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Further licensing of Scopus and Web of Science – result of the survey

TUB has already licensed the two databases Scopus and Web of Science for you for several years. Both are multidisciplinary abstract and citation databases with which systematic literature searches can be carried out.

However, they also serve to gain an overview of research areas, to support project applications and appointments, and to make one’s own research profile more visible. TUHH publications are transferred from Scopus via interfaces to TUHH Open Research. This is only possible without problems via Scopus, whereas additional costs would be charged for Web of Science. Scopus also serves as the basis for the annual THE ranking.

Read more: Further licensing of Scopus and Web of Science – result of the survey

High license fees
Both databases together will cost us a mid 5-digit sum in 2023. Scopus is the significantly cheaper database, but still contains the interfaces for automated processing. These would have to be additionally licensed for Web of Science.
Since both databases cover similar content, the consideration was whether one database would not suffice and additional literature could be provided instead. Since Scopus is also important for TORE for the reason mentioned above, Scopus should be kept in any case, so that Web of Science would be omitted.

Access figures
When looking at the user statistics, Scopus is in the lead, but this is also partly due to system queries of the TUHH repository TORE. Unfortunately, the regular annual price increase makes it increasingly difficult to finance both databases. Thus, the question will repeatedly arise in the future whether it will be possible to continue renewing the licenses for both databases or whether it makes more sense to finance access to additional literature instead.

The decision
Of course, TUB did not want to make this decision without you. Therefore, in order to involve you as users, we conducted an anonymous online survey between May 10 and June 7, 2023, to collect data on the use of the Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus databases.

121 professors and research assistants participated, thank you very much!

And, to make it clear at this point: Web of Science will continue to be licensed!

This is because in the free text responses to the survey, the survey participants were very much in favor of this and also gave reasons for this.

Even if the partially limited access to the literature found is mentioned here, the first step to obtaining information is the research. For this reason, we want to continue to provide you with the widest possible range of databases.

As TUB, we will continue to focus on enabling the next step as well: actual access to the sources. However, this also depends on the financing options.

Results of the survey

What is used and how often?

Both databases are used. Scopus with 80 mentions slightly more than WoS with 59. Some participants of the survey stated that they use both WoS and Scopus.

Fig. 1: Question 1 – Do you use the databases?

Fig. 2: Q2 – How often do they use the databases?

Almost one third of the respondents use the WoS and Scopus databases on a weekly basis. This is followed by irregular use (23%), monthly use (16%) and daily use (almost 14%).

How are databases used and for what purpose?

Access is mostly manual via the publisher’s websites. Only occasionally do automatic script queries take place (F3, How do you use Scopus or Web of Science?).

When asked about the purpose of use (F4), “research overview” (48%) and “determining rankings” (27%) were named most frequently in addition to “research” (70%).

Fig. 3: Q4 – For what purpose do you use the publication databases?

Is there anything against the further licensing of WoS?

This question (F5) is not answered clearly. 50 participants would not object to terminating WoS, but 45 would. They cite various reasons for continuing to disclose. In the following, some comments are listed as representative for the respective perspective:

Some participants describe WoS as the better database, “far superior” and as the most important and efficient database, especially in the area of innovation.
Scopus has meanwhile established itself, also at other universities, and should be kept in any case, but WoS should be licensed as a supplement, because it offers an additional overview and is superior for thematic literature research.

The intersection of the results of both databases is partly not so large and some documents would not have been found only with the search with Scopus.

Also in our last question (F6) for comments, there were several voices in favor of keeping WoS as a research database:

“Moreover, without WoS, we would foreseeably see an increase in the trend of younger scholars searching via Google Scholar, where we expose ourselves to incomprehensible Internet priority criteria and also fail to take advantage of the full functionality of a differentiated search platform.”

Distinction between discoverability and accessibility of literature sources

In the comments, however, some answers also intermingled with the topic of accessibility of literature. For example, criticism was repeatedly voiced that there are insufficient possibilities at the TUHH to access licensed sources and that detours had to be made via the staff library, for example: “Even now, conducting accurate literature research is very limited, as there is no access via the TUHH to large parts of the literature from Elsevier or Taylor & Francis, for example.”

Again, the danger of research restriction and the need for competitiveness of TUHH research is pointed out: Thus, “…the termination of WoS […] is not acceptable for a research university”, or, “we firmly believe that discontinuing the WoS license will detrimentally impact our research capabilities and the overall quality of academic work at our institution”.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your participation, which enabled us to make the above decision in your favor.

We are always available for comments and queries.

Your TUB

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