Getting to know Web of Science


We have lots of ways of doing interdisciplinary library research available to us:  Summon, Google Scholar, Social Sciences Full Text… but have you considered using Web of Science?  Don’t let the name deter you; social science is a science, too.

On the Library’s databases page (W for Web of Science), if you click on the database name, you will be taken directly to the database.  If you click on the details entry instead, you will get a lot more information about how it’s organized (and therefore how you might want to go about searching it).  The details for Web of Science lists all the resources we get at Thomson Reuters.  If you click on the details for Web of Science Core Collection, you will see all the searchable subfiles within Web of Science itself, which includes conference papers.  You also can search a particular subfile, such as the Social Sciences Citation Index.  We can start just with the Social Sciences Citation Index.


When you enter the Social Sciences Citation Index, you will see under “More Settings” that this is the only index chosen.


Once inside the Social Sciences Citation Index, you will see a text area that defaults to “Topic”.  You can go ahead and enter any keyword search you like, and add terms as new rows just as you can in Gender Studies Database.

One thing that you might want to do is to look for all the works by a particular author.  For instance, Donna Haraway’s work.  In this case, I would change “Topic” to “Author”, and enter Haraway D* (to allow for variations in how her name was indexed into the database).   Give it a try!

wos5 On the search results page, you are given ways to refine the search, such as by subject area or type of document, just as in Summon and other databases that you may have used already.  You may wish to narrow the results in this way.

Notice that the search results are ordered by publication date (newest first).  You have a number of options to re-sort these results.  If you are interested in the most popular articles, that is, the ones most used, you could try re-ordering by “Times Cited”.


Note the updated results — the times that an article has been used in other writing is provided on the right.  This is one way of identifying key research articles in a particular topic area.  Consider reading these!


I will talk more about the things you can do in Web of Science in another blog, but for now this should get you started with it.  Happy searching!