What You Need To Know About Scopus
Citation Indexing

What You Need To Know About Scopus

Kanu Priya
Kanu Priya

The Go-to-Guide for Researchers and Publishers

I think there's a good chance you found this article through a search query or recommendation. If your interest is in scholarly literature, you probably have heard of the database known as Scopus before. But do you know what it is? How does it benefit researchers and journal publishers? This blog post will answer all these questions. I'll walk you through the history of Scopus, including some other essential aspects of it.


A brief overview of the world of Scopus

Scopus is one of the most comprehensive abstract, citation, and indexing databases of choice for many entities in the publishing business, including researchers, academic institutions, government agencies, journal publishers, and organizations. It is built on Elsevier's powerful search and linking technology to give you an extensive outline of the world's research output in the disciplines of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities. In addition, Scopus provides rich analytics and visualization capabilities to help you analyze your research data.

Scopus is a reliable platform with manifold uses. It enables you to showcase your research in a striking, interactive profile that makes it irresistible to search engines, Scopus helps you connect with the right people at the right time and share your work.

Scopus covers nearly 36,377 titles (22,794 active titles and 13,583 inactive titles) from approximately 11,678 publishers, of which 34,346 are peer-reviewed journals in top-level subject fields. Therefore, as research becomes progressively competitive, global, and collaborative, you can be sure your critical analysis is not missed.

Diversity of source types

Scopus operates under various source types to ensure that a wide range of publication categories get global coverage. The types of sources covered in Scopus are serial publications, non-serial publications, and others.

Serial Source Types

  • Book Series - Book series is a book with an overall title, an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), and an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number). Usually published inconsistently, each book is a monographic publication with a title separate from the series title and a different editor.
  • Journals - Most of the content in Scopus is made up of Journals that have many physical formats like print, electronic and more. Content coverage policy plays a huge role in the selection of titles. Any serial publication with an ISSN can be suggested for a Scopus review, newsletters, secondary sources, or patent publications.
  • Trade Journals: Trade journals are serial publications dedicated to a particular industry, trade, or type of business. Publications such as these generally are magazines with topical articles, news items, and advertisements that appeal to those in the field.

Non-serial Source Types

  • A non-serial source, also known as a monograph or composed work, is a publication with an ISBN unless it is a report, part of a book series, or patent. It can have different physical formats (e.g., print, electronic) and is usually a monograph or composing work.
  • Coverage has been substantially expanded since 2013. Along with the current catalog of books and series,  It also now includes edited volumes, monologues, major reference books, and much more. The current pace of content addition stands at 20,000 titles yearly; a total of over 210,000 have already been added. The coverage of fields like social sciences and humanities has significantly increased after the expansion.

Other Source Types

  • Secondary documents  - Approximately 210 million records are non-core or secondary documents. These are citations that appear in Scopus core records but are not themselves indexed in Scopus. Books and older journal articles are the most highly cited of these non-core items.
  • Patents -  More than 43.7 million patent records have been procured from five patent offices that are a part of Scopus:

1. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

2. European Patent Office (EPO)

3. US Patent Office (USPTO)

4. Japanese Patent Office (JPO)

5. UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO.GOV.UK)

The Wide Range of Metadata


1. Keywords and Index Terms: 80% of the index terms added are acquired from thesauri that Elsevier owns or licenses and are added by Scopus’s manual efforts. These are included per these controlled vocabularies:

  • MeSH (life sciences, health sciences)
  • Ei Thesaurus (engineering, technology, physical sciences)
  • Emtree medical terms (life sciences, health sciences) and more.

There is no limit to how many index terms are Scopus allowed to include in their records, but in some cases, in order to avoid obtaining irrelevant results, the index terms that have proper relevance with the topic of the article are only shown and made searchable on Scopus.

2. Affiliation Data: There is an amazing tool available in Scopus, wherein the Scopus Affiliation Identifier identifies and compliments an organization with all of its research output on its own. This tool makes it possible to search, based on affiliation data from over 70,000 affiliation profiles available on Scopus, making it extremely relevant for researchers, deans, project leaders, faculty heads, etc., to complete a task in minutes that would take days to complete otherwise.

3. Document Types: Some documents go as far back as 1970. The main focus of Scopus lies in primary documents from serial publications, as it does not include secondary documents. Document types like articles, books, data papers, etc., are covered while other types like letters, reviews, notes, and more are not.

Other metadata

  • PubMed ID - Searchable via advanced search, PubMed ID works as the unique identifier for MEDLINE documents appearing on the records page, i.e., the abstracts and reference page, as well as in the export of records when available.
  • Funding Data - Scopus is busy making changes and improvements to the addition of funding data on Scopus, enabling the text to be searchable and easier to find out what research is being funded and by whom.
  • Open Access - Well, more than 5,500 articles are now openly accessible. These refer to the journals that are available without any barriers and while being peer-reviewed. Open access is only registered at the journal level and not at an article level. These journals are only openly accessible if they are registered as Gold OA or Subsidized OA.

Scopus includes an open access indicator for journals that are indexed in its database. This indicator allows users to identify open access journals within Scopus with just the Browse Sources link. In addition, the link gives an alphabetical list of the journals, book series, trade publications and conference proceedings available in Scopus.

Criteria for Title selection

There are some minimum criteria essential for all journal titles to meet in order to be considered for the review:

  • Should have relevant content to be read by an international audience, such as Roman script references and English language abstracts and titles.
  • The content should be peer-reviewed and must include a description or report of the peer review process that is publically available.
  • Should have an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) as registered with the ISSN International Centre and be published on the regular.
  • Publication ethics and publication malpractice statements should be easily available from the journal owner or publisher.

Members of CSAB (Content Selection & Advisory Board ) have eagle eyes for quality literature. They Are dedicated to actively seek out and select literature that adheres to the standards and credibility of the research community that Scopus represents.

Journals that are eligible for review by the CSAB will be assessed on the following five categories - Journal policy, Content, Journal standing, Publishing regularity, and Online availability.

The quality of our content is top priority for Scopus. Therefore, Scopus runs the annual re-evaluation program to keep the journal quality consistently high that identifies journals that are underperforming and are not meeting the appropriate standards.

Self-citations, Total citation rate, Citescore, Number of articles, number of full-text clicks on Scopus.com, and Abstract usage on Scopus.com are the six benchmarks which, when not met accordingly, Scopus reports the journal for quality improvement and gives one year to improve at least one metric.

How Scopus Obtains and Processes Scholarly Content

Scopus receives research and scientific content from over 5,000 publishers worldwide, both in print and electronic formats, through content delivery agreements signed with each publisher.

However, Scopus gets a large volume of data from publishers in electronic, machine-readable formats. Over 95% of the content is delivered to the database in XML and PDF formats (i.e., via e-Feeds) or is sourced from journal websites. Submitting articles in JATS compliant XML files makes content processing and indexing faster. Usually, fully-indexed, properly formatted articles show up on Scopus in about 2-3 weeks of publication.

On the other hand, for publishers still taking the paper/print format route for distributing their journals issues, Scopus takes a longer time to process and index the content, 4-5 weeks. Therefore, going digital and indexing your research work in JATS XML format in Scopus’ database is a smart move.

But, publishers usually struggle with journal formatting and production of XML files as it gets technical and tedious if done manually. So, the most cost-effective and time-efficient approach to this would be leveraging an intelligent journal management platform like Typeset that automates the article-level XML conversion workflow.

Conclusion: The Bigger Picture

Scopus is a source-neutral largest abstract and citation database administered by independent subject matter experts.

Scopus is globally designed to serve researchers’ needs best and make sure that relevant scientific information is present in the database. More than 50% of Scopus content emerges from outside North American countries like Latin America, Asia Pacific regions, and Europe.

Scopus offers the widest coverage of peer-reviewed literature and quality resources across the fields of  STM, as well as social sciences, arts & humanities. So, choose your field, and get started!

But before you go,


If you found the above article insightful, the following article pieces might also interest you:

  1. Get Indexed: List of Prominent Indices for Academic Journals
  2. How to Get Your Journal Articles Indexed in DOAJ: The Go-To Guide for OA Publishers
  3. How to Get Your Articles Indexed in PubMed: The Go-To Guide for Publishers
  4. How to increase citation count of your research paper?