Which source to use for what:
International coverage – Google Scholar and Scopus do a lot more of this than Web of Science.
Non-English language publications – Scopus and to some extent Google Scholar. This is a known weakness of Web of Science.
Interdisciplinary areas – Scopus and Google Scholar. This is a known weakness of Web of Science.
“High-impact” publications – Web of Science.
Peer reviewed journals – Scopus and Web of Science. GS known to cover a lot of non-reviewed.
Non-journal coverage – Google Scholar has more unique types of materials (PDF files, Word docs, technical reports, theses and dissertations, etc.). Web of Science and Scopus both have “some” proceedings and books but they are mainly covering journal articles.
Book coverage – Google Scholar excels at this way more than the others as it covers Google Books content along with other freely-accessible online publications.
Authors with common names – Scopus and Web of Science can easily help distinguish between similar author names.
(Last updated Oct 5. 2018)
|Features||Scopus||Web of Science Core Collection||Google Scholar|
|Number of journals||21,950
(22,800 if include trade pubs)
(20,556 if include ESCI)
|Proceedings||8 million||10.5 million||Unknown|
|Focus||Physical sciences, health sciences, life sciences, social sciences & humanities||Science, technology, social sciences, arts and humanities||All subject areas|
|Non-English||Yes, if has an English abstract; 22% of journals are non-English||Yes, if has an English abstract||Articles published in many languages|
|# Published outside North America||16,000||14,420
(20,420 if include ESCI)
|Interdisciplinary field coverage||Strength||Weakness||Strength|
|Export records||Yes - en masse||Yes - en masse||Yes - en masse if you mark records which saves to My Library - then export from within My Library|
|Export reports||Robust - many options||Export to Excel (and text)||Copy/Paste only|
|Author profiles||Auto-generated by Scopus – edits only done by Scopus staff||Author-created as part of ResearcherID – edited by authors||Author created and edited|
Disclaimer: Web of Science coverage in this chart refers to the Web of Science Core Collection excluding Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) unless noted otherwise.
Credits: Table originally modified from Scopus vs. Web of Science Comparison Chart (from Univ of Washington Health Sciences Library), information from the ADAT Database Comparison Tool, and the HLWIKI Canada page. All of which are no longer available.