A long time ago, I blogged about Cited Reference Searches and mentioned that Web of Science and Scopus were the two main databases that have this feature.  So, today I thought I would go into more detail about how a cited reference search works in Web of Science and later this week in Scopus.

I need to start with a few preliminary comments about Web of Science.  First of all, for a few years Web of Science had an identity crisis and was known as Web of Knowledge because the company decided that the name was too restrictive since they now covered the humanities and social sciences.  The company has since decided that the Web of Science moniker was so ingrained that it trying to change the name wasn’t going to work although the URL is still webofknowledge.com.  Secondly, Web of Science (WoS) isn’t really a database, it’s a collection of databases that use the Web of Science interface (sort of like EBSCO is not a database but we use EBSCO to access many, many databases).  Anyway, the figure below shows us the databases that we can access through Web of Science.  Baylor has access to the Core Collection, BIOSIS Citation Index, Current Contents Connect, Data Citation Index, Derwent Innovations Index, Inspec, KCI, Medline, SciELO, and Zoological Record through the WoS.  We used to have Biological Abstracts in EBSCO but upgraded to BIOSIS in WoS, and we moved Inspec from Engineering Village to WoS.

Web of Science

The Core Collection is where we can do cited reference searches.  The data that Baylor subscribes to goes back to 1965 for the sciences and social sciences, 1975 for arts & humanities, 1990 for conferences, and 2005 for books.

The simple way to conduct a cited reference search is to just simply search for the article you are interested in and then look for the link that says Times Cited on the right hand side of the screen.  For most purposes, this will get you the references that you need or can access quickly.

WoS cited reference

But if you really want to do a thorough job, you can do a formal cited reference search.  The reason the results for a quick search and a formal search are different is because sometimes people incorrectly or insufficiently cite a paper.

To begin a formal cited reference search in WoS, pick Cited Reference Search using the the blue arrow on the search screen.  Then put in the author’s last name and first initial followed by an asterisk, the abbreviated journal title, and/or the year.  Depending on how you think the work might have been cited incorrectly, modify your search parameters (i.e mispelled name, wrong year).  Below is an example of a work that was incorrectly cited (or incorrectly entered) in WoS.

WoS incorrected cited referenceThe first article is the correct citation and you can link to the full reference in WoS.  However, you can see that the next two articles are incorrect citations of the first article: one does not list all the authors and the issue number is listed as the page number, and the other has a mistyped page number.  As humans we can tell that these all refer to the same paper, but computer algorithms can’t.  The fourth article is actually a different article.  To see the list of articles that cite the original article, just select all the relevant entries and finish the search.

Unfortunately, there is no way to correct these errors, but as more and more people use citation management systems like Zotero, EndNote, and RefWorks, these errors are more likely to be avoided.