Software tools for bibliometrics


There are three main sources of bibliometric data: Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar.  Each has certain advantages and limitations which may influence which source or combination of sources you decide to use in your bibliometric search.  In another section of this toolkit (, sample bibliometrics are done using all three sources, which is a good practice, particularly in the case of resources with relatively small numbers of results.  Since each source has certain areas in which it is more effective at finding results than the others, combining all of them raises you ability to find the kinds of uses to which your online resource is being put.

Sources of Bibliometric Data

Scopus ( Access is limited to subscribers and is often done through your university library web site.

Scopus is a relative newcomer to the scholarly search field, founded in 2004, but offers a great deal of flexibility for the bibliometric user.  First, searches can be done on fields including the abstracts and keywords, but also on the references.  This makes it particularly useful for the purpose of finding citations to digitised resources compared to the Web of Knowledge, which does not search the text of the citations.  It also allows for relatively easy downloading of your searches, although there are some limits on very large results sets with over 2000 items.

Also, in Scopus has expanded humanities coverage in recent years, which makes this resource more valuable for finding citations to digital humanities materials.

Google Scholar ( Free access.

Google Scholar is the easiest of the three main sources of bibliographic data to perform simple searches in, as the interface is nearly identical to the main Google search engine.  Compared with Scopus and Web of Knowledge, however, you have far less control over your searches as Google Scholar does not include the ability to do fine grained boolean searching, and often returns far more false positives than the other services.  However, Google Scholar also has the most coverage of informal scholarly communication (such as presentations and conference papers), so may be able to find results the other tools have not.

ISI Web of Knowledge ( Access is limited to subscribers and is often done through your university library web site.

The Web of Knowledge (WoK) is the grandfather of search sites that use citation-based searching techniques.  Founded by Eugene Garfield, one of the originators of many bibliometric techniques, WoK allows a variety of search options and the ability to follow citations from article to article.  The databases included in the Web of Science portion of the WoK site cover the sciences, social sciences and humanities, and have recently expanded to include conference proceedings in addition to journal articles.

A major limitation of using WoK to find citations to digital resources, however, is that the fields you are able to search are somewhat limited: they do not include the full text of the article, and they do not include the text of the references.


Tools to Work with Bibliometric Data

One of the best sources of tools (and documentation on how to use them) is Loet Leydesdorff's page at The tools here are geared towards bibliometrics scholars, but many are relatively simple to use. These tools are generally written to work with Web of Knowledge data, although some also work with Scopus data.

Another tool that is useful in particular circumstances is Harzing's Publish or Perish (, which as the name suggests, was originally designed to help scholars determine their own h-index. New features have been added, however, which allow searching for words and phrases. This tool draws on Google Scholar data.