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Lund University


Biology library guide to information searches

Bibliographic databases

What is a bibliographic database?

In the bibliographic databases you search in the bibliographic information, which means words that describe the publication (for example title, authors, abstract, keywords). Examples of websites that search in bibliographic databases are: Web of ScienceScopus and PubMed.

Subject keywords

All databases also have a more or less detailed system for manually adding subject keywords 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.

Quality control and fine tuning

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. In addition, there are also many options to use filters to sort out the most relevant publications from your search result list.

Overview: 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

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 has access 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.
  • MEDLINE (1950-). The US National library of Medicine life sciences database (foundation of PubMed).
  • Zoological Record (1864-). The world's leading taxonomic reference and oldest continuing database of animal biology.
  • Also KCI (Korean Journal Database), SciELO Citation Index and Preprint Citation Index

A good starting point is to search all these databases simultaneously by choosing Web of Science: all databases. You will get more and better search results. The only reason for selecting a specific database to do your search in would be if you want to take advantage of that database's specific information fields.

Below is a link to the company's own training page:


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.

If you would like to learn more about hos to use Scopus, follow the link below that leads to Elsevier's page with several tutorial videos:


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: