Getting Better Results with Web of Science

A guide to Web of Science and some of its features.

Authors' Names and Cited References

Authors' names can vary in the way they are recorded and cited. Some citation styles require last name and initials, vs. last name and first name, or other variations. It's better to enter a name as shown in the examples; the journal title abbreviations are specific to this database, but can be looked up.

An author field search will show an A-Z button on the righthand end, which you may use to look for authors. Adding the last name will generate a range of matching first names, but it only works well with distinctive names. Even then there may be other people with the same last name and first initial and sometimes second initial. For example: In WoS, Bandura, A* gets citations to some articles by the famous social psychologist, Albert Bandura, but also to an A.V. Bandura, who is working in nanotechnology.

author index, which shows if you click on the A-Z button at the right end of the field.

The cited references tab, which appears on the Documents search page on the second tab close to the search boxes, will allow you to search by cited authors. The A-Z button shows here, too.  More information is better if you are looking for who cited a specific work.


The Researchers tab, which is the second tab on the main search page, will give you various forms of an author's name; you can add them as name variants and search them all together to get a more comprehensive author search, IF you put OR between the name variations.

Be careful. Last names and initials in common can still cause confusion among authors. Even a less common name may draw up more than one author's works.

Cited reference searches will show you what works by a particular author have been cited, and how many timesIN articles or proceedings that are included in Web of Science and the other databases we get through their platform. It sometimes shows works cited from books or book chapters.

Secondary (or later) authors for papers or proceedings with multiple authors may be searched for in a cited reference search. Variants of a name may not be found automatically, so it is important to include those variations in the search. For example:

Mueller F* or Meuller F*/  O Hara C* or OHara C* /  Tomboulian D* or Tombouli D*

It is still more efficient to use the first author if known.

It may be useful to limit by institution, if you are searching for an author with a common name. They have a list of institutional names under Affiliation in the dropdown menu of the search box. Check for it in the database or use address information-- such as Univ same Fayetteville same AR same department name, for someone from here, in the Address field.


Cited Works, Journal Titles & Abbrev.

To get to the specific cited reference search boxes, click on the "cited reference search" tab.

You may search for who has cited a particular work by searching by a cited author's name. Also, you may use the title of a book, a composition, a film, a work of art, or other intellectual product to find out who has cited the work. For example: Fight Club

For cited reference searching, Web of Science uses journal title abbreviations of its own making; they may not be obvious.

For example: A CRITICAL REVIEW: LASER TECHNOLOGIES FOR DEFENSE AND SECURITY is abbreviated P SOC PHOTO-OPT INS because this abbreviation is based on a previous title of the same journal.

For specific cited references, you may search using an author's name AND a journal title, but not just a journal title, as that isn't distinctive enough.

However, if you are trying to see how many times a journal has been cited by journals indexed by Web of Science, the journal's abbreviation or journal's title will work, IF you search for it as a publication title.

Other Works are Cited in WoS

Other works, such as books, book chapters, conference proceedings, films, and artworks may be cited in Web of Science.

For example, Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night" has been cited multiple times, but it also shows how a title may be cited differently; it was rendered numberically in some cases, spelled out as words in others, and with varied spellings.

This database often doesn't count citations of a work in books, or in journals that it doesn't index.

Cited References

Cited reference searches in Web of Science (WoS) will show you what works by a particular author have been cited, and how many times, IN the journals or conference proceedings that are included in WoS. The times cited in WoS will show above the citation. The times cited in total will show on the right upper screen when you are looking at the citation.

Some other databases, including PsycINFO, Ebsco Business Source Premier, Communication and Mass Media Complete, and others will allow cited author searches for the journals and conference proceedings that they cover.

Places where an author has been cited may not always appear if an author is not the sole or first author or if the journal citing the author isn't indexed in WoS. Places where an author has been cited in books may not show up at all.

How the citations are counted in WofS

This is taken from the Web of Science help pages (emphasis added):

Times Cited / Cited by / Citing Articles

The Times Cited count indicates the number of times a published paper was cited by other papers, including conference proceedings papers.

How We Count Citing Articles

We count citations from the reference list in journals, conference proceedings, book series, and other papers that are indexed in Web of Science.

Citing article counts are for all years (from 1900 to the present) and all five citation indexes in Web of Science - not just for your current year limits and indexes included in your subscription (which may be smaller)....