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Searching Scopus

Refining Your Search

You may need to refine your search if you have a large number of results and not many of them look relevant to your topic, or if you are getting very few results, or none at all. Below are some tips for refining your search.

Scopus offers a number of options for making your search more specific:

  • Often the best outcome will be from using more than one of these options

Changing the display options (or re-sorting results)

Try changing the way a large set of results is displayed from Date (newest) to:

Relevanceto promote those references whose terminology most closely matches your search terms
Cited by (highest)finds those references which have been most frequently read and cited (these will be older references)
Scopus display options

Editing your search strategy

Try searching for the most important search term in Article Title only, or search for background terms in Abstract only.

Scopus edit search terms

Using proximity (adjacency) operators

You can use what is called a proximity operator to find only records where words are in close proximity.
Scopus has two proximity operators:

  1. W/n "within n words of"
    Example: (manipulat* W/3 (neck OR spine OR spinal))

    Any of the terms neck, spine or spinal must occur within 3 words of manipulate, manipulation.
    This will find both spinal manipulation, and manipulation of the spine.

  2. PRE/n "precedes by"
    Example: (manipulat* PRE/3 (neck OR spine OR spinal))

    Any of the terms neck, spine or spinal must occur within 3 words of and following manipulate, manipulation.
    This will find manipulation of the neck and manipulation of the spine, but not spinal manipulation.

  • When using proximity operators, be careful to correctly place and match the brackets.

Using the ‘Search within results...’ feature

You can focus your results by using the Search within results... box at the top of the left-hand sidebar.

Scopus Search within results

This works best with a single word or phrase, but you can also specify that your term should appear in the Title only.

Scopus Search within results

Using the Limit to or Exclude options

Refine your results by e.g. language or type, choose these limits from the left-hand sidebar.
For example:

English Language
Scopus - Using limit to or exclude options example
Articles or reviews as Document Type
  • You can choose to Limit to or Exclude, but not a mixture of the two in any single action.

Make your search broader by:

  1. Following citation trails (time travel)

Editing your search strategy

Try including a wider range of search terms:

  • Have you found all the useful synonyms and alternative spellings?
  • Can you make any of your concepts broader in scope?
Scopus search with broader concepts