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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

Features Scopus Web of Science Google Scholar
Number of journals 19,809 12,331 Unknown
Proceedings 5.3 million 110,000 (only ones that were published in journals) Unknown
Focus Physical sciences, health sciences, life sciences, social sciences Science, technology, social sciences, arts and humanities All subject areas
Period covered 1966- 1900- Unknown
Non-English Yes No Yes
International Excellent Poor Excellent
Interdisciplinary Excellent Poor Excellent
Updated Daily Weekly Unknown
Developer/Producer Elsevier Thomson Reuters 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 Copy/Paste only Copy/Paste only
Alerts service Yes Yes Yes
  • More versatile search tool with advantages in functionality
  • Visually stunning author and citation reports
  • International and interdisciplinary coverage
  • Includes Altmetrics when available (on abstract page)
  • Covers high-impact journals
  • Greater time period of coverage
  • More options for citation analysis for institutions
  • Better coverage of social sciences and arts/humanities than Scopus
  • 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
  • Early reports pointed out weak in social sciences and humanities
  • Studies show still weak in sociology and physics/astronomy
  • Errors in records
  • Only journals it covers are mainstream, high-impact journals
  • Poor coverage of interdisciplinary areas and emerging fields
  • 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 (including Conference Proceedings Citation Index, Book Citation Index, and Century of Science which are all separately purchasable components).

Credits: Table modified from Scopus vs. Web of Science Comparison Chart (with permission ofUniv of Washington Health Sciences Library), information from the ADAT Database Comparison Tool, and the HLWIKI Canada page with comparison information.