The Usefulness of Related Functions in Web of Science and Scopus

Dorothy C.P. Char, Isola Ajiferuke



Objective: This study evaluates the effectiveness of the related search functions in Web of Science and Scopus. Web of Science has one related search function (searching by references) whereas Scopus has three related search functions (searching by references, authors, or keywords).

Methods: Thirty queries were searched in both Web of Science and Scopus. For each query, the most relevant document was retrieved and its first thirty related documents were assessed for relevancy to the original query. Results for both databases were compared using the median values of precision. For Scopus the three different methods of relevance were compared using median precision values.

Results: The median precision value for the related documents retrieved from Web of Science was 0.63, while the median for those retrieved from Scopus using the related by references function was 0.62. A Wilcoxon test showed no significant difference in the two medians. In the comparison of the three related functions in Scopus, the median precision values were 0.62, 0.42, and 0.43 for the related search functions by references, authors, and keywords respectively. A Friedman's test showed that the median precision value for relatedness by references was significantly higher than the median vales for the other two related functions. In Scopus, the effectiveness of the related search function using all keywords was not as effective when compared to the effectiveness using select keywords. The median precision value with select keywords was 0.17.

Conclusions: The related search functions by references for both Web of Science and Scopus were moderately effective in retrieving additional relevant documents on a given topic, and there was no significant difference in their performance. When comparing the three methods available in Scopus, the related search function by references was found to be more effective than the system's related functions by authors and keywords.


Scopus; Web of Science; related; function; bibliographic coupling; references; authors; keywords

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