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Using Web of Science for your research and writing

A thorough literature search in the early stages of research holds the key to formulating a worthwhile research question. Literature searches continue to buttress your study by providing new inputs that can guide your research along possible future directions, and also allow you to update the study approach, design and protocols as needed. To hone in on the best sources for your literature search, it is important to use established bibliometric databases.

The power of Web of Science

Web of Science (WoS) by Clarivate Analytics is a widely used platform that aggregates multidisciplinary scholarly output from several established databases. It hosts upwards of 34,000 journals, 19,000 books and 220,000 conference proceedings, as well as millions of data sets and patents. WoS is a reputable resource because it includes only journals that meet strict evaluation criteria and demonstrate adequate editorial rigor and quality. In addition, WoS includes a subset or Core Collection of records from over 21,000 of the world’s highest impact journals.

Using Web of Science at different stages of research

You can make the most of what WoS has to offer at nearly every stage of research and writing.

a. Find and read articles

As a registered user, you can browse articles or follow relevant article suggestions to find the relevant literature and stay up to date.

b. Find connections between articles

WoS indexes the cited and citing references of all its entries. In this way, it maps linkages between the indexed research and the broader literature, allowing you to track interconnected networks of research papers.

c. Identify impactful studies

You can identify highly cited studies (articles in top percentiles according to year or field) that have had the greatest impact in a field or across disciplines.

d. Write review articles

Article linkages and identification of high-impact studies allow you to appraise a massive amount of content. This stands you in good stead to write regular literature reviews and even more rigorous, scientific reviews such as systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

e. Find suitable target journals

You can use the Master Journal List and Manuscript Matcher to identify the perfect journal to which to submit your manuscript. (For a free tool closer home, view our Journal Finder.)

Tips to effectively use Web of Science for your research work

Here are some tips for utilising the power of WoS for your research.

a. Optimise searches

Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT, NEAR/x), quotation marks (e.g. “nonhost resistance”) for exact phrases and sorting options based on your need (e.g. by relevance, date, or citations). The query builder option lets you combine searches for advanced search.

b. Analyse publications for peripheral (yet useful) information

In the WoS Core Collection, sort papers by author, organisation or funding agency to get insights into who is publishing prolifically on a topic and who is funding such projects. Such information can be beneficial when looking for collaborators and grants.

c. Get important bibliometric indices

You can obtain journal information (such as impact factor and journal citation reports) for specific journals, which can guide you in finding the right journal for your manuscript. (You may also view our Journal Selection Service, through which our experts select up to five suitable journals for your paper and provide their recommendation on the topmost journal.)


Searching the literature should be an ongoing process so that you can stay on top of the latest in your field and be fully updated on the topic you are working on. Databases such as WoS have a lot to offer, from literature discovery to targeted literature searches, from journal selection to identification of trending topics of interest, and much more!


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