Characterization, description, and considerations for the use of funding acknowledgement data in Web of Science


Funding acknowledgements found in scientific publications have been used to study the impact of funding on research since the 1970s. However, no broad scale indexation of that paratextual element was done until 2008, when Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science started to add funding acknowledgement information to its bibliographic records. As this new information provides a new dimension to bibliometric data that can be systematically exploited, it is important to understand the characteristics of these data and the underlying implications for their use. This paper analyses the presence and distribution of funding acknowledgement data covered in Web of Science. Our results show that prior to 2009 funding acknowledgements coverage is extremely low and therefore not reliable. Since 2008, funding information has been collected mainly for publications indexed in the Science Citation Index Expanded; more recently (2015), inclusion of funding texts for publications indexed in the Social Science Citation Index has been implemented. Arts & Humanities Citation Index content is not indexed for funding acknowledgement data. Moreover, English-language publications are the most reliably covered. Finally, not all types of documents are equally covered for funding information indexation and only articles and reviews show consistent coverage. The characterization of the funding acknowledgement information collected by Thomson Reuters can therefore help understand the possibilities offered by the data but also their limitations.

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  1. 1.

    Multilingual papers were considered as ‘English-language papers’ if English was among the languages listed for the paper.

  2. 2.

    After the submission of this paper and during the review process, we became aware of another, as-of-yet unpublished study made available through the repository and addressing the same topic but with important variations in the analysis: cf. Tang et al. (2016).

  3. 3.

    This is an internal guideline policy document. Thomson Reuters indicated to us that they intend to update their website to include these guidelines (Mathilda Edmunds, Director of Content Management, personal communication). In the meantime, interested researchers are invited to contact Thomson Reuters directly for further information.


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This research was conducted while Rodrigo Costas was a visiting scholar at the Canada Research Chair on the Transformations of Scholarly Communication (CRCTSC-Université de Montréal), supported by the Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS-Leiden University) and by funding from the South African DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and STI Policy (SciSTIP). The study was further supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec—Société et culture (FRQSC). The authors also thank Mathilda Edmunds and Deepti Chikkam from Thomson Reuters for discussions about their internal documentation and for their input in the interpretation of the results. Finally, they wish to thank María Bordons from the CCHS-CSIC for her insight on funding acknowledgement data and Philippe Mongeon from EBSI (Université de Montréal) for his input on database analysis.


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Correspondence to Adèle Paul-Hus.



See Table 3.

Table 3 Breakdown of publications with FT by document type and across databases

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Paul-Hus, A., Desrochers, N. & Costas, R. Characterization, description, and considerations for the use of funding acknowledgement data in Web of Science. Scientometrics 108, 167–182 (2016).

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  • Funding acknowledgements
  • Web of Science
  • Bibliometrics