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Research Guides

MAT136 - Searching for Articles

Course Guide for MAT136

Introduction to Scopus and Web of Science

Scopus and Web of Science are the two largest interdisciplinary abstract and citation databases of peer-reviewed literature in the sciences.  They both contain 10s of thousands of articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings. 

Not everything contained in Scopus or Web of Science is full-text or comes from a scholarly publication. This guide will show you how to find full-text articles and how to identify the scholarly publications.

Scopus and Web of Science overlap a great deal in the publications they cover, but there are differences in their content.  If you are not finding what you want in one of the databases, try your search with the other.

Scopus and Web of Science are very similar in the way they function and how they direct you in your search for articles.  This guide will focus on searching for articles in Scopus, but the same method can be used when searching Web of Science. 


Finding Scopus and Web of Science

To use Scopus and Web of Science, you have to go to the University of Toronto Library's website.  You can access our webpage from

From the library page, go to Advanced Search and selected "Databases".  Links to Scopus and Web of Science can be found at the bottom the "Popular Databases" page.

Start your Search

When you are starting your search, think of the terms you might use to locate articles of interest to you. 

NOTE:  The broader the search term, the more results you will get.  For instance, in the example shown below, if only the search term "economics" was used, over 60,000 articles would have appeared on the "document results" list.

Making your search more specific brings up a more manageable set of search results.  In this instance, using the search terms "economics" and "farming" directed Scopus to narrow down the search to articles dealing only with the economics of farming.

For the purposes of this assignment, it will serve you best to limit your search to the "Title, Abstract, Keyword" option.  This will instruct Scopus to look for your search terms in the title of the article, in the abstract of the article, and the in keywords of the article.  The abstract of the article is a short summary of what the article is about and the keywords are search terms connected to the article that are often supplied by the author.


Further Refining your Search

In this example, using the search terms "economics" and "farming" still resulted in almost 5,000 records. Scopus gives you options to further refine your search and narrow down the results.  For your purposes, you can further refine your search to years the articles were published (you might just want search through the 5 most recent years); subject areas to further focus your search on your area of interest; and/or document type to limit your results to articles only.


After Identifying an Article of Interest

Neither Scopus nor Web of Science will allow you to search for differential equations or integrals within an article, so when you have identified an article of interest you will have to skim the text of the article to see if it includes the math you need for this assignment.  You can only have access to the full-text of articles if you see the "full-text" button under the title of the article.  If the article you are looking at does not contain differential equations or integrals, you can access articles similar to the one you have chosen by clicking on the title of the article or clicking on the "related documents" link. 

References and Citations

When you click on the title of the article, you will be taken to a page that shows you the abstract and keywords of the article.  This page also features links to the articles that the author used for her/his own research (references) and articles published more recently that have used the paper as a reference (cited by).  If the article you have chosen does not have the necessary math within it, you might find what you are looking for by scanning the papers included in the references and cited by links.

Web of Science

Searching for articles in Web of Science is fundamentally the same as searching in Scopus.  Like Scopus, Web of Science allows you to limit your search results, retrieve full-text articles, and have access to "references" and "cited by" links. 

Note: There is difference in some of the terminology used by the two databases.  In Web of Science, "Topic" will perform the same search that "Title/Abstract/Keywords" performs in Scopus.