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Scopus: Comparisons

Scopus vs. Web of Science vs. Google Scholar

Which source to use for what:

International coverageGoogle Scholar and Scopus do a lot more of this than Web of Science.

Non-English language publicationsScopus and to some extent Google Scholar. This is a known weakness of Web of Science.

Interdisciplinary areasScopus and Google Scholar. This is a known weakness of Web of Science.

“High-impact” publicationsWeb of Science.

Peer reviewed journalsScopus and Web of Science. GS known to cover a lot of non-reviewed.

Non-journal coverageGoogle 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 coverageGoogle 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 namesScopus and Web of Science can easily help distinguish between similar author names.

Comparison Chart

Scopus vs. Web of Science vs. Google Scholar

(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)
13,100
(20,556 if include ESCI)
Unknown
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
Period covered 1970- 1900- Unknown
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)
Unknown
Interdisciplinary field coverage Strength Weakness Strength
Updated Daily Daily Unknown
Developer/Producer Elsevier Clarivate Analytics Google
Citation analysis Yes Yes No
Mark records Yes Yes Yes
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
Alerts service Yes Yes Yes
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
Strengths
  • Visually stunning author and citation reports
  • International and specialized disciplinary coverage
  • Includes Altmetrics when available (on abstract page)
  • Includes in-press articles
  • Covers only "journals of influence"
  • Greater time period covered
  • More options for institutional citation analysis than Scopus.
  • Organization name unification
  • Publisher neutral (they are an info provider, not a publisher)
  • Includes all types of documents - e.g., tutorials, posters, presentations
  • Finds more citations in most subject areas
  • Book coverage via Google Books and free online publications.
  • International and interdisciplinary coverage
Weaknesses
  • Early reports pointed out weak in social sciences and humanities
  • Studies show still weak in sociology and physics/astronomy
  • Errors in records
  • Covers only "journals of influence"
  • Poorer coverage of interdisciplinary journals than Scopus
  • Difficulty searching unusual author name formats - hyphenated, umlauts, etc.
  • Hard to search common author names
  • Few sorting options
  • Questionable content quality
  • Problems correctly ingesting meta-data from PDF files
  • Many non-peer-reviewed sources
  • Have to create a Scholar Citation Profile to create reports

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.

Sources: Clarivate Analytics webpages about Web of Science Core Collection and personal communication with their staff; Scopus Coverage Content Guide.