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Scopus is a database with paid access. The Finnish organisations that have subscribed to the database as well as the user rights of the database can be found at FinElib's Scopus page.

Database content and quality assurance

From the perspective of publication metrics, the Scopus database by the publisher Elsevier is one of the key sources of publication data. Scopus was released in 2004, and it quickly emerged as a competitor to the Web of Science database that had been in operation much longer.

One of the key benefits of Scopus, in relation to Web of Science, in particular, is its coverage, as it indexes more than 82 million documents from more than 7,000 different publishers. As is typical, the coverage is the best in journals (about 24,000 journals in 2020), but the amount of conference publications (about 9.8 million conference publications in 2020) is also significant in some fields. The coverage has also long been improved in terms of books and book chapters, and about 850 book series and more than 210,000 books had been indexed in the database by the beginning of 2020. In addition to the traditional types of publications, about 44 million patents can also be searched for via Scopus. The content of Scopus is described fairly extensively on their own coverage page. 

The quality of the content indexed by Scopus is monitored by the Content Selection and Advisory Board (CSAB), composed of independent experts from various fields. CSAB evaluates all the publication channels proposed for indexing by applying both qualitative and quantitative indicators. About 3,500 new channels are proposed to be added to Scopus every year, but only 33% of these exceed the technical criteria. Of these, only about 50 per cent are finally accepted into the database after CSAB’s evaluation. In addition to the new publication channels, the CSAB also reassesses channels whose production has been deemed inadequate after they have already been accepted into the database. The activities of the CSAB and the metrics they apply, among other factors, are described on Scopus’s pages describing their content policy and selection process. 

Scopus’s treatment of channels it deems unreliable, such as predatory channels has brought up some discussions. If a publication channel is removed from Scopus by CSAB’s decision, this means that its indexing will be stopped in the future. However, publications from this publication channel that have been included in the database prior to this will still remain in it. By applying this method, CSAB aims to maintain its own objective for the stability and cohesiveness of using publication data in the database.

Classification of fields of science

In Scopus, the classification of a field of science is known by the name All Science Journal Classification (ASJC). The classification has been implemented on two levels, with the upper classification divided into 27 categories. The subcategories under these main categories include further 304 categories. Each publication in the database belongs to one or more categories based on its publication channel. The classification of field of science is utilised for calculating several indicators, such as CiteScore indicator calculated for publication channels and the Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) indicator. In Scopus, the ASJC classification can be utilised for searches and filtering the search results, for example. The page Differences between the fields of science of this guide has more information on the classifications of field of science.

Basic functionalities

The database structure of Scopus allows searching for publications using document, author, affiliation and source searches.


The main use of citation databases is usually to view documents at the document level using search phrases. The form template that guides the applicant for a basic search usually gives sufficient opportunities to carry out the search, but the advanced document search itself is the only possibility to take advantage of all the different search possibilities offered by Scopus. For more information on search options, please see the Scopus search guide.

Scopuksen etusivu, johon on erityisesti merkitty vaikeasti löytyvä linkki edistyneeseen hakuun (Advanced document search)

Figure 1. A view of the Scopus front page, which is also the only page for accessing the database’s actual advanced document search. The front page also offers access to all the different search forms. Scopus,, 7 April 2022.


The about 17 million author profiles created on the basis of Scopus algorithms allow for results to be reviewed by an author. Scopus Author Identifier and the algorithm applied to it identify individual authors based on the author information on publications and compare them with the profiles made. In addition to the authors’ names, the algorithm applies factors such as organisation information, addresses, field of science, publication channel, publication date, citations and co-authors to identify the authors. Scopus also allows researchers to link their ORCID profile to their Scopus researcher profile, which helps the algorithm to identify the correct profiles for the publications. Linking in the ORCID profile also makes it possible to transfer the publication information from Scopus to the researcher’s own ORCID profile.

Researchers can also request corrections to be made to their own profiles directly through their profile page. This gives them the option to include publications linked to incorrect profiles in their own profiles. They can also influence how their name is presented as well as their organisation information. The requests for researcher profile rectifications can also be sent by people other than the researchers themselves, such as people working with the publication metrics of their organisation. 

Scopus has a separate search section for author profiles, which allows users to search for authors by their name but also their organisation information. Individual articles also always link back to the author profiles.


In addition to the author profiles, Scopus uses its algorithms to create profiles for the affiliations presented in the publications and about 80,000 of these have been identified thus far. This information is also collected through the author information presented in the publications, from which the algorithm attempts to identify and link each publication to its correct organisations. Organisations also have the option to rectify their profiles using the Institution Profile Wizard (IPW) tool. The rights to using this tool can only be granted to a limited number of representatives officially authorised by the organisation itself.


The Sources section in Scopus allows users to view the publication channels included in Scopus in the same way that the Journal Citation Reports service allows users to view the publication channels of the Web of Science database. As of November 2021, more than 42,000 publication channels could be viewed through this section. With regard to the sources included in the database, factors such as coverage years in Scopus and the source’s classified field of science can be viewed, as well as a range of indicator values received by the publication channel. The indicators include, among others, the CiteScore, and SJR and SNIP indicators, which have been presented in more detail in the chapter on Indicators used to evaluate journals.

Analysis tools

While most of the time it is most effective to produce publishing sets from Scopus and analyse them using other tools, Scopus itself offers some analysis possibilities for the result sets.

The clearest of these options is the Analyze search results function, which allows users to analyse and visualise the results from the following perspectives:

  • the number of publications annually
  • the number of publications on different publication channels annually
  • the number of publications by author
  • the number of publications by organisation
  • the number of publications by country
  • the number of publications and their proportions by publication type
  • the number of publications and their proportions by the field of science
  • the number of publications by a funder.

The publication sets can also be analysed with the View citation overview function, which allows for reviewing the citations received by the publications in the set. The tool can be used to calculating a total number of citations and a h-index value for the publications. Annual numbers of citations are also available for the publication set and all the individual publications in it. When calculating the citations, you can choose to remove the self-citations of all authors and citations from books.

Limitations and criticism

The key limitation regarding Scopus is its accessibility, as using the database is subject to a charge. Large universities have often acquired user licences for their university community, but the situation is not the same for smaller universities, universities of applied sciences or research institutes. In the case of Finnish organisations, you can check whether Scopus is available in them by visiting the FinElib consortium’s Scopus subscribers page (only in Finnish).

The Scopus database also has some major drawbacks in its coverage, especially in parts of human sciences. The most significant deficiencies in terms of coverage are in books and conference publications. Unlike the Web of Science database, no book reviews are indexed in Scopus. The database also mainly focuses on literature written in English, which also places limitations on the coverage. The database does also accept publications in languages other than English, but one of the selection criteria for indexing the publication channel is that the articles published on the publication channel contain abstracts and titles in English. The age of the publications also impacts the coverage. Even though the oldest publications in the database date back to 1788, the cited references for all publications are only available starting from 1970. This means that publications can only be included in citation-based analyses from the 1970s.

From the perspective of publication metrics, Scopus also has some technical limitations that make processing large result sets particularly challenging. If the user wants to create a report with complete data provided by the database for publications, the maximum limit to processing the result set is 2,000 publications. If the user needs the most common set of citation information, the limit is 20,000 publications. The same limit of 20,000 publications also applies to transferring a publication sets to the SciVal tool.

Other options for using Scopus data

The publication data included by Scopus can also be utilised with the help of Scopus API without using the actual user interface. The machine-readable use of Scopus publication data with the help of Scopus API requires programming skills, and only Scopus subscribers have the full use of the database through API.

Even though the Scopus UI has limitations on processing large quantities of publications, Elsevier has enabled the research use of large quantities of data in its own systems, such as Scopus, through the separate, cloud-based ICSR Lab platform. A user licence can be applied for via a separate application including a research plan. More information about the platform is available on ICSR Lab’s own website.


Elsevier (no date) Scopus. Available: [Accessed 4.11.2021]

Elsevier (no date) Scopus LibGuide. Available: [Accessed 9.5.2022]

Elsevier (no date) Scopus: Access and use Support Center. Available: [Accessed 20.10.2021]

Elsevier (no date) Elsevier Developer Portal: Products: Scopus. Available: [Accessed 13.4.2022]

Meester, W. (2021) The guardians of Scopus. Elsevier Connect. Available: [Accessed 20.10.2021]

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