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BIOL 130L Research Guide: Use Web of Science


Web of Science is a bibliographic database and a citation index that searches and links to full-text articles in other databases. As a bibliographic database, Web of Science contains information about articles, such as title, author, date of publication, etc. 

Web of Science is also a powerful citation index. Citation indexes show the relationships among scholarly papers and provide a "reference trail" in order to follow information pathways. A citation index search is highly recommended as part of any larger literature search strategy. 

Access Web of Science

When to use a citation index

Articles that cite your article can be relevant to your research. Discover how a known idea or innovation has been confirmed, applied, improved, extended, or corrected.  Databases that include citation searching: 

Two methods of searching in Web of Science

Step 1: Enter your search terms in the search fields 

Tip: The first 3 boxes are filled with general terms related to the lab and the 4th box contains terms related to the specific section of the lab. So this 4th box might change depending on the section of the lab you are researching. For example: you might also be interested in searching the terms "chlorophyll permeability" 

screenshot of web of science search

Step 2: Review your search results

Tip: Sort and refine your results if you have too many to review quickly. 

screenshot of web of science search results


Step 3: Read the abstract to determine if you want look at the whole article

Tip: You might find other ways of describing your topic while reading the abstract. If this happens, it might be time to revise your search! Access: Note the journal information and access the full-text of the article using the Get it @ Waterloo link, as seen in Image 3 below.

screenshot of web of science article abstract dropdown

Step 4: Get your article

When exploring an article abstract in Web of Science, click the Get it@Waterloo link to see your full-text access options. 

Learn more about Get it @ Waterloo

Articles that cite another article have a higher probability to be related to the article. Cited reference searching is a quick way to narrow your search down, especially if you are only looking for a small number of related research articles.

STEP 1: Search for one of the articles given in class using the title information.

Change the field to "Title", as seen in Image 4 below. 

screenshot of search with title field selected in Web of ScienceImage 4: Title search in Web of Science


STEP 2: Tracing the history

Once you have an abstract selected, scan to the right of the abstract title and click the Times Cited (highlighted below)

Screenshot of results of title search in Web of Science

Image 5: Times Cited link in Web of Science

Step 3: Scanning through citing articles under the Timed Cited tab

The page below shows the articles that have previously cited the article that you were just searching for. Review the results to find out if there is any additional information that is relevant to your lab or search.

Tip: Sort and refine your results if you have too many to review quickly. 

screenshot of link to abstract dropdown in Web of Science