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Lund University


Biology library guide to information searches

Bibliographic databases

General information about bibliographic databases (Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed)

In the bibliographic databases you search in the bibliographic information, which means words that describe the publication (for example title, authors, abstract, keywords). All databases also have a more or less detailed system for manually adding subject terms that describe the content. For example, a paper that deal with salmon can have the subject terms "fish", "pisces", "vertebrata" and "animal" added to the bibliographic information. This means you will find this paper when searching for "animal" even though it may not be mentioned anywhere in the title or abstract.

More or less everything that you find in the scientific bibliographic databases has been quality controlled, which means that you will not have to worry about non-serious publishers. Another benefit of the bibliographic databases is that you have many options to adjust your search and have full control over it. In addition, there are also many options to use filters to sort out the most relevant publications from your search result list.

Main benefits of bibliographic databases

  • Manually added subject terms. Will find relevant publications independent of the author's chosen terms.
  • Rigorous quality control. You don't need to worry about non-serious publishers
  • Search customization. Many options to adjust your search and and have full control over it
  • Filtering of results. Many options to sort out the most relevant publications from your search results list.
  • Search History. You can go back and look at you previous results within the same session. If you start an account, you can save searches and create search alerts.

Web of Science

Web of Science

The Web of Science platform brings together many different types of content for searching - journal articles, patents, websites, conference proceedings and Open Access material. Lund University subscribes to the following databases on the Web of Science platform:

  • Web of Science Core Collection (1900-). Large database of scholarly journals, books and proceedings as well as citation network.
  • BIOSIS® Previews (1969-). Database of life science and biomedical research.
  • CABI: CAB Abstracts® and Global Health® (1973-). Database of research on agriculture, environment and related applied life sciences.
  • FSTA® - the food science resource (1969-). Food science database.
  • KCI Korean Journal Database (1980-). Korean journal database.
  • MEDLINE® (1950-). The US National library of Medicine life sciences database (foundation of PubMed).
  • Russian Science Citation Index (2005-). Database of russian science journals.
  • SciELO Citation Index (2002-). Database of OA journals from Latin America, Portugal, Spain and South Africa.
  • Zoological Record® (1864-). The world's leading taxonomic reference and oldest continuing database of animal biology.

A good starting point is to search all these databases simultaneously by choosing Web of Science: all databases. You will get more search results, but will have fewer options of customizing your search. Below you can find a film on how to use Web of Science, from the company Clarivate.



Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and quality web sources with tools to track, analyze and visualize research. In comparison to Web of Science, Scopus has a bigger scope and covers articles in press. However, Web of Science Core Collection is more complete when it comes to citations prior to 1996. Below you can find a tutorial on how to use Scopus from the company Elsevier.



PubMed comprises more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites. An alternative database to find medical/biomedical publications is Embase.

Online tutorial on how to use PubMed from National Library of Medicine: https://learn.nlm.nih.gov/documentation/training-packets/T0042010P/

Below you can find a tutorial on how to build an advanced search query in PubMed from NCBI.