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Using Web of Science to Find Highly Cited Articles

This tutorial will show you how to find highly cited articles in Web of Science, a library database.

Use the right arrow at the bottom of this window to move through the tutorial.


When you’re doing a literature review, or trying to familiarize yourself with the most important articles in a research area, you need to find the seminal works in that field of study.

What is a seminal work?

One way to identify seminal works is to find out how many times other scholars have cited a publication in their own research articles. Generally speaking, when a work is highly cited, it is regarded as an important, or seminal publication.

Use the active webpage on your right to complete the tutorial.

Accessing Web of Science

Web of Science, a popular library database, can help you find seminal articles.

Web of Science Logo

Access Web of Science from the library’s homepage:

  • Click on the Databases tab in the search box on the library’s homepage.

Databases tab on library homepage

  • Cut and paste or type in Web of Science.
  • Click Go.
  • Scroll down, and click the link to Web of Science.

Web of Science link and description

Key Word Searching in Web of Science

  • Enter your terms (keywords) in the search boxes.

What are keywords?

  • Example: sleep AND memory (or use terms for your topic)
  • Be sure to select Topic for each keyword search from the drop-down menu(s) on the right.

arrow pointing to Topic drop-down menu

  • Click Search.
  • Articles in the results list are sorted by date, newest to oldest.

Re-sorting Results by Times Cited

  • Re-sort the list to find the articles with the highest number of citations using the Sort by feature above the search results in the middle of the page.)

Sort by feature

  • Sort by: Times Cited -- highest to lowest

Web of Science Sorting

  • The results list is now ranked by the number of times the articles have been cited, with the article with the highest number of times cited at the top.
  • The number next to Times Cited links to all of the citing articles.

Web of Science Times Cited

Additional tip:

  • Click on the title of a highly cited article.
  • Notice the author(s) names are active links.
  • Click on an author's name to see other publications by this scholar.

Use UC-eLinks for Full-Text

There are two possible ways to obtain an article when you use UC-eLinks.

  • Click on the UC-eLinks button to get the full text of the article. UC-eLinks image

NOTE: When you click UC-eLinks, the page will open in a new tab or window, and you won't see the tutorial in the left sidebar. Clicking the tutorial tab will bring you back to the tutorial.

What is UC-eLinks?

  • For some articles, clicking on UC-eLinks will take you to a page where you can request the article through Interlibrary Loan.

What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

Evaluating Seminal Articles

Using Web of Science to identify highly cited articles is only the first step in finding seminal works in your field of study. Critical reading of the work should also be a part of evaluating the importance of any publication.

VPN Reminder

REMINDER: You must be on the UC Merced campus or connected to the campus network with the VPN to access the full-text of articles as demonstrated in this tutorial.

What is the VPN?


This concludes the Using Web of Science to Find Highly Cited Articles tutorial. Now that you’ve finished:

  • Complete the short 2-question quiz on the next page.
  • Enter your email and your professor’s email when prompted.
  • Send the email.
  • Print your quiz results if desired.
  • Let us know what you think about the tutorial by clicking on the feedback link (What did you think of this tutorial?).

Thank you!

Questions? Contact the library at library@ucmerced.edu or 209.228.4444.



A seminal work is one that:

Which feature in Web of Science allows you to rank articles in a results list by the number of times they have been cited?


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