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Web of Science: Search Options

An index of Science, Social Science, and Arts & Humanities databases

Search Options in Web of Knowledge's Web of Science

In this Guide:


By default, all five databases in Web of Science are searched at the same time. To use a specific citation database
select More Settings, then deselect the databases that are not desired and select the time period desired.

Use the drop-down menu abovef the search box(es) to do the following searches:

Basic Search: Use this option to search by Topic, Title, Author, group author, Author Identifiers, Group Author, Editor, Publication Name, DOI, Year Published, Address, Organization-Enhanced, Conference, Language, Document Type, Funding Agency, Grant Number, Accession Number, PubMed ID

Author Search: Use this option to search by author last name and initial of first and middle name.

Cited Reference Search: Use this option to search for articles that have cited a particular journal article or book. Fill in as much information as you know and click on Search.

Advanced Search: Use this option to search with field labels (to limit the search to a particular field, like author or journal). See online help for more details.

Saved History: To run a saved query, from the Search History tab, click on the Open Saved History button.


Basic Search: The general search options from the drop down menu next to the search boxes allow searching of source documents (articles from source journals).

Search options include searching by:

Topic Keyword: Because SCI has no subject headings, remember to search for all possible synonyms and spellings. Use truncation and Boolean operators to expand/narrow your search.

Title: Searchestitles of articles, books (not applicable to University of Toledo), and proceedings.

Author: For an author search, use the format lastname, first initial (if known). If the middle name is known, include that initial as well. For a more comprehensive search, use an asterisk to truncate the name: lastname i*. This will retrieve all articles by I. Lastname, no matter what the middle name is. Also consider using the author index to select name variations.

Author Identifiers: Searches ResearcherID numbers or Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) identifiers

Group Author: Use this option to search for corporate authors: organizations, task forces, committees, etc.

Editor: Note: a corporate author can also be an editor

Publication Name: Enter words from the journal title, or select from the Publication Name Index.

DOI: Search by Digital Object Identification number; enter partial codes with an asterisk (*) to find multiple records

Year Pubhlished: Enter a four-digit year or a range of years; this overrides the timespan setting

Address: Author affiliation. There are many common abbreviations in this field; check the abbreviations list.

Organization-Enhanced: Searches the Preferred Organization Index for preferred organization names and name variants

Conference: Example -- Fiber Optics AND Photonics AND India AND 2000

Language: Searches 51 languages (for a full list consult the Web of Science Help). Retrieves only those records that contain the search term(s) entered plusthe document type(s) selected. A set of limits will  appear this selection is made.

All languages






Document Type: Retrieves only those records that contain the search term(s) entered plusthe document type(s) selected. A set of limits will  appear this selection is made.

All document types
Abstract of Published Item
Art Exhibit Review
Book Chapter
Book Review
Correction, Addition
Dance Performance Review
Database Review
Editorial Material
Fiction, Creative Prose
Film Review
Hardware Review
Item About an Individual
Meeting Abstract
Meeting Summary
Music Performance Review
Music Score
Music Score Review
News Item
Proceedings Paper
Record Review
Software Review
TV Review, Radio Review
TV Review, Radio Review, Video
Theater Review


Funding Agency: Enter the full name of an agency or specific terms e.g. National Agency AND Science

Grant Number: Note --some grant numbers will find the same record

Accession Number: Each record in Web of Sciencve has a unique identifying number

PubMed ID: A unique identifier assigned to each MEDLINE record

The database supports the following search options to allow for more powerful searching:

Truncation: Use an asterisk (*) for zero- and multiple-character truncation (i.e. echocardiogra* searches for echocardiogram and echocardiography). Use a question mark (?) for single character truncation (i.e. wom?n searches for women and woman). These symbols can be used together, if necessary, and in any search field.

Operators: Common operators are available in Web of Science:

  • AND -- to narrow results to items found in two or more search sets
  • OR -- to combine synonyms
  • SAME -- terms must be in the same sentence, in any order
  • Quotation marks -- search terms as a phrase ("myocardial infarction")
  • NEAR/x -- to find records where the terms joined by the operator are within a specified number of words of each other, x being the number to specify the maximum number of words that separate the terms. NEAR without /x will find records where the terms joined by NEAR are within 15 words of each other.
  • Parentheses --to force the expression inside the parentheses to be searched first.

After making selections and typing in terms, hit the Search button.

Limiting and Refining Search Results

After completing one search, there is a Refine Results option on the left side of the results page for filtering or running a search for another topic within the results:

Determining Availability of Articles

To determine if an article is available through the UT Libraries (online or in print), click on the Find It! button:


To see the full item record, click on the article title. Viewing the full record will show related information, including information about citations, keywords, funding information, and institutional affiliation. Click on View Abstract to get a quick summary of an article.

Using Search Indexes

In the Basic Search and Cited Reference Search there are indexes to assist with some types of searching: author, group author, cited author, cited work, Organization-Enhanced, and Publication Name. The links to the indexes will be below the drop-down menu after the type is selected (See the example below):


When you click to get to an index, there will be options for browsing: clicking on the appropriate letter, or typing the first few letters of the name/title to jump to that location in the list. Click on the Add button next to each name/title that you’d like to include in the search. The selected terms are added to the field at the bottom of the page. Click on the OK button at the bottom of the page to enter the search into the search form and continue constructing the search.

Search History and Combining Searches

Combining Simple Searches to Create Complex Searches

One of the features of the database is the search history, with which you can combine simple searches into more complex searches. To view the search history, click on the Search History tab at the top of the page. Click next to the searches to be combined, then select AND or OR. Then click on the Combine button.

 To view the results of the combined search, click on the link in the results column next to the combined search.
In Search History, search sets can also be deleted and search histories saved to be run again at a later date.

After completing one search, there is a Refine Results option on the left side of the results page to run a search for another topic within the results. Using this option does not run a separate search for the second topic that can be separately combined later. The Refine Results menu also allows you to refine your search by subject areas, document type, author, titles, publication years, institutions, languages, and countries.

Saving Search Histories to Run Later (Manually or Automatically)

To save a search history to run at a later time, first create a free account with Web of Science. The databases are updated every week, and there is a time period option to search the last week’s updates.

Search histories can be saved on the server (to have the search re-run automatically as an alert, the history needs to be saved on the server) or on the local workstation (on the hard drive or other storage device).

To manually run a saved search, select Saved Searches and Alerts from the My Tools drop-down menu. Click on Browse to locate your search, then click on Open. On the list of saved searches, you can delete a search or modify the settings before running it.