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HARC: Helpful Academic Researchers Companion

HARC has been designed to answer the questions researchers ask at every step of the research life cycle

Citation databases

Citation databases keep track of the citation data of individual articles &/or books. They use citation data to provide information on:

  • how many times an article has been cited (high citations indicating works with high impact)

  • articles which have cited an article

  • authors which have cited an article

  • journals which have cited an article

  • when the article has been cited (connections, speed of research)

  • key authors in a topic (prolific &/or highly cited authors)

  • key journals in a topic

The Scopus and Web of Science citation (WOS) citation databases are acknowledged as the key multidisciplinary databases researchers should search!

Both databases keep track of the citations generated by the journals that they index. Citation data generated by these databases are currently being used internationally to measure the performance and quality of scholarly output of institutions and individual researchers. As such any literature search should include these two databases.

E.g. ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities uses citation data from the WOS citation databases + other databases
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings


  • each citation database only examines the citation counts of the journal titles indexed within it's database

    • if you haven't published in a journal indexed by that database, your publication will not be included

  • citation databases should be searched in addition to searching your subject database

  • variation of scores between the various citation databases?

    • The same publication can have a different result for the same metric (eg h index) in different databases

      • each database indexes a slightly different range of titles

      • each database may index a slightly different range of  publications types

      • each database may index different content within a journal issue (e.g. cover to cover or main articles only)


Citation databases:

Scopus (Elsevier) is a multidisciplinary citation database

Scopus indexes a wide selection of the key publications in a variety of subject and discipline areas.

Image of Scopus search screen

Usefulness of Scopus Citation data

  • Scopus keeps track each time a Scopus item is cited or viewed (on Scopus)

  • citation data can be used to identify a topic or discipline's seminal works, key authors, key journal titles, who is citing whom etc.

  • the citations collected are then used to generate a wide range of Citation Metrics [PDF].

Video Tutorials on using Scopus:

Which titles are indexed by Scopus?:

  • Login into Scopus > Click on Sources (located above the blue banner in Scopus)
  • Use the refine panel on the left to display titles by Source type - journal, book series, conference proceedings, trade publications
  • Scimago database
  • Scopus Content Coverage Guide (does not list individual titles but covers a short overview & scope, coverage of source types, metadata, sources; and processing of Scopus content)


Which are the highly ranked Scopus titles?

  • Check the Sources tab within Scopus, Scimago database  and Journal Metrics database; these latter two databases use Scopus citation data to rank journals within a a subject and discipline area, based on its citation data
  • Compare sources (located within the blue banner in Scopus Document Search page) - allows the comparison of up to 10 titles across a range of metrics

What are the main Performance metrics used in Scopus:
(click to see the full document: Quick Reference Card for Research Metrics)

  • SJR: SCImago Journal Rank

This measures the influence of a journal by taking into account both the number of citations received & the importance of the citing journal.

SJR facilitates the comparison of journals across different subjects by normalising citation behaviour between subject fields.

Normalisation allows journals across all disciplines to be compared.


CiteScore calculates the average number of citations received in a calendar year by all items published in that journal in the preceding three years. The calendar year to which a serial title’s issues are assigned is determined by their cover dates, and not the dates that the serial issues were made available online. more about CiteScore

  • SNIP: Source Normalized Impact per Paper

SNIP measures contextual citation impact by weighting citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field. more about SNIP

  • IPP Impact per Publication

IPP measures the ratio of citations per article published in the journal. more about IPP

The Web of Science (WOS) is a multidisciplinary citation database

The Web of Science indexes a selection of the key publications in a variety of subject and discipline areas.


Usefulness of Web of Science Citation data

  • the Web of Science tracks each time a Web of Science item is cited

  • citation data is used to identify important information about a topic or discipline, seminal works, key authors, key journal titles, who is citing whom etc.

  • the citations collected are then used to generate the a wide range of Citation Metrics.

What databases are being searched by the Web of Science Core Collection?

Web of Science select database

To find out exactly which databases are being searched, click on the 2 drop down menus.

An institutions's subscriptions will have an impact on:

  • which databases are available for searching
  • the span of publication dates available for searching (eg. ECU has subscribed to Science Citation Index Expanded for the period 1980-present, other institutions may have access to a different span of publication dates for this index)

What are the main Citation metrics used in the Web of Science?

Absolute measures:

  • number of documents (productivity)
  • times cited
  • percent cited

Like for like:

  • h-index
  • citation impact
  • journal impact factor

Normalisation (allows comparison across disciplines):

  • normalised Citation Impact
  • percentile Indicators
  • ESI Highly cited papers


Google Scholar also provides citation information

Citation counts are higher on Google Scholar than on Scopus or the Web of Science as Google Scholar draws its citation data from a larger range of titles.

  • the exact coverage of titles being indexed by Google Scholar is unknown:
    • Google does not release information on the scope of its coverage or its criteria for inclusion. Scopus and Web of Science databases provide information on the titles indexed, and the guidelines that determine inclusion.
  • citation counts on Google Scholar can change as Google Scholar is dynamic
    • i.e. what appears in the database today may disappear tomorrow if the citing journal goes off-line ... this can affect an article's citation count. 


Dimensions is a very new product which combines a citation database, a research analytics suite, and modern article discovery and access functionality.

Dimensions provides information about citations of publications (including patents), but it also provides links to grant funding, clinical trials, normalised metrics for fields/disciplines and institutions.

Rather than drawing metrics from a defined list of publications as Scopus and Web of Science does, Dimensions offers research filters to limit results to journals by Publication year, Researcher, Fields of Research, Publication type, Source title, Journal List (i.e. specific databases) and Open access articles. Results can be sorted by relevance, publication date, citations, Altmetric attention score (although Plum analytic scores are also given) and the new databases metric RCR.

The Relative Citation Ratio (RCR) is an article-level metric that indicates the relative citation performance of an article when compared to other articles in its area of research.

A value of more than 1.0 shows a citation rate above average for this group

Dimensions integrates with ReadCube, which facilitates the indexing of article fulltext discovery and also the display of the fulltext of articles from public source like PubMedCentral or arXiv or publishers who have agreed to make their content available through ReadCube.

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Edith Cowan University acknowledges and respects the Nyoongar people, who are the traditional custodians of the land upon which its campuses stand and its programs operate.
In particular ECU pays its respects to the Elders, past and present, of the Nyoongar people, and embrace their culture, wisdom and knowledge.