Use Web of Science Databases to Find Highly Cited Articles

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Welcome to this Information and Library Services tutorial on using Web of Science databases to find highly cited articles on a topic. This tutorial will take about five minutes to review. 

The three Web of Science databases that the UMUC library subscribes to are Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Science Citation Index Expanded, and Social Sciences Citation Index.  These databases can be used to find highly cited articles about a given topic.  

This can be a useful step in identifying seminal works -- that is, works of historical importance that have influenced other researchers. 

You may access the library's Web of Science databases by going to the library's home page and then clicking on the "Research Databases" link. 

On the Research Databases page, click on the "W" link and then click on "Web of Science." 

As with other UMUC library databases, you will need to log in with your last name and either your 7-digit EMPL ID or your 14-digit library barcode number. 

From the main Web of Science page, you may then select the database or databases that you wish to search. As you may suspect from their names, Arts & Humanities Citation Index contains citation information for journals in the arts and humanities.  Science Citation Index Expanded contains citation information for journals in the hard sciences, such as biology, chemistry, computer science, and math.  And Social Sciences Citation Index contains citation information for journals in the social and behavioral sciences, such as education, management, psychology, and sociology.

You may also go straight to the particular Web of Science database that you want to search by clicking on the appropriate link on the library's "Research Databases" page. 

For the purposes of this demonstration, we will be searching in Social Sciences Citation Index for articles about strategic management. Note that the words "strategic management" have been put between quotation marks so that the database will search for these words as a phrase -- that is, the database will search for articles in which these words appear together, and in the order specified. 

As you can see, our search retrieved thousands of articles that have been written about this broad topic.  Search results are sorted by default by latest date, which means that the articles that were entered into the database most recently will show up first in your search results list. 

But note that you can re-sort your search results by a variety of criteria, including times cited.  Re-sorting your search results by times cited will show you the most highly cited articles on your topic. 

In this case, the most highly cited article, "Dynamic capabilities and strategic management," has been cited over 2000 times, which indicates that this article has had an influence on researchers writing on the topic of strategic management. 

You can click on the title of an article to find more information about it. 

Note that you will see both a times cited link and a references link.  You can click on these links to see a list of all of the articles that cited this article as well as a list of all the articles that were cited in this article. You may be able to find additional relevant articles on your topic this way. 

Because the Web of Science databases are citation databases rather than full-text databases, you will never find PDF links in these databases. But you may use the "find it" button to see whether a full-text version of an article is available from another UMUC library database. 

In this case, full text of this article is available from several UMUC library databases. You may click on the link for any of the databases to be taken to that database, where you may access the full text of the article. 

Back on the search results page, notice that another option that's available to you is "Analyze Results." You can use this link to see the author who's published the most articles on your topic or the journal that's published the most articles on your topic, etc. 

For example, to see which author has published the most articles on the topic of strategic management, we can select to rank search results by author.  We'll analyze up to 5000 records since this will analyze all of our search results.  We'll leave the other settings as is -- we'll look at the top 10 results, and we'll say that an author has to have written at least 2 articles to be included in our results.  We'll sort our results by the number of articles written. 

After clicking on "Analyze," we can see that the author who's written the most articles about strategic management has written 28 articles on this topic. 

We can then take a look at the articles that this author has written by checking the box next to his name and then clicking on view records. 

Going back to the search results page, note that you can also create a citation report for your search results. 

This shows you how many articles were published on the topic of strategic management in the last 20 years, as well as how many times the articles were cited.  This information can give you an idea of the popularity of this topic over time.

If you have any questions about how to use the Web of Science databases, please visit the library's Web site and use the "Ask a Librarian" options to contact us.

Thank you for viewing this tutorial!