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Pharmacy 504 - Secondary Resources and Library Skills - September 2017

Scopus - Introduction

Scopus is a large, multidisciplinary database. There are a few things to keep in mind when searching Scopus.

  1. Scopus contains a large number of pharmacy practice journals, as well as abstracts from several of the pharmacy conferences like AACP and ASHP. However, because Scopus is such a large database, getting to the information you need can be tricky.
  2. Your search terms will not automatically map to any kind of controlled vocabulary, so you’ll have to be more thorough when you’re brainstorming for synonyms.  
  3. Scopus contains most of the articles that are in PubMed and Embase. However, because Scopus does not use controlled vocabulary searching (MeSH or Emtree), you still need to search Pubmed and/or Embase, because it's much easier to miss relevant articles in Scopus.
  4. Scopus is set up to search within a study's title, abstract, and keywords by default, but you can change these settings. 
  5. You can also truncate your search terms by using an asterisk, which will search for every word beginning with whatever letters you type in, so pharma* will search for pharmacy, pharmaceutical, pharmacist, etc.  

Searching Scopus

To get to Scopus, you’ll want to start again at the pharmacy guide. From there, you can find the link to Scopus in the list of top clinical resources.  


Scopus searching is more manual, so you’ll want to make sure you are including a number of synonyms and spelling variations for each term. For example, if you wanted to look for pharmd students’ attitudes toward Facebook use, you would want to be sure to search for pharmd OR pharmacy, then student OR students, then attitude OR attitudes OR opinion OR opinions, then social media OR facebook OR twitter OR tumblr OR Instagram.  

When searching Scopus for multi-word phrases, always use quotes around your phrase (e.g., search for "social media" not social media). Scopus adds an AND in between any two words that are not already connected by a Boolean operator, so if you do not use quotes around your phrase, your search results may be thrown off. 

Scopus - Combining Searches

Once you have put in all of your terms, you can combine them using your search history numbers listed at the bottom of the Scopus search page. To search for the terms in your first search AND your second search, you would type in #1 AND #2. To search for the terms in your first search OR your second search, you would type in #1 OR #2. To search for the terms in your first search but not the terms in your second search, you would type in #1 AND NOT #2. 

When combining searches in Scopus, you cannot use parentheses, which means you can't switch between AND, OR, and AND NOT. So, if you had three searches (Search #1, Search #2, and Search #3) and you wanted to search for articles in Search #1 AND articles in either Search #2 OR Search #3, you would need to search for #2 OR #3, then search for #1 AND #4.

Scopus - Filtering your Search

Scopus also contains search filters similar to those in PubMed and Embase. These filters are found along the left-hand side of your search results page and include options like:

  • Year of publication
  • Subject area
  • Document type
  • Language

Scopus - Related Articles Search

In addition to traditional search options, you can also use Scopus to view the articles that have cited an article you are interested or view the articles that an article you are interested in has cited. 

To view the articles that have cited your article of interest, click on the number of citations to the right of your article's information in the search results page.

To view the articles that your article has cited, click on the box to the left of your citation, then select the three dots that indicate more menu items and select "References."

Scopus - Summary and Help

When searching in Scopus, remember:

  1. Scopus does not map to controlled vocabulary, so search for as many synonyms for each of your terms as possible.
  2. Scopus automatically searches in the title, abstract, and keywords.
  3. Scopus contains most of the journals and articles that are in PubMed and Embase, but because it does not map to controlled vocabulary terms, it can be easy to miss relevant articles. 
  4. Use quotes when searching for phrases in Scopus.
  5. Once you have executed your search, review your search result each time to make sure they're pulling articles or studies that are of interest to you.
  6. If you would like more information on searching Scopus these are a few sources you can try:
    1. Tips on using Scopus from Des Moines University:​
    2. Scopus help section from Elsevier:
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