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Transition from Web of Science to Scopus: Rationale for
Transition

COST

The exact pricing is confidential, but the annual cost of USU’s subscription to Web of Science is enough to purchase a very comfortable home in Logan.

In contrast, the subscription cost for Scopus is less than one-third of what we currently pay for Web of Science.

Both subscriptions are subject to annual “inflation,” or cost increases built into our license agreements (generally well above the actual rate of inflation). This is understandable because they are provided by businesses seeking to turn a profit. But because the increased costs compound, even if the annual rate of increase is comparable between the two databases, the lower-cost option is that much more preferable.

Finally, both Scopus and Web of Science are indexes, which means they do not provide access to the full-text content; they merely link to it if we have a subscription elsewhere. So by making this cancellation, the Library can avoid reducing the University’s access to journal articles, for which we expend millions of dollars per year and which carry their own annual increases of 5–7% on average.

COMPARABILITY

The resources provided in Scopus are very similar to those of Web of Science. Both provide:

  • Citation counts and other measures of article impact
  • Analytical tools around author and journal metrics
  • Chaining of sources to later citations and sources cited
  • Linking to articles in USU-subscribed journals
  • Advanced searching by author affiliation and many other metadata fields

The number of journals indexed in Scopus is slightly higher than in Web of Science. The most important journals in a given field are extremely likely to be indexed in both databases. Non-journal content, including book chapters and conference proceedings, are covered in much greater depth in Scopus than in Web of Science.

Retrospective indexing is included in Scopus’s cost whereas indexing prior to 1975 in Web of Science would require a substantial additional investment.

See the Content Comparisons page for a more detailed review of the literature comparing the two databases.

FUTURE STABILITY

The indexes that make up Web of Science—the Science, Social Science, and Arts & Humanities Citation Indexes—successfully braved the transition from print index to CD-ROM to web application. Perhaps more telling, they braved the peaceful transition of ownership from their creator’s company, Institute for Scientific Information, to information powerhouse Thomson Reuters in 1992.

But the more recent acquisition of Web of Science and a suite of other products by venture-capital firm Clarivate Analytics has no real precedent and leaves questions about the product’s future. If the past actions of venture capitalists are any indication, likely developments include an increased profit motive and possibly resale of the database—which are not in line with the Library’s goal of providing access to the scholarly record.

We have no illusions about Elsevier’s being saintly, but at least it is a known player with which we have existing business relations.