Using the Web of Science: Introduction
A major database
Web of Science (WOS) is database of fundamental importance at the international level.
- bibliographic data (references of articles, books, conference papers)
- bibliometric data (number of citations, h-index, etc.)
The bibliographic section covers all disciplines (sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities) but the fields of sciences and medicine are best represented. Data is extracted from a selection of nearly 12,000 journals, over 150,000 conferences and, since 2012, 275,000 books. The interface and data are in English but the information provided covers sources in over 45 languages.
Bibliometric indicator calculations are based on this database at the French as well as the international level. When individual or laboratory assessments are conducted or when projects are being set up, researchers use the database to collect citation data relevant to their publications.
The fact that this database offers information on cited references (references that are cited by authors at the end of their articles) and citing articles (articles that cite a reference within the WOS environment) makes this database an invaluable resource for information retrieval. To date, only one commercial database of this type is available, which is Scopus from the publisher Elsevier.
A database hosted on the Web of Knowledge platform
You can access WOS from the Web of Knowledge (WOK) platform provided your establishment has a subscription.
The subdatabases and publication years to which you will have access will depend on the terms of your organisation’s subscription contract. The highest subscription level provides access to 6 subdatabases with data going back to 1899:
Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED): over 8,600 journals in 150 disciplines published since 1900
Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI): over 3,100 journals in 50 social science disciplines published since 1900
Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI): over 3,000 journals in the arts and humanities published since 1975
Conference Proceedings Citation Index-Science (CPCI-S) and Conference Proceedings Citation Index-Social Science & Humanities (CPCI-SSH), which offer a compilation of over 110,000 conference proceedings issued since 1990
Index Chemicus (IC): over 4.2 million compounds indexed since 1993
Book Citation Index–Science and Book Citation Index–Social Sciences & Humanities: over 275,000 indexed books.
Overall, Web of Science provides access to the content of a selection of nearly 12,000 journals, 150,000 conference proceedings and 275,000 books.
From ISI to Thomson Reuters
Web of Science is a service provided by Thomson Reuters. The platform was created and developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in the 1960s. For this reason, some people still refer to WOS as the "ISI database".
Registering on the platform to benefit from the complete range of options
Tip: create yourself an account on the Thomson Reuters server. This will allow you to:
Save search histories. A search history is a series of search queries run during a work session.
Rerun search queries that you have saved.
Save alerts, be notified of new articles relevant to your topic or written by a particular expert, receive the list of articles of a journal you have selected, and keep up to date on who is citing a given article (citation alerts).
Freely access EndNote Basic, an online simplified version of the reference management software Endnote.
Be notified of the online webinars organised by Thomson Reuters.
To register, simply click on Sign in in the top toolbar then on Register and follow the instructions. You only need to register once. For subsequent visits to WOS, you will only need to enter your email address and password to log on to your account.
To cite this guide
BERTIGNAC, Catherine, FERNANDES, David. "Using the Web of Science". In UBL (Université Européenne de Bretagne). Formadoct. Rennes: UBL, 2010 (last updated on 11 July 2013). Available at: http://en.guides-formadoct.u-bretagneloire.fr//wos