The CNRS has unsubscribed from the Scopus publications database


The CNRS committed to open science several years ago and of course this includes publication databases for which sustainable open solutions need to be found. The organisation has taken an important step forward as regards this commitment with our decision to unsubscribe from Elsevier's Scopus bibliographic database on December 31st 2023. In fact the CNRS will stop using commercial bibliographic databases altogether as soon as open solutions are sufficiently mature. In the meantime the institution is continuing to subscribe to Clarivate Analytics' Web of Science.

The CNRS has an ambitious open science policy (French link) aimed at opening up scientific publications, sharing and reusing data (French link), rethinking research assessment (French link) and developing text and data mining methods and open source software. The drive towards CNRS researchers reappropriating the results of their own work and making science accessible to the whole of society is clearly an issue of considerable importance.

Unsubscribing from the Scopus bibliographic database1 is the first stage of the process of freeing the CNRS from commercial databases and gradually switching to free bibliographic tools that are more in line with its open science policy. The savings made on this subscription will enable the CNRS to support and consolidate sustainable open solutions.

The CNRS took this decision jointly with representatives of our Institutes. Usage statistics show that CNRS researchers use the Web of Science a lot more frequently than Scopus so the WOS subscription will be maintained during this transition to new free bibliometric tools. Other tools are available like OpenAlex, Crossref and Dimensions. Furthermore, the HAL open archive is a complementary resource that references French scientific production accessible to all.

The CNRS's decision is in line with the international vision underpinning the announcement by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies in Leiden that it is launching a transparent reproducible version of its world ranking of universities in 2024. This ranking will be based on bibliometric indicators derived from open data on CrossRef and OpenAlex. NASA is also launching the NASA Science Explorer bibliographic portal. This new portal covers all of NASA's research fields – Earth sciences, physics, astrophysics, heliophysics, biology and planetology - and complies with the FAIR principles2 to ensure data (French link) is easily to access, understand, exchange and reuse.


  • 1The Scopus bibliographic database is a fee-based catalogue that references and describes a list of scientific publications (authors, affiliations, identifiers, keywords, etc.).
  • 2FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable.