Physics Online Information Resources

A brief overview of most useful resources for physics research online:

INSPEC

Most complete physics resource. Over 13 million records, international in scope, in all fields of physics, materials science, computer science, and engineering.
PROS:
• Much greater historical backlog (starting 1898)
• Coverage much broader than arXiv
• Coverage contains published works not found in GS
CONS:
• Basic searching not as “smart” as Google Search

Google Scholar

This service can be used to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. It has the fastest, simplest interface.
PROS:
• Fewer clicks
• Very smart, very flexible unstructured searching (you can copy and pasted citations into the search box)
• Shows multiple versions of each article in multiple publications (when available)
• Includes non-peer-reviewed publications (including the arXiv)
• Includes Google Books (some full text)
CONS:
• Less comprehensive than Inspec, especially for older materials

ADS (SMITHSONIAN/NASA ASTROPHYSICS DATA SYSTEM)

A Digital Library portal for research in Astronomy and Physics.
PROS:
• Highly customizable searching
• Broad coverage of physics topics
• Searches all of arXiv
CONS:
• May not include all the materials covered by Inspec

WEB OF SCIENCE (SCIENCE CITATION INDEX EXPANDED)

Indexes major journals in science disciplines.
PROS:
• Very good cited literature search features
• Goes back to 1900
CONS:
• Does not have the depth of coverage of INSPEC or ADS

ARXIV

Cutting-edge preprint server for many (but not all) major physics fields. HOW TO GET TO IT
PROS:
• Most up-to-date resource
• Preprints
• Always full text
• Always free
• Shows today’s papers
CONS:
• No peer review
• Quality control issues
• Not all subfields upload regularly to the arXiv

INSPIRE

High-Energy Physics Literature Database.
PROS:
• Very good search and citation statistics features
CONS:
• Limited to HEP subjects

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS

Primary journal resource for pedagogical and student-friendly physics articles.
PROS:
• Papers are highly readable.
• Good for quickly getting background and context in a new topic
• Good for coursework and teaching materials.
CONS:
• Not best source to find cutting-edge research

DISSERTATIONS AND THESES Full Text (ProQuest)

The world's most comprehensive collection of full-text dissertations and theses.