Search tip #13: Web of Science

Published on
May 25, 2020

Studying at WUR means that you have access to different bibliographic databases, both multidisciplinary and subject specific. Web of Science is an extensive multidisciplinary and publisher-independent database. It has more than 159 million records and 1.7 billion cited references.

Basic search

Start searching for literature in Web of Science (WoS) by using the Basic Search mode and choose in which field you want to start searching. Do not hesitate to explore the “more settings” option.

Web of Science (WoS) uses search operators like Boolean (AND, OR, NOT) and Proximity (NEAR, SAME) operators. The precedence in Web of Science is the following:

  1. NEAR/x
  2. SAME
  3. NOT
  4. AND
  5. OR

You can use parentheses to override this precedence. If you want more information on the specific use of search operators in WoS, check the help function or click here.

Besides using double quotation marks for a phrase search, you can also use wildcards. Remember that databases all have their own search rules and use of wildcards. For WoS:

  • The asterisk (*) represents any group of characters, including no character.
  • The question mark (?) represents any single character.
  • The dollar sign ($) represents zero or one character.

Easy right? Another great feature of Web of Science is its automatic search for plural forms and spelling variations.

Author search

Still in its BETA version, you can now search for an author in Web of Science to see their Web of Science record. You can search for an author by name, ORCID or ResearcherID.

Cited Reference Search

WoS is the inventor of the citation index. WoS lets you easily find out by whom and how many times a certain article has been cited. This function, the Cited Reference Search, gives you the opportunity to quickly start following threads within a few clicks.

Advanced Search

WoS offers a possibility to format your entire search query from scratch by using field tags, search operators, parentheses and wildcards. WoS offers an extensive help menu to guide you through the specific use of Advanced Search.

Save your search history and create an alert.

Create an account, so you can easily save your searches or set up a search alert. This will help you to secure and to manage your literature search, and ensure you stay up-to-date with new scientific literature!

Feeling like you want to give Web of Science a go? Go to the database via > Database and collections > Web of Science and do not forget to log in!