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Literature searching for Medical and Dental Sciences

Activity 3D: Web of Science

Panopto video from Academic Skills, Library Services.

From Clarivate Analytics, supplier of Web of Science.



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*"

Save Results in Web of Science:

  • Tick the box for those items you wish to save 
  • Export' for drop-down menu of options such as Endnote Online
    • Or  use the Add to marked list 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"

The whole of your search will be saved for retrieval at another time in the History area: see the History link at the top of the Web of Science screen. 

History (Search History)

  • In the History area, you can re-run a search by clicking on the number of results found by that search

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