What is Web of Science?
Web of Science is a powerful citation database containing abstracts to articles and conference proceedings in the health and basic sciences. There is some overlap in content with PubMed, but Web of Science contains many citations that are not indexed in PubMed. Unlike PubMed, Web of Science allows you to find articles that have referenced a particular article by performing a citation search.
The indexes included in our Web of Science subscription are Science Citation Index Expanded (1964-present) and Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Science (2010-present). We also have access to Journal Citation Reports, which provide journal performance metrics so you can critically evaluate the world’s leading scientific journals.
Web of Science can also be used to measure yours or a colleague's scholarly productivity. Please refer to the h-index section of this guide to find out more.
Proximity Searching: Web of Science
Web of Science has one proximity operator — NEAR/(x). NEAR/(x) retrieves records records where the terms joined by the operator are within a specific number of words of each other (the value of x). This is true even when the words are across different fields. For example, helmholtz NEAR/10 will retrieve records where helmholtz apppears within 10 words of electron, in either direction in any field where the search engine is able to search. If you choose not to replace x with a number, Web of Science will retrieve records where the terms joined by NEAR are within 15 words of each other.
Truncation and Wildcards: Web of Science
Web of Sciences uses three wildcards in any field thats allow for words and phrases — the * (asterisk), ? (question mark), and the $ (dollar sign).
* (the asterisk)
The asterisk (*) represents any group of characters, including no character. It is useful when you use right-hand and left-hand truncation when searching for publication titles. For example, *Cell* finds Aging Cell, Biocell, Cell Research and other titles that follow or precede the text string *Cell*. It is also useful when you use left-hand truncation when searching for substances. For example, *phosphate finds diphosphate, monophosphate, triphosphate and other terms that precede the text string *phosphate.
? (question mark)
The question mark (?) represents any single character. The question mark is useful for searching last names of authors where the last character is uncertain. For example, Barthold? finds Bartholdi and Bartholdy. It will not find Barthod.
$ (dollar sign)
The dollar sign ($) represents zero or one character (useful when searching for expressions). The dollar sign is useful for finding both the British and American spellings of the same word. For example, flavo$r finds flavor and flavour.
Phrase or Keyword Searching
Unlike searching MEDLINE via PubMed, Web of Science has no controlled vocabulary thesaurus. You can, however, use basic phrases or keywords to perform a search. Be sure to select "Topic" from the search bar drop down menu before launching your search.
Sometimes you may get too many results searching by topic. Try a similar search restricting your phrase or keywords to the title only (using the drop down search bar menu), or restrict major terms to the title and search for supplemental concepts by topic.
Other search fields you can use are:
Filters and Limits: Web of Science
Web of Science has few filters on its basic search pages. Additional limiters are available on the Advanced Search page.
Timespan: Users can specify the date range, or select preset limits such as past 5 years, all years, or past 4 weeks.
More Settings: These options change depending on the database you select. Options include:
- Search Language to Use
- Default Number of Fields to Display
- Citation Indexes