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Web of Science Core Collection: Search Tips

Web of Science Core Collection is a painstakingly selected, actively curated database of the journals that researchers themselves have judged to be the most important and useful in their fields.

A 'Topic Search' will return results from...

The fields mined to return results in a common 'Topic Search' are: 

1) The Title of the article, review, proceeding, book, etc. 

2) The Abstract, which is the work's summary containing the key points discussed such as research question, methodology, discussion and conclusion. This field is supplied by the author(s) of the article or paper.

3) The Keywords and Keywords Plus fields: The keywords field is the one supplied by the author(s) and "tags" the main and sub topics of the paper's content.  The keywords plus field is an algorithm that provides expanded terms stemming from the record's cited references or bibliography.

A few guidelines...

You can enter your search terms in one or more of search fields. The Add Another Field link allows you to add more search fields to the Basic Search page. The Select from Index link allows you to select an item (such as a publication name or an author name) when you perform a Publication Name or Author search.

The Reset Form link lets you clear any search queries that you have entered. This action resets the search page to the original search fields This action applies to the Author search and Cited Reference Search.

The Default Number of Search Fields to Display option allows you to select only the Topic field or you can select the Topic, Author, and Publication Name fields.

Once you create a profile with your institutional email and password, you will be able to Save Settings which allow you to save your settings for future search sessions.

Capitalization does not affect the search results and does not distinguish between upper, lower, or mixed case. 

The use of search operators (AND, OR, NOT, NEAR, SAME) will vary in each search field. For example:

·        You can use AND in the Topic field, but not in the Publication Name or Source field.

·        You can use NEAR in most fields, but not in the Year Published field. 

·        You can use SAME in the Address field, but not in other fields.

Keep in mind that case does not matter when using search operators. For example, OROr, and or returns the same results. We use all uppercase for style issues. 


Wildcards, also known as truncation(s) * $ ? are supported in most search queries; however, the rules for using wildcards will vary by field.

Phrase Searching

To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks. For example, the query "energy conservation" will retrieve records that contain the exact phrase energy conservation. This applies only to Topic and Title searches.

If you enter a phrase without quotation marks, the search engine will retrieve records that contain all of the words you entered. The words may or may not appear close together. For example, energy conservation retrieves records containing the exact phrase energy conservation. It will also find records containing the phrase conservation of energy.

If you enter two words separated by a hyphen, period, or comma, then the term will be interpreted as an exact phrase. For example, the search term waste-water will find records containing the exact phrase waste-water or the phrase waste water. It will not match water wastewaste in drinking water, or water extracted from waste.

Parentheses are used to group compound Boolean operators. For example:

·        (Antibiotic OR Antiviral) AND (Alga* OR Seaweed)

·        (Pagets OR Paget's) AND (cell* AND tumor*)

Apostrophes are treated as spaces, not searchable characters. Be sure to search for variants with no apostrophe. For example, Paget's OR Pagets finds records containing Paget's and Pagets.

Search for hyphenated words and phrases by entering the terms with and without the hyphen. For example, speech-impairment finds records containing speech-impairment and speech impairment.

Refining the Results

You can narrow the results of your search by using any of the Refine Results options such as:

  • Web of Science Categories; these are established at the journal level and a record can belong to more than one category.
  • Document Types
  • Research Areas
  • Authors
  • Publication Years
  • Organization-Enhanced; Unified institutional name 
  • Source Titles
  • Funding Agencies
  • Open Access (Golden Edition only)

Select one or more check boxes, and then click Refine to display records of articles within the selected results. The most frequently occurring items appear at the top of the list. You can then also choose how to Sort your results by newest, most cited, recently added, relevance, etc.  

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