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Literature searching for Medical and Dental Sciences

Activity 3D: Web of Science, Scopus

Panopto video from the Academic Skills Centre, Library Services (includes sub-titles).

From Clarivate Analytics, supplier of Web of Science.

Panopto video from the Academic Skills Centre, Library Services (includes sub-titles).

Panopto video from the Academic Skills Centre, Library Services (includes sub-titles).


Web of Science (WoS) is a useful bibliographic database for all subject areas, covering sciences, social sciences as well as arts and humanities.  It has a broad coverage going back to 1900 and is available on FindIt@Bham (databases).

  • Web of Science (All databases) has the broadest coverage
  • For literature reviews using Systematic principles, it is important to note that WoS is a collection of databases: you should state in a methodology which are being used for the review.  In All Databases, you can use the drop-down menu to see the list

There are no subject headings (unlike Ovid databases),  so you must use all of the synonyms and related terms you can think of, as well as remembering alternative word endings. 

Sample Search

  • Do a topic search using keywords from your topic title, or an example such as: 

"Family therapy and learning disabilities"

  • You can enter and combine terms from the first main search page template
  • Use the separate search lines, one above the other, for clarity
  • The speech marks create a phrase search which is more focussed or targeted
  • The asterisk * or truncation symbol searches for words beginning with the letters to the left: therap* searches for therapy, therapist, therapies and so on
  • Use AND - a Boolean operator - between the lines to narrow a search down to being about both aspects, not just one or the other
    • Eg:"learning disability" AND "family therap*"
  • You can also use the Boolean operator OR for alternatives: eg, "family therap*" or "group therap*"

Web of Science screen view with sample search lines

Web of Science is provided by Clarivate Analytics.

Export Results from Web of Science:

  • Tick the box for those items you wish to save 
  • 'Export' has a drop-down menu of options, including' EndNote online' (or 'EndNote desktop' for that version).  This will transfer results directly into EndNote Online, as it is hosted on the same overall platform
  • Alternatively, 'RIS (other reference software)' can also be chosen: this generates a file which can be uploaded into the software

Export options for references in Web of Science


  • Or  use the 'Add to marked list' feature to set up a list of results during your search: then go to the Marked List later, via the top of the screen, and choose options from there
  • See the video "Web of Science to Endnote Online"

Register with Web of Science

  • Register on the Web of Science platform to enable saving search histories (and using EndNote Online referencing software)

Web of Science Register screen view

History (Search History)

  • Once you have registered for an account on the Web of Science platform, and signed in, the whole of your search will be saved for retrieval at another time in the History area. Select the History icon link at the side of the Web of Science screen
  • In the History area, you can re-run a search by clicking on the number of results found by that search

Web of Science screen view with History iconWeb of Science search histories

Like Web of Science, Scopus is multi-disciplinary, and so can be particularly useful for some crossover topics in the areas of public health and social sciences, as well as medicine, science and technology.

For more information on searching Scopus:

  • Scopus guide: Academic Skills Centre - adapted from publisher guide*
  • Following short video

Scopus is provided by Elsevier publishers.

*Elsevier (supplier): official Scopus Guide

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