What happened to Web of Science?


As budgets tighten and costs increase, the J. Paul Leonard Library has been taking a close look at the value and cost benefits of the resources it purchases on behalf of the San Francisco State community. One such resource that the library has been assessing is Web of Science, a database that allows users to search citations and abstracts from scholarly journals, books, and proceedings in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities as well as to track citation activity and trends.  Web of Science was one of the first resources to be evaluated because of its high cost, relatively low usage, and status as an index--a discovery tool that does not include the full text of materials.
Under the general direction of the Library’s Collection Development Advisory Group, library faculty liaisons consulted with academic departments most likely to be the heaviest users of Web of Science (e.g., Biology, Math, Engineering, Chemistry, Geology, and Nursing) to get their input on their use of the database for teaching and/or research. There were no strong advocates for retaining Web of Science within those departments. They also met with the College Council for the College of Science and Engineering with the same feedback. The general feedback from all of these faculty groups was that there were other resources that would be a higher priority for them, including other databases, journals, and e-books, as well as making course materials more affordable for students through Library subscriptions and licenses.
In addition to consulting with various stakeholders, the Collection Development Advisory Group carefully analyzed the Web of Science platform and compared it to other resources. The group concluded that although Web of Science is sometimes used as a discovery tool, its most useful functions are now integrated into other platforms available to the SF State community. Its advanced searching mechanism--using facets to limit results--while once innovative, is now commonplace in databases. Its links between citing and cited articles is now available in Google Scholar, and for some articles, in OneSearch.

As a result of their year-long assessment, the Collection Development Advisory Group determined that Web of Science should be canceled. The cancellation took effect January 1, 2021.

The Library wants to reassure our community that the cancellation of Web of Science will not result in any reduction of access to resources. As mentioned above, Web of Science is an index, which means that our subscription to the platform did not include any full-text access. In other words, none of the full text access we have is tied to the subscription, and we will still maintain the same access to journals and articles as we did before.
We realize, however, that some members of our community are accustomed to using Web of Science to search for articles, relying on the “check for full text” links to access articles in other databases. If Web of Science was your primary mechanism for searching, we recommend the following alternatives:

  • OneSearch
    OneSearch allows you to search most of the content available in our 200+ databases as well as the books in our Library and the other libraries in the California State University system.
  • Other Subject Specific Databases
    On our Databases page, you can narrow by subject areas to find other databases specific to your area of research.
  • Google Scholar
    Google Scholar replicates Web of Science’s function of linking to cited articles as well as articles that share citations, and it generally has more comprehensive coverage of new articles than Web of Science.

If you have questions or would like to learn about this cancellation, please contact David Hellman, Collection Development Coordinator, at hellman@sfsu.edu.

  • Last Updated Apr 16, 2024
  • Views 1011
  • Answered By William Jacobs

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