Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have access to some API resources, but others are returning "unauthorized" or "insufficient privileges" responses. Can this be fixed?

A: Your API key has default settings; access to some APIs and service levels is enabled by default, while access to others can be enabled manually but require further permissions from Elsevier. Attempts to access features not enabled by default will result in such error responses.

In addition, the data available depends on your institutional subscriptions, and only when you're making calls from within your institutional network are you considered a subscriber. If you attempt to access a subscriber-only feature from home, you're likely to receive such an error response.

If you require access to additional API resources, please contact us as described in the 'Attention Subscribers' section on the default API key settings page.


Q: How can I obtain a list of articles (cited-by list) that cite the articles of interest to me?

A: The Scopus Search API supports this functionality, but Elsevier limits access only to subscribers and only for specific use cases. If you require use of this feature, please contact us as described in the 'Attention Subscribers' section on the default API key settings page.

A common misconception is that the Citation Overview API provides this functionality. However, this API supplies only article citation values, with or without self-citations, broken down by year. It does not enable you to extract a list of articles that produce those values.


Q: I found authors with multiple author IDs. Can this be fixed?

A: The creation of both author and affiliation profiles is an automated process performed by complex algorithms during content processing. The original data is sourced from thousands of publishers and contains numerous flaws due to translations between languages, differences in naming conventions, varied publishing and data standards, etc. When matching documents to existing profiles, the algorithm takes a conserative approach to avoid misattribution, occasionally resulting in the creation of a new author profile for an existing author. This is a superior approach as it's far easier to analyze and correct duplicate profiles than incorrectly merged profiles.

To address the problem of duplicate profiles, Scopus created Profile Wizards that allow authors and affiliations to correct their profiles directly through the Scopus web interface. The API team isn't involved in the process, but when the corrections are made in the Scopus database, they're immediately reflected in the API response data.


Q: How can I obtain more than 5,000 / 6,000 results through Scopus / ScienceDirect APIs?

A: The number of results that can be retrieved through the ScienceDirect Query API is 6,000. This limitation is not specific to any API key or client; it's an artifact of the back end search technology that is used for this API.

For Scopus subscribers, this restriction no longer applies to the Scopus Search API.

Example: Your Scopus query TITLE-ABS-KEY(mars) returns 38,000+ document results:

<opensearch:totalResults>38557</opensearch:totalResults>

<opensearch:startIndex>0</opensearch:startIndex>

<opensearch:itemsPerPage>25</opensearch:itemsPerPage>

<opensearch:Query role="request" searchTerms="TITLE-ABS-KEY(mars)" startPage="0"/>
	
...

To iterate through all 38,000 results, one must use the cursor parameter documented in the Scopus Search API specifications.

The initial search must contain a "*" value for the cursor parameter. For example:

https://api.elsevier.com/content/search/scopus?query=title-abs-key(mars)&cursor=*&count=25

The response to the above API request contains the first 25 records of the full search result set, along with another cursor value next that will return the next 25 results. Example:

<cursor current="*" next="AoNdhv5MCEEU%2BioyMi1zMi4wLTg1MDQ2NzkyNTg0"/>

In addition, the response also contains a URL-formatted link to the next 25 results using the above cursor value. Example:

<link ref="next" href="https://api.elsevier.com/content/search/scopus?cursor=AoNdhv5MCEEU%2BioyMi1zMi4wLTg1MDQ2NzkyNTg0&count=25&query=title-abs-key%28mars%29l" type="application/xml"/>

By using the "next" cursor value or URL link, one can retrieve the next 25 results. The process can be repeated until the entire 38,000 results have been retrieved.


Q: What is the difference between ScienceDirect and Scopus Data?

A: ScienceDirect and Scopus use two different databases.

Details: Scopus indexes -- with some exceptions -- nearly the entire ScienceDirect database but without articles' full text. Scopus builds the profiles and metrics using that data.
Note that ScienceDirect cannot be searched using Scopus-native identifiers like AF-ID, Scopus ID, etc.

For more information about our content, you can visit the content sections of the Scopus and ScienceDirect product sites: