Web of Science

The Web of Science ( ISI Web of Knowledge ) is a fee-based service with several online citation databases, created by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI ) (now Thomson Reuters).


In Web of Science, the user can search for relevant literature in a discipline. In addition to bibliographic data base can also examine:

  • Which articles are cited in the selected record;
  • Quote what other products the selected record.

During indexing, consequently, information in footnotes, annotations, and bibliographies in an article to be analyzed and entered in the Web of Science. With its help determine a measure of the scientific importance of an article, the author and other bibliometric data (see Impact Factor, which refers to the level of journal titles, and h- index, which measures the scientific influence of the author ).

The citations from 1945 collected in the natural sciences of the Science Citation Index (SCI ); from 1956 in the field of social sciences of the Social Sciences Citation Index ( SSCI ); and from 1975 also in the humanities area of ​​the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (A & HCI ). The indices are also available in printed form.

The Web of Science has over pure technical databases ( Chemical Abstracts, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, INSPEC, MLA International Bibliography, EconLit, etc. ) have the advantage of interdisciplinarity, so the wide range of subjects, medicine, natural sciences, humanities, social sciences and economics. However, no products almost entirely from conference proceedings. The subject indexing is rudimentary ( immature ), and the abstracts only go back to 1991. For example Furthermore, the publication behavior from that which (STM ) is in the science, technology, and medicine differs common in the humanities. While scientific communication takes place mainly here in the field of magazine articles, the publication of plays there still in the form of independent works (monographs ) play an important role, which are underrepresented in the Web of Science.

Furthermore, some bibliometric information in the articles are registered not uniform. For example, articles that appeared in Switzerland, have been partially indexed as the origin or Switzerland Suisse. Also abbreviations such as FRG ( Federal Republic of Germany, ie the Federal Republic of Germany ) or GDR ( German Democratic Republic, ie the German Democratic Republic ) are partly used next to the name Germany. The user is therefore well advised to take this into account when searching the database.

The access is free of charge, available at most academic libraries. Many universities have licensing agreements (usually organized by the library) to also access the Web of Science to its own Internet or via a VPN client.

Search options

In Web of Science, there are three different types of searches:

  • General Search;
  • Cited Ref Search;
  • Advanced Search.

In the general search in a simple way the mailbox database can be searched by subject, author, group author, source (after magazine), publication year, address, language and document type.

In the Cited Ref Search you can browse for authors quoted and / or work of certain vintages.

The Advanced Search is for experienced users and allows using abbreviations to search index specific entries of all documents. Thus, the term TS = information retrieval for all documents are researched, the topic in the index field (English Topic ) have the term Information Retrieval. Different search terms can be linked with Boolean operators to refine your search.

Retrieval options

The Web of Science offers both online and offline retrieval options. This feature can be a one hits investigate using the Analyze mode or the other by the button Export to Reference Software store on the computer, there to be further processed using software such as HistCite or CiteSpace.

In the Analyze mode, all retrieved documents by author, country, document type, institute, language, year of publication, source journal and / or topic to sort and list. The new sorted set can be marked, displayed, or turn ranked yet. So there are recursive rank options.

For the use of external retrieval software you can save the search results in the Web of Science as a text file on your own computer. This includes, depending on the scope, several megabytes of memory. One drawback: the Web of Science can be a maximum of 500 results (records) exported to a file. Users need its search results, where store with over 500 hits in multiple files. These can be summarized with HistCite to a file.

When exporting, the user can also specify how detailed its search results should be stored. With the Bibliographic Fields option is used to export only basic bibliographic data. In the Full Record References Cited option, all records including registered citations are stored. For the use of HistCite the Field Tagged option is useful.