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Using Scopus for Bibliometric Analysis: A Practical Guide
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Introductory Comments by David Tempest
David Tempest
David Tempest

The researchers of bibliometrics – “the application of statistical analyses to study patterns of authorship, publication and literature use” (Lancaster, 1977) – over the last 50 years have developed several indicators which have become widely used by funding bodies, librarians, publishers and researchers.

Of all the indicators developed and postulated, the most used has been the impact factor. This indicator proposed a method by which the above-mentioned users could assign a theoretical, calculated “quality” and ranking to a journal. The impact factor was pretty much installed as the industry standard indicator, but there have always been others bubbling under the surface and, following recent scrutiny of the standard, there have been calls for these other indicators to rise to the surface.

At the same time, other players have entered the bibliometric playing field alongside Thomson Scientific (formerly ISI), where the impact factor had its origin. In particular Elsevier’s development of Scopus has brought about significant changes to how users approach bibliometric analysis and a shift toward analysis of the author or the actual article, rather than the journal. In addition, citation databases have evolved to become navigation tools through the literature (with users linking through references) as much as quality assessment tools. Indeed both Scopus and Thomson Scientific’s Web of Science endeavor to provide this functionality to users.

We are now entering a new era of bibliometric analysis, where not just traditional applications of the citation are important but in which new technological metrics using Internet and usage statistics have been proposed. These have now been developed into specialized fields described as webometrics and cybermetrics. A key point concerning any newly developed metrics is that many issues that have been discussed regarding the impact factor will remain with all these new metrics – issues such as how to deal with or account for subject field of the author, article type, size of the community and so on. If these are not corrected or accounted for within a particular indicator, then many issues users had with the impact factor will pass to these second-generation indicators.

The following articles discuss ways in which one of the new citation databases, Scopus, was developed and how it is updated and guided by its advisory board, as well as ways Scopus is utilized as a bibliometric tool by researchers and their institutions.

To address the issue of new indicators, one article focuses on one of the most widely discussed metrics, the H Index, which was proposed by Professor Hirsch at the University of California, San Diego, Department of Physics. This indicator was developed to assist in quantifying an individual’s scientific research output, primarily in physics, but has been rapidly taken up and studied in depth around the world, leading to its application to researchers in diverse disciplines. The article demonstrates to the reader how Scopus can be utilized to develop an H index.

I hope you will find this pamphlet offers useful insights into how Scopus, the world’s largest bibliographic database, can provide practical assistance to researchers and institutes in their day-to-day work. end bullet


David Tempest, Associate Director, Scientometrics & Knowledge Management, Elsevier, Oxford, UK

David Tempest, who serves as associate director of Elsevier's Research & Academic Relations Department, specializes in
scientometrics (the study of science, economics and bibliometrics) and knowledge management. A frequent presenter at events around the world, David often addresses bibliometric analysis regarding journals and has given many presentations on the impact factor, including its use, abuse and misconceptions. In 2005, his article examining the effect of title changes on the impact factor was published in the journal Learned Publishing. David also speaks on publishing matters in general – such as the publishing industry, development of journals and writing scientific articles. Having earned a degree in pharmacology from the University of Sunderland in the UK, David is currently studying for an MBA.