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Using the Web of Science: Search tools

Searching, quantitatively analysing and keeping up to date using the Web of Science multidisciplinary and international bibliographic database.

Running a search query

Select Web of Science in the drop-down menu.

Enter your query in the search bar to search for a publication according to the topic, author name, title, etc. (the criterion is selected using the drop-down menu).

Then, click on

Note: since the data is in English, only English terms and key words can be used for the search.

Running a search using an equation to ensure relevant results

On the Search page:

  • Use boolean operators and truncation operators to write your search equation in the search bar.

  • Select Topic in the drop-down menu.

Use the Current Limits section to adjust your search settings:                                                                  

  • Use the TimeSpan feature to specify the period over which you wish to run a search.

  • In the Citation Databases, select the thematic databases in which you wish to run a search.

  • Decide whether or not to activate the Auto-suggest publication names function. Set this parameter to ON if you want the system to automatically run searches on the variants of key words.

Run the search.

Using truncation operators

Truncation operators are symbols used to query databases. These symbols allow you to replace one or more letters.

  • * is used to replace 0 or several letters at the end of a word. It is the most widely used symbol. WOS also allows left-hand truncation.

Example of a right-hand truncation: boatboat, boats, boating
Example of a left-hand truncation:
*benthos : macrobenthos, macrozoobenthos, microzoobenthos

  •  ? is used to replace exactly 1 letter anywhere within a word. This symbol is called a wildcard character.

Example of the use of wildcard character: Wom?n: woman, women

  •  $ is used to replace either no letter or a single (1) letter.

For example: flav$r: flavor, flavour

Using boolean operators

Boolean operators are used to find information or a document by establishing a logical connection between search terms or key words.

  • AND: Results will necessarily contain the two terms in the query. 

  • OR: Results will contain at least one of the two terms in the query.

  • NOT: Results will contain the 1st term but not the second.

 Tip: Use " " for an exact phrase. For example: "climate change"

Using cited references and citing articles

  • Click on the bibliographic reference of an article in the result page.

  • You are now in the article’s reference.

  • The blue section on the right-hand side provides information such as:

The number of times the article was cited by others. Click on the number to access the list of articles citing this reference.

The number of references cited by the article, i.e. the number of references in the bibliography. Click on the number to access the list of articles cited by this reference.

 A tool that allows you to display a graphical representation of the citation relationships (cited references and citing articles) between an article and other articles.

Backward (left) are the references cited by the article. Forward (right) are the references citing the article (times cited).

The lines represent the links to these bibliographic references.

Running a search on cited references

To know how many times and by whom an author’s publications have been cited.

  • Click on the tab  

You can run a search on the author, the name of the documents (journal title, book title, patent number), the publication year, etc.

For instance, if you are searching for an author:

  • Result display 


You can view the articles citing this author and the number of times the article has been cited. Running this search allows you to find bibliographic information that are relevant to the author but do not immediately appear in the results of a basic search using the "Search" button. To view all the bibliographic data available, it is recommended to click on "Show expanded titles".