The Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics Librarian

Dr. Henrik Spoon

Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics Librarian

Physical Sciences Library
293 Clark Hall

Mathematics Library
420-B Malott Hall


Web Of Science: search engine that includes physics

To find journal articles in the field of physics the best search engine is the Web Of Science, which contains references going back to the year 1900.

  • To search by author name: click on the tab 'researchers' at the top of the search window. To find papers by Albert Einstein, search for last name Einstein and initial A. Then pick the correct A. Einstein from the list of 10+ authors.
  • To search by keyword or key phrase: click on the tab 'documents' at the top of the search window. To find papers with "fire and ice" in their title put this key phrase within quotes in the search box on the right while choosing the default search method 'all fields' on the left.

Once the search results are returned, they can be further refined by using any of the criteria listed in the left sidebar.

The search results can also be reordered. For instance: you can sort by reverse date, or by 'times cited' (citation count).

For more advanced search options, go here:

If your university does not subscribe to Web Of Science, try Google Scholar

Finding the latest research: arXiv

Almost every physicist wants to get his/her results disseminated as quickly as possible. Some even seek comments or input on draft versions of their manuscript ! The ideal platform for all of  this is the preprint server arXiv, which is freely accessible to all. arXiv was created by Paul Ginsparg at Los Alamos in 1992. The first arXiv server fitted under a desk. With 35 million monthly downloads in 2022, the current server takes up slightly more room ;-)

The number of daily submissions to arXiv in the field of physics is staggering: >210 per day in 2021! This is why physics is subdivided into subfields. These are listed on arXiv's main page. To search preprints in 'physics' go here:

To receive a daily mailing of newly submitted articles in PHYS or one of its subfields, please follow the instructions posted here:

To narrow down the number of new articles to peruse even further, or to catch up with submissions earlier in the week, consider using an arXiv scraper.

If your home institute does not have subscriptions to some of the physics journals, chances are high that you can find the preprint of an article you are looking for in arXiv. In most cases the content is exactly the same minus some cosmetic changes.

Finding inroads into a new field of research

How do you make inroads into a new field of physics research?

Find relevant journal articles:

  1. Ask your advisor to suggest journal articles to read. Or:
  2. Find a good 'review' article. Browse the Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics, Annual Review of Materials Research, Annual Review of Biophysics, Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science, or Annual Review of Physical Chemistry for a relevant keyword like 'nuclear collisions', 'CMB', or 'gravitational waves', etcetera. Read the abstracts of the most recent articles that come up to find the review that best matches the topic of your research. Review articles are meant to give an unbiased view of the field of research, and are loaded with references to explore. Or:
  3. Do a Web Of Science search on a keyword or key phrase of your choice to find relevant articles. Then sort the search results by 'citation count' to find the most important articles. Read the titles and abstracts of these articles to find the best matches to your interests.

Read the introduction section of the articles you selected. This is where the authors lay out what is known about the topic of their research before their research was done. It is a great way to find other relevant articles to read.