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Elsevierís Scopus Introduces Citation Tracker: Challenge to Thomson ISIís Web of Science?
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Posted On January 23, 2006
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Spiteri indicated that Scopus planned to make improvements in two areas: "[I]ntegration with other applications, for example we will introduce a Web-based package for RefWorks from CSA for real-time updating of personal bibliographies and integration of chemical structure searching with MDL's two applications, CrossFire Beilstein and DiscoveryGate. We also plan to do more to integrate Web searching with Scirus, e.g., with references to Scopus articles linked to documents on the Web." As a quality control feature, Scopus only links out to documents with more than 10 citations when connecting Scirus citations. Spiteri also hopes to improve author identification, again pointing out that variants in author names remains an industrywide problem.

Thomson ISI's Pringle confirmed that the company saw Scopus as a direct competitor with Web of Science. He pointed out that WoS has tools for trend analysis as well as "simple tracking" and citation data back to the very beginning of the 20th century. Refined subject searching in WoS could use hundreds of subject categories derived from "fine granular" bibliometric analysis and see displays with percentages, bar charts, etc., using the same data that backed up other WoS services like Essential Science Indicators. The company also launched a beta release of Web Citation Index, which "differs from Scirus by dealing with citation relationships including working papers, technical reports, etc., not just indexing of full text, but also citation relationships." When it comes to new Web of Science and Web of Knowledge advances, Pringle pointed out that the company would be launching a Web-based EndNote soon, bringing its popular bibliographic management service into Web of Science support.

Overall, it seems like Elsevier and Thomson ISI are chasing many of the same advances, as well as similar markets. Pringle admitted that "citation tracking is turning into a generic feature. The challenge is the resolution of superior data, superior organization, and more reliable features and functions." For all the "one-stop shopping" claims that both Scopus and Web of Science have made, neither seem to have added any advanced social networking or community building features. Features that might allow institutions or research teams to share search strategies, citation lists, comments on team search results, etc., are not yet present. Both Spiteri and Pringle indicated the companies were looking into the areas closely.

Usually tight competition means opportunities for smart buyers. Pringle would not provide any numbers for Web of Science pricing, butówhen I mentioned that an anonymous Scopus representative murmured something about $20,000 to $60,000óhe did say they were very competitive. I asked Pringle if he had considered whether Thomson ISI might license its data to other outlets, such as Elsevier Scopus. He said: "In fact, that was a path I probably would have recommended a year ago, but over the past year, I've been very impressed with Web of Science's performance, recognized in sales, renewals, and customer loyalty. People are voting with their feet in our direction. On the other hand, we continue to look at whether relationships make sense for us and our customers. We have no preconceived notions."


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Barbara Quint is senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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