Selecting a Database for Drug Literature Retrieval: A Comparison of MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science
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Three widely used databases—MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science—were compared for their relative ability to retrieve the largest number of articles within the drug literature, using three search terms: two for specific drugs (atorvastatin and olanzapine) and one for a major class of drugs (statins). These drugs and the class of drugs were chosen for their longevity and continued high clinical and scientific interest, as indicated by the many articles concerning them published in scholarly and professional journals over the last two decades. Significant differences were observed in the journal coverage and the number of documents each database retrieved, with Scopus significantly outperforming the other two databases in these respects. Based on the results from this limited but by no means atypical study of comparative strengths and degree of coverage, the best option for retrieving the largest numbers of articles on a particular drug in the literature would be to use both Scopus and Web of Science, as these two databases complement each other with respect to the journal coverage. MEDLINE retrieved much smaller numbers of documents in all searches and should be used only when the other two databases are not available.
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