Finding Articles in Web of Science (Basic Search)

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1. Introduction

Welcome to this tutorial on how to find articles using the basic search function in Web of Science.

In this tutorial we will cover the following topics:
• How to access Web of Science
• How to perform a basic keyword search of the database
• How to use limiters and filters to help manage your search results
• How to retrieve the PDF of an article

2. Accessing Web of Science

To access our databases from the library homepage, click on the "databases" link under the "Featured Links" heading

Featured Links menu with database link highlighted

This will take you to the A-Z list of databases. As Web of Science starts with W, click on the Link for letter "W" on the alphabetical list

The first link is the "Web of Science Core Collection" Click on it to access the database

If you are attempting to access the database from off-campus, you will be prompted to sign-in using your Bronco ID and password. Go ahead and and sign-in and you will get access to the database.

3. Searching for Articles

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You're on the "Basic Search" page of Web of Science. This database has a number of different search options to find articles, but in order to do a keyword search, all you're really going to need is the basic search module.

To the right of the search box is a drop-down menu with a lot of options. The default setting is for "Topic" which is essentially a setting for keywords. If you know the specific author, or title of the article you're looking for, you can tell the database to search for them here, but generally speaking, if you're doing a keyword search, leaving the drop-down at the default of "topic" should be fine.

topic drop down menu in Web of Science

3. Searching for Articles

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Below the search box you will see a drop-down menu where you can filter results by date of publication. Let's say you didn't want any results older than 5 years old:

• Click on the drop-down menu
• Select the "Last 5 years" option

Timespan limiter in Web of Science

3. Searching for Articles

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Below the timespan limiter there is a link with "more settings" click on it.

More settings link in Web of Science

This opens up another menu of limiters you can use to filter your results

Despite the name "Web of Science" this database is actually a multi-subject database with materials from the Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the Physical Sciences. So suppose you're looking for articles in Anthropology or Geography. You could uncheck all the boxes except the Social Sciences Citation Index, which would tell the database that this is the only part of the database you're interested in searching.

In this case, let's leave all the boxes checked.

3. Searching for Articles

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Ok, so in the search box, let's enter a search term, how about "Alluvial Plains"?

After you've entered your search into the search box, click on the "search" button.

Web of Science search button

3. Searching for Articles

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So now we're on the results page in Web of Science.

On the left-hand side of the page are a bunch of filter that allow you to filter your results to what you're specifically interested in.

If you scroll down to the filter marked "Web of Science Categories" you will see a series of check boxes with subjects next to them.

Web of Science categories with refine button highlighted

Next to each subject is a number, this is the number of items in the database that have your keywords and fall into that particular subject. Click on the box marked "Geography Physical"

Now click on the button under the options marked "Refine"

3. Searching for Articles

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You've now limited your search to everything published in the last 5 years on Alluvial Plains in the area of Physical Geography in Web of Science.

Next to each result on the search page is a "Times Cited" notice that will show you how many other articles in the database have cited that particular article. (This can be a useful way of determining how significant an article is within the literature of any given topic.)

Times cited indicator in results page of Web of Science

To access the article's record, click on the article title.

4. Accessing the Article Text

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The article record contains information about who published the article, what journal it was published in etc. One of the most useful tools here is the Abstract, which is a brief description of what the article is about. Reading the abstract can help you determine whether or not the article you're looking at is relevant to your research.

If you scroll down the article record.

You can view the cited references in the article. This is effectively the article's bibliography, anything in the bibliography that is accessible in Web of Science, can be accessed here by clicking on the titles.

If you're only finding a few good sources using a keyword search, looking at those sources' bibliographies is another excellent way to find sources on your topic.

Scroll back up to the top of the page.

Along the top of the page you'll see some options to access the article itself. The most important of these is the "Find It" button.

Click on it to see if we have access to this article.

Find it button

4. Accessing the Article Text

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The find it button takes us into OneSearch. If we have access to the article, you will see a link to the full text under the "View it" Heading"

Link to full text in OneSearch

If we don't have access, there will be a link to request the article via document delivery

To learn more about document delivery, view our tutorial here.


Please enter your name and email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz.

You can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas. If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address also.


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