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Course Research Impacts: Finding articles on a topic

Finding articles on a topic

In this part of the course we show you how to find articles on a particular topic, within Web of Science. Topics covered are:

  • Search settings
  • Search fields
  • Search operator

Search settings

These are the default settings in Web of Science:

  • All databases within the Web of Science Core Collection are searched, but you can select one or more particular databases: under Editions: All you can unmark the databases you don’t want to include.
  • All years are searched by default. when you use the + Add date range button you can add an Index Date, that's the period the records were added to the database. If you want to limit by publication year, it's best to use the Publication Years refine option on the search results page.
  • Lemmatization rules are applied automatically in Topic and Title search queries, for English-language search terms. With lemmatization vocabulary, phonological and spelling variants are searched as well. For example: when you enter behavior, both behavior and behaviour are used in the search. Lemmatization is not used when search terms are used with wildcards and/or truncation.

Search fields

You can search Web of Science in several ways. The basic search is the default:

Web of Science start of Basic Search

On the startpage of Web of Science you find one search bar (you can add more by clicking the link Add row). You select a search field in the drop down menu at the right side. 

You can search by, for example:

  • Topic: searches all words – in article titles, abstracts, author keywords, keywords plus field (these are index terms created by Web of Science in which the terms are derived from the titles of articles cited by the author of the article being indexed).
  • Author: searches any author. First enter the last name, followed by the first initial and an asterisk (for example: Schmidt H*).
  • Publication Titles: searches the name of the journal or proceedings. 
  • Author Identifiers: this can be the ResearcherID or the ORCID iD. See for more information the chapter 'YOU in Web of Science'.
  • Affiliation: If you select this field, a AZ button appears in the seach bar. When you click this button, you can search in the Affiliation Index. Use this list to find the preferred name for an organization and the variants that have been identified and associated with it.

Search operators

To combine search fields these search operators are used in the search screen:

AND All search terms must occur in the search results.
OR At least one search term must occur. This is useful when you use synonyms.
NOT Excludes records containing a given search term.

These options can be selected in the dropdown menu’s between the search bars, but you can also use search operators within a search box, for example “social media” AND friend*. Use quotation marks to search for exact phrases in topic or title searches.

Truncation can be used to control plurals and variant spellings.

* Any number of characters, for example friend* gives also friends, friendship, friendly.
$ To replace zero or 1 character, for example colo$r gives color and colour.
? To replace 1 character, for example wom?n gives women and woman.


Example of a basic document search in Web of Science

In the Advanced Search two extra search operators are available:

SAME Can be used in Address searches – the entered terms appear in the same address. In other searches SAME works like AND.
NEAR/n Finds records where the search terms are within n number of words of each other. If you use NEAR without the /n this is interpreted as NEAR/15: the terms joined by NEAR are within 15 words of each other.