Web of Science

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Web of Science is a scientific literature search database from Thomson Reuters that draws from about 8,700 international scientific journals. The database is also well known for the variety of citation indexes it hosts: the Science Citation Index®, Social Science Citation Index®, and Arts and Humanities Citation Index®. These files can be used to find forward and backward citation relationships between articles in the scientific literature. The database also contains the Index Chemicus® file, which is a chemical structure (and sub-structure) searchable compendium of over one million chemical structures from select organic chemistry journals since 1991, and the Current Chemical Reactions® file, which covers synthetic reactions from select organic chemistry journals. The Web of Science also contains data from Thomson Reuters’s Century of Science™ file, a collection of over 850,000 articles from 262 scientific journals from multiple scientific disciplines and published in countries around the world, covering the early part of the 20th century.

One notable feature of the citation index files mentioned above is the proprietary “journal impact factor,” a number that hypothetically relates to a journal’s overall impact in its field through the number of citations it receives in other works. The formula to derive the impact factor is proprietary to Thomson Reuters, and some questions have been raised in the scientific community about possible ways the number could be unduly influenced. Thomson Reuters provides a wealth of information about the Impact factor, and the controversy surrounding it, at the “Citation Impact Forum” hosted on their website.

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