Skip to Main Content

Database Comparisons

A summary of database comparisons, particularly focusing on Google Scholar and other large research databases. It deliberately focuses on content and search features rather than pricing as this varies for each subscribing institution.

Which Source to Use for What:

Coverage of journals published outside the U.S.Google Scholar and Scopus do a lot more of this than Web of Science.

Non-English language publicationsGoogle Scholar will find more of these.

Interdisciplinary field coverageScopus and Google Scholar cover more journals in fields that span multiple disciplines.

“High-influence” publicationsWeb of Science.

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

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 Jan. 13, 2022)

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
Period Covered 1970 to present 1945-present; if Century of Science purchased, coverage back to1900 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)
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, but requires login
Export Records Yes - en masse Yes - en masse Copy/Paste only
Alerts Service Yes Yes Yes
Author Profiles Yes Yes Yes
  • 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"
  • Coverage back to 1900
  • 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
  • Early reports pointed out weak in social sciences and humanities
  • Studies show still weak in sociology and physics/astronomy
  • Typographical errors in records
  • Covers only "journals of influence"
  • Difficulty searching unusual author name formats: hyphenated, compound names, umlauts, etc.
  • Punctuation issues - e.g., ampersands in journal titles.
  • Difficult to narrow down common author name searches
  • Few sorting options
  • Questionable content
  • 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.