Finding Citations to Social Work Literature: The Relative Benefits of Using Web of Science, Scopus, or Google Scholar
Past studies of citation coverage of Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar do not demonstrate a consistent pattern that can be applied to the interdisciplinary mix of resources used in social work research. To determine the utility of these tools to social work researchers, an analysis of citing references to well-known social work journals was conducted. Web of Science had the fewest citing references and almost no variety in source format. Scopus provided higher citation counts, but the pattern of coverage was similar to Web of Science. Google Scholar provided substantially more citing references, but only a relatively small percentage of them were unique scholarly journal articles. The patterns of database coverage were replicated when the citations were broken out for each journal separately. The results of this analysis demonstrate the need to determine what resources constitute scholarly research and reflect the need for future researchers to consider the merits of each database before undertaking their research. This study will be of interest to scholars in library and information science as well as social work, as it facilitates a greater understanding of the strengths and limitations of each database and brings to light important considerations for conducting future research.