Introduction to Physics Research (Physics 706/806)
"Using the UNH Library for Physics Research"
Emily Poworoznek, Engineering & Physical Sciences Librarian
Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire
-- email: el(at)unh.edu
UNH Library resources and beyond (discussion)
The URL for this Web outline is:
UNH Library resources (practice)
You will have guided hands-on practice with databases and Boolean search techniques.
This session will be held in DeMeritt 311.
I. Where does your information come from (and why does it matter)?
A. UNPUBLISHED (personal communications, your notes, expert testimony, correspondence)
Formal (through a publisher) or informal
1. Published material? (can be anything from an individual's website or blog to a peer-reviewed original research paper published in an established journal. Look for authority and objectivity. Formally published material is generally better organized, more permanent, and more authoritative than informally published material (such as an individual's website).
a) Primary sources -- original material
Examples in science: research articles in journals or conference proceedings; research reports (government or corporate research); original books or treatises
b) Secondary sources -- the content is one step removed from being primary. It's compiled from primary sources and often other secondary sources.
Examples: textbooks, review articles in journals, newspaper stories based on previous reports, encyclopedias (can be secondary or tertiary)
c) What is peer review?
Not peer pressure! Rather, it's like a jury of your peers.
When a journal article is "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" it means that professional specialists -- in the same field -- have read and judged the article before publication. Reviewers may recommend changes or additions, as well as making a recommendation as to whether the article should be accepted for publication or rejected. Reviewers are usually anonymous and volunteer to review articles as a service to the profession-- they are not compensated for this work.
Examples: Research journal articles are usually peer-reviewed (example: Physical Review Letters). Conference papers may be peer-reviewed; reports rarely are. Many federal agencies have competitive grant proposal processes that use peer review to evaluate and select the research projects to be funded. Some professional magazines carry a mix of editorials, letters, and peer-reviewed articles (Physics Today). Most trade and popular magazines are not peer-reviewed (Optics & Photonics News, Time).
d) How can I tell if a journal IS peer-reviewed?
-- check the journal home page ("About", "Aims and Scope" or "Information for Authors") or Ulrich's, a directory of periodicals (UNH has online access).
C. Cite your sources
1. What do I have to cite?
All sources of information that you use in large part, paraphrase, or quote, or re-draw, whether published or unpublished.
2. How do I cite it?
Your instructor may prefer a specific style of citation. Each journal or publisher has its own prescribed style for authors to follow. The Library also has many general guides about citing sources, including Kate Turabian's Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, the Chicago Manual of Style and Xia Li's Electronic Styles.
UNH Library web site
Selected Physics and Astronomy e-Resources
UNH Library master list of databases
Database searching comparison sheet
Finding and using library resources:
II. Resources for astronomy, astrophysics, and physics literature searches -- save time by using trusted, authoritative sources
A. For basic information, use published books (texts, manuals, reference sources such as data compiled in handbooks, standards).
Example: data such as physical or electronic properties can be found in printed handbooks or trusted online sources. To find all of the physics handbooks that we have, whether online or print, check the Library Catalog by keyword or ask the Physics Library Associate or Librarian.
B. For current and specialized information, use indexes to find journal articles on your topic. Examples include:
Journal articles and conference papers: The written record of science. Some journals and conference proceedings are accessible
online (by subscription or open access); others may be available only in print.
In the Library catalog, you can look up the title of a journal or do a keyword search for a
conference name. However, the titles and authors of articles or papers are NOT in the catalog. Instead, use
indexes and abstracts to look up articles by keywords, authors, article titles, and more. These days,
the ones used most often are online bibliographic databases.
Bibliographic Databases: Depending on scope, these may index journal and conference articles, conference proceedings, reports, dissertations, and even some books.
For earlier published material, you may need to use printed indexes. At UNH, we have the major online index for Physics, INSPEC, back through 1969. You will need to include Scientific Abstracts/Physics Abstracts in print for a full, systematic search of Physics articles published prior to 1969. However, for just Astrophysics, most people will just use ADS online.
ADS -- Astrophysics Data System
-- Produced by NASA; overlaps to some extent with INSPEC but many unique references and links. Open access.
-- includes physics and astrophysics, electrical and electronics engineering, computers and controls, IT; starts with 1969. Has "Find it @ UNH" links. Includes chemical, numerical and other limits. In printed form: Science Abstracts extends back to 1898. UNH Library subscribes.
Web of Science (Science Citation Index)
--General & cited reference searching, starts with 1956. Has "Find it @ UNH" links. UNH Library subscribes.
See list of Selected Physics and Astronomy e-Resources or the UNH Library master list of databases for more databases.
Other databases for Physics and Space Science include: ARIBIB (astronomy), INIS (nuclear), SPIN Web (physics in general, includes better coverage for physics education) and of course arXiv (www.arXiv.org) and SPIRES-HEP (http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/), which index and include pre-prints as well as final versions of articles. You can find links to all of these on the Physics list above.
For related areas:
Chemistry literature: SciFinder Scholar
Engineering literature: COMPENDEX and INSPEC; IEEE Xplore
Math literature: MathSciNet
Statistics: Current Index to Statistics
Computer Science: ACM Digital Library
Computer applications: Safari Tech Books Online
Imaging: SPIE Digital Library
Dissertations: Dissertation Abstracts (Digital Dissertations)
Finding books and journals:
Often, you need to find books, which provide more background than journal or conference articles. All materials owned by or accessible through the UNH Library are listed in the Catalog, including books, journals, AND databases.
UNH Library catalog
--two versions of the catalog: Encore (more Googley) and Classic (more precise)
--search by journal title, book title, author, subject, keyword, etc. (NOT article title)
--make requests for items from Storage, other locations, or for materials that are checked out (can also use BLC Catalog to request check-out items)
Material listed in the catalog shows bibliographic information plus the Location, Call Number, and Status at the Library, except for online material. For online material, there is a link to connect.
Example: search for alley craft. Among other things, this will retrieve several books by Michael Alley with the word ""craft" in the title.
If a book is checked out, use the Request feature to have it recalled and put on Hold for you. Or, borrow it via the BLC Catalog (see below).
On library shelves, books are organized by location and call number; journals are in order by title in the branch libraries or by call number at Dimond Library.
Library of Congress call number system: Outline
How to get material the UNH Library does not own:
Any time that you are not sure whether the Library owns an item, please ask.
If the Library doesn't own material that you need, you can usually get it through the following Library services, at no charge.
Boston Library Consortium (BLC) Catalog -- search and request books; you can get them in 4 days from member libraries in the region (search by title, author, subject, ISBN)
Interlibrary Loan: borrow books and media; get articles from conference proceedings or journals
Infotrieve (for grad students & faculty): journal article ordering; Table-of-Contents email alerts
You can get to all of these sites from menus on the UNH Library home page and the If We Don't Have It page
Evaluate open access information critically
Cite all of your sources, no matter whether they are online, print, etc. Save, email, copy-and-paste or jot down the information as you search. Include the URL and date accessed for Web sites.
A frequently-recommended guide for science writing:
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, by Kate Turabian,
available at the
Citation example for a web site:
UNH Physics Library.
University of New Hampshire; last updated 28 February 2010.
accessed 1 March 2010.
How to get more help:
Your professors, your librarian (me) at email@example.com or 862-4168, or Heather Gagnon at the Physics Library, 862-2348.
Comments or questions to Emily Poworoznek, UNH Engineering and Physical Sciences Librarian (please modify with @ symbol and no parentheses): el(at)cisunix.unh.edu or 862-4168