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Physics 498: Scholarly Communication in Physics: Physicists in the Library

How Physicists Use the Library

1.  To find a single definition, value, or property

  • Uses specialized dictionaries, handbooks, tables

2.  To begin work on a new topic

  • Reads authoritative and scholarly overviews of topics in encyclopedias or review articles
  • Develops list of keywords or subjects to search

3.  To find more literature on a topic

  • Follows cited references
  • Searches in library catalogs and research databases

4.  To find the most recent literature on a topic

  • Searches a Current Awareness Service like Inside Science, the Physics Today Daily Edition, or Physics: Spotlighting Exceptional Research.  Bibliographic databases used by Physicists include arXiv.org, Scitation, and Web of Science.

5.  To follow up earlier published research

  • To find out who has cited a particular piece of published research, scientists consult science citation indexes and librarians

6.  To find a particular work from a full reference

  • Searches in library catalogs 
  • Downloads full text from an online source or places a request with a library for an interlibrary loan

7.  To find a particular work from a partial or inaccurate reference

  • Problems arise from journal abbreviations, incomplete author names, incorrect titles, and incomplete citations.
  • Consults a reference librarian for assistance