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Database Guides: BIOSIS Citation Index

Information about using the various databases in the A-Z Online Resources,


What is it?

Most comprehensive coverage of the biological and biomedical literature. Includes journal articles, review articles, monographs and conference proceedings. See journals currently indexed for further detail. Equivalent to Biological abstracts and Biological abstracts/RRM (Reports, Reviews and Meetings). This covers publications from 1926 onwards.

What is it for?

Use BIOSIS Citation Index to find publications on anything to do with biology or biomedicine.

How to access it

Login to the Portal and then choose BIOSIS Citation Index from the A-Z List of online resources.

How to search

You are automatically placed in the Basic Search screen so you can carry out a Topic, Author search, etc.  To select a different type of search, for example a Cited Reference Search, choose the down arrow next to Basic Search above the Search box.


From the Basic Search screen select the type of search you wish to conduct from the drop-down box
e.g. Use the TOPIC box to carry out subject keyword searching.

AND searches (to narrow the search), e.g., aquaculture AND pollution

OR searches (to broaden the search), e.g., vaccination OR immunisation

PHRASE search will find 2 or more words coming together in that order - need to use " " (quotation marks), e.g., "bovine spongiform encephalopathy "

Truncation: Use $ (dollar) to search for plurals eg., gene$ will find gene or genes but not genetic or general. use $ (dollar) within a word eg., colo$r will find color or colou
Use * at the end of a word to find all words beginning with those letters, eg., vaccin* will find vaccine, vaccines, vaccination, vaccinate, etc.,

Species search: To find information on a particular species, use the Taxonomic Data search: e.g. to find information on salmon, type the systematic name - "salmo salar" in the search box. NB Remember to use quotation marks as it is a phrase search.

Combining Searches: Click on the Search History button from the top toolbar. (or click on the link >> View your search history/combine sets). This takes you to a page which lists the searches you have conducted during the current session.  Combine sets together by marking the appropriate set numbers and selecting either AND or OR, then click on Combine.

Refining Results: Use the Refine Results section at the left hand side of the results screen to refine your search. For example: 

Refine by Research Areas:  Use Research Areas to refine your results to specific fields of study.  Research Area terms are article-based and so will match the subject of the article. The terms are added to each record by Thomson Reuters staff - see the full-list of Web of Science Research Areas.

Refine by Literature Type: the Literature Type option allows you to refine your results by different types of literature - particularly useful is the option for 'Literature Review'; these are review articles that provide a summary article covering a research topic.

Refine by Countries/Territories: Note the refine by Countries/Territories search is using the countries/territories of the authors' affiliations. That is, articles are refined by where the authors' institutions are located rather than the places discussed within the articles.


BIOSIS Citation Index is a very structured database and you can improve your search by using the different searches available. 

Major Concepts search: Major Concepts are terms used to index broad topics discussed in the documents.  Use this search for broad subject searching.


Taxonomic Data search: use for a species search: use the Latin systematic name and search within quotation marks to search for the phrase, for example: "salmo salar".  The Taxonomic Data search also searches Taxa Notes (described above), Super Taxa (high-level Taxonomic terms that refer to broad categories of organisms, including microorganisms) and the Biosystematic index (taxonomic groups above the genus level).


Taxa Notes search: Taxa Notes are very large groupings of taxonomically related organisms, that allow ease of searching.  For example, Fish or Humans. Use this search for broad groupings of animals.


CITED REFERENCE SEARCH: Citation searching allows you to find articles that have quoted a given article in their bibliography. This type of search needs to be done using all the years of the database- choose the down arrow next to Basic Search above the Search box and choose Cited Reference Search. Make sure the Citation Index you want to search and all the years are selected.

Then enter the author’s name in the Cited Author box in the form: beveridge m* - the author’s last name is entered first and you can use truncation, if you do not know all of the author’s initials. Then put in the year that the article was written in the Cited year box: e.g. 1985. It is advisable to leave the other boxes blank as authors are sometimes inconsistent and inaccurate in their citations. Click on the Search button.

The cited references found appear on the next screen. To see all the authors who cited the article you are interested in you will need to select the check box(es) and then click on the Finish Search>> button. The next screen will have a list of all the articles that cite your selected reference.


Full text?

Click on the Full-Text button that displays under each record - then choose the Find@Stir button Find@Stir button, which provides links to the full text of the journal if available, or to the library catalogue, to check if we have the item in paper format.


Records can be downloaded into RefWorks (a software product for managing references and formatting bibliographies).

Further help

For help, click on the Help option in the top right handside of the Web of Science screens.

Marking records for printing and downloading

Results are displayed in summary format, up to ten items are displayed per page. To go to another page of results, click the navigation arrows or type a page number.

To see the full record of an item in the results listing, click on the record title.

BIOSIS results: You can mark items from the results listing screen by selecting the checkbox next to record(s) and then selecting Add to Marked List at the top right hand side of the records listing. Then select Marked List on the far right hand side of the grey menu bar above the results.  From the Marked List screen you can choose to print, email or output your records to bibliographic management software (such as RefWorks): choose the Print or Email icons or choose your bibliographic software in the Send to drop down menu.

BIOSIS video: Using Major Concepts and Taxa Notes

BIOSIS video: Using Major Concepts, Taxonomic Data (for species search) and Taxa Notes. Refining results

Link to BIOSIS