gives a “Cited By” count on the right hand side for each individual document.

EBSCO databases (Academic Search Complete):
Gives a “Times Cited in this Database” count above the PDF on the search results page, and the item record page, for some documents.

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page last updated on: Monday 25 March 2019
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