I would like to find out the total number of publications in the Web of Science. (Actually, I'm interested in certain subcategories over time, but not restricted by word content at all. The categories and years can be accessed after doing the primary search).

What is the most general possible matching string / syntax?

My best idea so far is using


in the advanced search. This is obviously not perfect. I tried to combine something like x OR NOT x but those get rejected.

There is a related question here: Global number of publications over time to which one could give more up to date data based on this question.

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    Ask your librarian whether there's a better way to do this? (Ideally, you would like to run a database query that only counts and doesn't go to the trouble of retrieving all of the bibliographic information!)
    – Ben Bolker
    Jan 5, 2022 at 0:35

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't recommend using search to dump all of someone's database. This can easily be considered rude or abusive behavior.

Maybe not as serious as the example I'm about to give, but as a thought experiment I'm thinking about how printing at schools I attended pre-university was free of charge. I'd expect no trouble to photocopy a few pages for an essay I was writing (that's the intended use), but I'd expect to be in big trouble if I printed out whole books of every source I included in my paper due to the ink and paper costs (copyright issues aside).

You could contact the administrators to try to obtain this information another way, but please don't abuse search functions on websites or try to bypass limits placed on search.

  • This is not useful. It is premised on false suppositions about my intent and about what is possible, and is irrelevant to the question. Dumping the search result is neither possible (as far as I know) nor asked for. I am simply trying to count by category, which is part of that for which my University is paying great money to Web of Science.
    – CPBL
    Jan 5, 2022 at 0:47
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    @CPBL - your university also pays for wonderful research librarians who know how to get the most amazing information quickly and easily…
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 5, 2022 at 1:09
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    @CPBL I'm not assuming anything of your intentions except that you want to perform a search that returns something from all rows of the (very large) database you are searching. There are going to be much easier ways to do this than with the functions made available to you for other purposes.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 5, 2022 at 1:40

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