Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weakness. FASEB J

Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences (AIBS), 9 Neapoleos St., 151 23 Marousi, Greece.
The FASEB Journal (Impact Factor: 5.04). 03/2008; 22(2):338-42. DOI: 10.1096/fj.07-9492LSF
Source: PubMed


The evolution of the electronic age has led to the development of numerous medical databases on the World Wide Web, offering search facilities on a particular subject and the ability to perform citation analysis. We compared the content coverage and practical utility of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. The official Web pages of the databases were used to extract information on the range of journals covered, search facilities and restrictions, and update frequency. We used the example of a keyword search to evaluate the usefulness of these databases in biomedical information retrieval and a specific published article to evaluate their utility in performing citation analysis. All databases were practical in use and offered numerous search facilities. PubMed and Google Scholar are accessed for free. The keyword search with PubMed offers optimal update frequency and includes online early articles; other databases can rate articles by number of citations, as an index of importance. For citation analysis, Scopus offers about 20% more coverage than Web of Science, whereas Google Scholar offers results of inconsistent accuracy. PubMed remains an optimal tool in biomedical electronic research. Scopus covers a wider journal range, of help both in keyword searching and citation analysis, but it is currently limited to recent articles (published after 1995) compared with Web of Science. Google Scholar, as for the Web in general, can help in the retrieval of even the most obscure information but its use is marred by inadequate, less often updated, citation information.

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    • "The source of the publication data is the Elsevier's Scopus database which represents the most comprehensive scientific publication database available (Falagas et al., 2008). Before downloading the publication information, we cleaned the firm names carefully to minimise false-negatives. "
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    • "There is a good number of studies on GS and a search in Scopus retrieves more than 200 articles with 'Google Scholar' in their titles up to January 2015. These studies on GS cover a range of topics, from early general discussions about its pros and cons as an academic search engine (Noruzi, 2005; Jacsó, 2005, 2008; ) to its comparison with other search engines for article retrieval (Falagas et al., 2008), its comparison with other citation indexes as a source of scientometric data (for instance for calculating h-index, e.g. Meho& Yang, 2007; Bar-Ilan, 2008; Kulkarni et al., 2009; Sanni and Zainab, 2010), its potential for citation studies (Kousha and Thelwall, 2007, 2008; Aguillo, 2012), and its coverage (Neuhaus et al., 2006; Walters, 2007). "
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