How to use Scopus to prepare for a library job interview

As a University of Michigan student (not after April 30!) I’m lucky to have access to hundreds of incredibly powerful online resources such as Elsevier’s Scopus. I will show you how to use Scopus to research the scholarly output of a particular library, so that you can use that research to improve your performance at a job interview.

Scopus is probably my favorite literature searching database for the following reasons:

  • It indexes 42.5 million articles. All of MEDLINE is indexed. Most library journals are indexed. Any non-grey literature you could find indexed on Google Scholar, you will probably find indexed in Scopus.
  • Unlike Google Scholar, you have complete control over your search. Proximity searches, boolean, truncation, etc.
  • Citation indexing and analysis.
  • Affiliation searching in Scopus actually works.

That final feature will be the key to scoring points in the job interview. You need to be prepared to talk about their institution. Whether it’s a formal question during the “do you have any questions for us?” stage, or something you incorporate into conversation, knowing the institution will do wonders to demonstrate your preparation for and interest in the position.

How do other databases search Author Affiliation?

Proquest Research Library (via Proquest)

Proquest indexes Author Affiliation.


To search that field, type AUA(“organization”). I had to look it up in their Help section. It’s not an option in the record field drop down menu.


LISTA (via EbscoHost)

Ebsco also supports Author Affiliation.


But if you want to search Author Affiliation you’ll have to manually type in AF(“organization”), like so:ebsco+auth+afill+search.png

LISA (via CSA)

On the surface it appears that CSA indexes affiliation.csa+auth+affil.png

Unfortunately there’s no option to search that field. AF isn’t actuallly listed as a field on the LISA info page. What a shame.

Library Literature (via FirstSearch)

According to its corresponding DIALOG Blue Sheet, Library Literature doesn’t index Author Affiliation at all.

Affiliation searching in Scopus

Scopus has the best of all the above worlds: combined search history, an advanced search box, citation count, and most importantly, powerful Author Affiliation searching.

First you must access Scopus via your library website. If you’re at the University of Michigan, click here. For others, you might also be able to access Scopus directly if you’re within your campus network by going to

Click the Affiliation search tab and enter the institution of your choice.scopus-affil.PNG

Select every variant of your institution and click Show documents.


108,780 articles written by U of M affiliated authors.scopus-doc-edit.PNG

Since I’m interesting in library positions, I’ll filter those results down to articles with the base word “library” in the title, abstract or index terms.


I’m also filtering out results that Scopus doesn’t consider to be social science. This will eliminate the dozens of scientific articles that discuss genomic libraries.


143 results, sorted by citation count. You get a sense of the highest impact U of M articles that write about libraries.


However as you examine the results, you’ll see that many of them are not actually written by librarians, like this article from the School of Education.scopus-art-edu.PNG

By searching within the results to ensure the word “library” appears in the Affiliation field, we’ve cut the number of results by almost half, from 143 to 73.scopus-affil-narrow.PNG

Only 74 articles produced by U of M librarians since 1823? Indexing isn’t perfect. Perhaps many articles don’t include “library” in the affiliation field.

I’m only scratching the surface on what is possible. If you’re applying to a subject liaison position, you could add keywords from your discipline to an abstract search. If you’re applying to a position at the U of M Taubman Health Sciences Library where I currently work, you could search the affiliation or abstract fields with the words “taubman” or “health sciences” or “medical.”

Once you’ve identified and read relevant literature, download the PDFs and save it to your e-reader, iPad or print them out and read them.



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