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Comparing Bibliometric Analysis Using PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science Databases

Published: October 24th, 2019



1Department of Ophthalmology, University of Jordan, 2Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University of Jordan, 3Dean of Scientific Research, University of Jordan, 4Nonlinear Analysis and Applied Mathematics (NAAM) Research Group, Faculty of Science, King Abdulaziz University

Literature databases are commonly used to assess publications in a certain subject, discipline, country, or region of the world, a practice known as bibliometric analysis. The current protocol details how to use PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases to do bibliometric analysis.

Literature databases (i.e., PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science) differ in terms of their coverage, focus, and the tool they provide. PubMed focuses mainly on life sciences and biomedical disciplines, whereas Scopus and Web of Science are multidisciplinary. The protocol described in the current study was used to search for publications from Jordanian authors in the years 2013-2017. In this protocol, how to use each database to conduct this type of search is explained in detail. A Scopus search resulted in the highest number of documents (11,444 documents), followed by a Web of Science search (10,943 documents). PubMed resulted in a smaller number of documents due to its narrower scope and coverage (4,363 documents). The results also show a yearly trend in: (1) the number of publications, (2) the disciplines that have the most publications, (3) the countries of collaboration, and (4) the number of open access publications. In contrast, PubMed has a sophisticated keyword optimization service (i.e., Medical Subject Heading, or MeSH), while both Scopus and Web of Science provide search analysis tools that can produce representative figures. Finally, the features of each database are explained in detail and several indices that can be extracted using the search results are provided. This study provides a base for using literature databases for bibliometric analysis.

Classically, researchers have used literature databases to perform literature review for their studies1. Another use of these literature databases arose at the end of the 19th century, where researchers analyzed the body of literature, a use that has slowly grown since2. In the last few decades, digitizing literature and the formation of online literature databases provided an opportunity to researchers to analyze the body of literature and research performance easily and efficiently. An example would be analyzing the research performance for a document3, a subject4

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NOTE: The following are search methods and an example search for each method is provided. Note that the part related specifically to bibliometric analysis is also supplied.

1. PubMed

  1. Choose Advanced Search from PubMed homepage (
  2. Enter the desired search term in the search field. Choose the search terms from the medical subject heading (MeSH) database. The following example details how to assess research in "cancer".
    1. Open th.......

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Results from PubMed search

A total of 4,363 documents were retrieved based on the search conducted in this study. Free full text was available for 1,767 documents (40.5%). In 2013, a total of 532 documents were published, 663 documents in 2014, 811 documents in 2015, 952 documents in 2016, and 1,405 documents in 2017.

The results reveal that 1,008 (23........

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In this study, the steps through which PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases are used to perform a bibliometric analysis were provided. It was indicated that the friendliest and the easiest tool to use for bibliometric analysis services is Web of Science; however, its drawback is that its services are not available for free. PubMed is devoted for biomedical sciences and is affiliated with several other National Library of Medicine (NLM) tools that can help to optimize analysis of biomedical subjects. Medical Subje.......

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The authors would like to thank the Deanship of Scientific Research for its fund to support the video production for this study. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Aseel Zabin, Department of English Language and Literature, The University of Jordan for English language review of this study.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
clarivate N/A Web of Science provider, where the access was provided by the subscription made by the University of Jordan.
Elsevier N/A Scopus provider, where the access was provided by the subscription made by the University of Jordan.

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