Andrea C. Kepsel, MLIS, AHIP
Health Sciences Educational Technology Librarian
Michigan State University Libraries
This is an update of a review I wrote that was published in the February 2021 issue of Doody’s Collection Development Monthly. You can find the original review here.
Scopus is an abstract and citation database from Elsevier. Coverage is international in scope and includes journal articles, conference papers, books, and patents. Over 240 disciplines are represented, with a particular strength in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
As of May 2023, Scopus contains over 91.2 million records, with approximately 13,000 new articles indexed per day. A notable addition to Scopus content is the incorporation of preprints – first as a content type in author profiles, and now searchable when performing a document search. Preprint records are available from seven major preprint servers, including arXiv, bioRxiv, and medRxiv. Criteria for selected preprint servers include usefulness to the research community, metadata quality, and maturity status. Documents from prior to 2017 are not included. Scopus has also expanded the number of open access (OA) filters available when searching, increasing the findability of OA documents. In addition to filtering results to all OA articles, users can specify type (gold, hybrid gold, green, and bronze). These additions increase access to scientific literature, connecting users to resources beyond what is available within their institutional licenses and subscriptions.
My original review of Scopus referenced a study, since retracted due to unreliable findings1, that claimed a large number of predatory journals are indexed in Scopus. Shortly after publication of the review, an entry was posted to the Scopus blog that summarizes the process for identifying and re-evaluating predatory journals and reaffirmed the importance of indexing high-quality content2. The proliferation of predatory publishers in the scholarly communication landscape means that Elsevier and Scopus are not unique to this issue, and demonstrates the need for an ongoing, rigorous, and transparent content selection and evaluation process. Scopus relies on their Content Selection and Advisory Board (CSAB), comprised of scientists, researchers, and librarians, for identifying new journals for inclusion and re-evaluating existing titles that are flagged for concern.
Following an extensive redesign of the interface in 2021, Scopus has continued to make systematic updates and improvements to search functionality. The search results page has been redesigned to include the ability to toggle results between list or table view, a more intuitive application or removal of filters, and the ability to edit a basic search query directly from the results page. Export functionality has also been redesigned with an improved workflow and increased export capacity of up to 20,000 full document records in CSV, TXT, BIB, or RIS formats.
Scopus has also made improvements to their analytics and metrics features that increase the amount and types of data available. The document details page now includes the Views Count metric that displays the number of views a document receives, a potential indicator of its future impact. More article records now include funding information, allowing users to easily view identified funders associated with a publication. Also added to the document details page is the author profile flyout, providing users with key details of an author without having to navigate away to the individual’s profile page, and a similar flyout with information about a publication’s related substances for users of Reaxys. Author profile metrics were recently introduced, allowing researchers to track the impact of their work beyond traditional measurements such as document and citation counts. The new author metrics include collaborations, documents in top citation percentiles, and documents in top 25% journals. Using the enriched author metrics, the new Researcher Discovery Tool allows users to find experts in a particular field and assists in building their personal research network.
One feature that was unfortunately not available for review is Scopus AI, Elsevier’s new generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool. Currently in limited beta testing, Scopus AI is described as being designed to help early-career researchers navigate and understand unfamiliar disciplines. When users input a natural-language query, a summary of results is generated that includes references, related queries, and a graphical representation of connections between keywords3. Elsevier is not the only major publisher to be developing an AI interface for their platform4; this is a growing area of development for librarians and researchers to watch.
Scopus continues to be available from Elsevier through an annual subscription, with a pricing structure dependent on institution size, research output, and geographic location. Access is through IP authentication, and options for remote access include federated authentication, proxy server, VPN, secure login link, or registration IDs. Access to full-text content available through a library’s subscriptions can be set up using OpenURL and all major link resolvers.
Scopus remains a good choice for research and academic institutions looking for a multidisciplinary abstract and citation database with a strong focus in the STEM fields. It continues to be particularly useful for those looking to track publication output by individuals or institutions, but users must remember that citation metrics are not universally comparable and do not tell the entire story of one’s research impact.
1. Macháček, V., Srholec, M. 2022. Retraction Note to: Predatory publishing in Scopus: evidence on cross-country differences. Scientometrics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-021-04149-w
2. McCullough, R. 2021. The importance of high-quality content in Scopus. Available from: https://blog.scopus.com/posts/the-importance-of-high-quality-content-in-scopus
3. Elsevier. 2023. Scopus AI: Change the way you view knowledge. Available from: https://www.elsevier.com/products/scopus/scopus-ai
4. Van Noorden, R. August 2, 2023. ChatGPT-like AIs are coming to major science search engines. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-02470-3