New Web of Science categories reflect ever-evolving research

The world of research never stands still. As new areas of inquiry arise and branch off in novel directions, established fields undergo transformation that might entail robust growth or stagnation.

These ever-evolving shifts present researchers with a challenge to easily find the research relevant to their needs and determine how it connects to other discoveries.

For the editors who work on the Web of Science, this state of flux is expected and routine. In fact, their activities are entirely centered on maintaining and updating the database to reflect the ceaseless progression of research and scholarship. And the unique way in which Web of Science indexes and connects research via the citation network ensures that researchers can explore new fields and see what earlier research influenced and continues to impact evolving fields.


These ongoing curation efforts are imperative to ensure that existing categories are still relevant to researchers and, in particular, that categories accommodate new specialty areas.”


For Web of Science editors, the challenge begins with the continuous process of evaluating, selecting, and curating the journals and other sources covered in the Web of Science Core Collection. The other critical task they face is to monitor and manage the subject category scheme by which the journals are organized. This effort is essential to maintaining a logical content relationship within the category, making sure that the subject matter, as well as the field’s predominant citation patterns, can be equitably and meaningfully evaluated.

These ongoing curation efforts are imperative to ensure that existing categories are still relevant to researchers and, in particular, that categories accommodate new specialty areas. The latest result of this editorial curation and oversight is the introduction in 2019 of three new subject categories to the 252 existing categories in the Web of Science Core Collection.


Quantum leap

An entirely new category in the Science Citation Index – Expanded (SCI-Expanded) database within the Web of Science Core Collection reflects the widening investigation and application of quantum phenomena. This area concerns the complex interaction of waves, particles, and states of matter that do not conform to the laws of classical physics.

The new category, Quantum Science & Technology, addresses the expansion of quantum-related research beyond physics into optics, mechanics, chemistry, electronics, information, materials and computing. By collating 20 journals that examine various aspects of quantum phenomena – including Classical and Quantum Gravity, International Journal of Quantum Information, Optical and Quantum Electronics and Quantum Topology – the category will serve as a sharply focused resource for the scientists exploring these many sub-disciplines.


A well-planned division

The other two new categories result from the division of an existing category in the Social Sciences Citation Index component of the Web of Science Core Collection.

Although the category Planning and Development had served for many years, Web of Science editors undertook their customary analysis of the content, scope, and citation patterns within the category’s journals. They determined that the discipline of development studies had grown sufficiently large and distinct from planning studies to merit its own category. This finding was underscored by requests for a separate category from research groups involved in development studies – feedback that the editors took to heart.

Thus, 2019 will see new, separate categories. One is Development Studies, concerned with the economic and social development of both underdeveloped and industrialized areas. Resources in this category focus on economic forecasting and analysis, policy making and strategy, poverty reduction, and the growth of emerging countries.

The other category is Regional & Urban Planning, covering resources dealing with the development and use of land, technology and infrastructure in urban, suburban and rural areas. Sources in this category examine theories of planning, policy making, design and implementation, along with resource development.

At present, 45 journals will constitute the Development Studies category, while 39 titles will be covered in Regional & Urban Planning. Editors have deemed eight journals suitable for both categories; many of these titles deal with the relatively new discipline of sustainable development.

Quantum Science & Technology, Development Studies, and Regional & Urban Planning will be available in InCites Benchmarking and Analytics with the February data refresh. Users can use the existing Research Area filters to analyze these new categories in all contexts.

The Planning and Development category will no longer be available in InCites.  Existing saved tiles with this category will not display any data. We will publish a comment in Help and encourage users to update their tiles to use either Development Studies or Regional & Urban Planning categories instead.

This new trio of categories represents only the latest step in the constant process of updating and deepening the Web of Science coverage and connections.  Ensuring researchers the most current and confident view of the research landscape, so they can easily discover, access and assess the world’s best literature.


To learn more, visit the Clarivate Analytics Master Journal List.