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Scopus: How to use it effectively

How to get the most from Scopus, a database of peer-reviewed literature and scholarly books with citations & abstracts in every field, plus a suite of tools to track, analyze, and visualize research.

What's in Scopus?

Students, faculty and staff at York College have access to Scopus on campus and remotely using the CUNY Login.

Scopus is a large abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed journal articles, books, conference proceedings and patents. It includes:

  • 21,950+ peer-reviewed journals (including over 3,600 full open access journals and "Articles-in-Press” from over 8,000 journals)
  • 8 million+ conference papers (proceedings and journals)
  • 150,000+ books & book series
  • 280 trade publications
  • 39 million+ patent records

Scopus does not have full articles, but it will link to the articles in York Library when available. For a very simple way to automatically get PDFs from Scopus, you can add the LibKey Nomad browser extension. (See also: installing LibKey Nomad)

Basic Search

Scopus Search Tips

  • In the search box, enter your search terms or phrases. These are your topic keywords -- you might need to try combinations of keywords to find the most relevant results.
  • Using the drop-down menu, choose the field that the terms should appear in. The default choice is Article title, Abstract, Keywords which will look for your keywords in these parts of every article. You can also choose other options, such as author or source title.
  • You can add more text boxes by clicking [+] next to the dropdown to add search fields. You can add as many as you like, but remember you can always add more later if you need them. Scopus has a "search within results" feature that lets you continue to narrow your search results as needed.
  • If you use more than one text box, you need to select an operator from the drop-down list.

  • The three operators and how they work are:
    • AND: Results will contain ALL terms listed. This narrows your search.
    • OR: Results will contain ONE of the terms listed. This broadens your search.
    • AND NOT: Results must not contain this term. This helps exclude specific results.

Once you have entered your keywords, hit Search.

You can further Limit your search with additional options. 

  • Date Range options include:
    • Published: Limit your search to articles published within a range of years.
    • Added to Scopus in the last n days: Limit your search to documents that have been added to Scopus in the last 7, 14, or 30 days.
  • Document Type: Article, Book, Review, Conference Paper, etc.
  • Access Type: You can limit to Open Access documents only

You can also check out the Scopus Document Search Tutorial video, which will demonstrate how to enter search terms and specify fields, make a search more specific to narrow your results, and how to work with previous searches from the current session.

For more help, contact a librarian or check out this tutorial on working with document search results.

Advanced Search Options

On the Advanced search form, you can create a search using field codes, proximity operators, or Boolean operators to narrow the scope of the search. For example:

  • ALL("ear infection") and AUTHOR-NAME(jones)
  • TITLE-ABS-KEY(food allergies child*) and PUBYEAR > 2003
  • SRCTITLE(*field ornith*) AND VOLUME(15) and ISSUE(3) AND PAGES(67-99)
  • See Field Codes for more information on creating search strings.

To create an advanced search:

  1. Enter your search terms using proximity or Boolean operators as necessary to connect them.
  2. As you are typing, Scopus may highlight suggested codes, provide code definitions, and suggest examples that you may want to use.
  3. Click Search.

To view your search in outline form:

If you are constructing a complex search, you can click Outline query before you hit search to view your results in outline form.

  • Outline query lets you view your search in outline form. Results will display each section of your search starting with an operator on a separate line.
  • Compact query lets you return to the normal form of the search.

As always, you can ask a librarian for more help or check out the support center for more advanced search tips!

Search Hints

  • Multiple words (new york city) entered into the search box will retrieve references containing ALL of the words (new OR york OR city)
  • Use double quotes to search for a phrase ("heart attack").     
  • The asterisk * is the wildcard and will search for any word that starts with what you have before it -- toxic* will search for toxic, toxicology, toxicity, etc.
  • Entering either British or American spelling (color, colour) will search for both variations.
  • Searching for a singular noun (ribosome) will also search for plural nouns and possessives (ribosomes, ribosome's).

Refine Your Search

There are two ways to refine your search:

Search within Results:

  • Use this search box to enter additional keywords to narrow your results.

Refine Results:

  • Use the checkboxes in the sidebar to filter your results by year or date range, subject area, document type, source type, author, affiliation, and more.
  • You can use Limit to or Exclude as filtering options.
    • Limit to changes the results list to display only the items you selected.
    • Exclude removes the items you selected from the results list. 

Analyze Results

For any kind of search, once you have retrieved a list of documents, you can click the Analyze Results button in the top left corner of the results box to open up the analytics tools. Each tab contains data visualizations and charts that can downloaded, filtered, and so on. Metrics include publication year, source, authors, affiliations, country, document type, and subject area. 

Video Tutorials

Elsevier has created a number of visual tutorials to demonstrate different tools and techniques in Scopus.

You can find all the visual tutorials and text transcripts at the Scopus Support Hub.

Note that there is no sound for the following short visual tutorials: