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Subject Research Guides

Physics and Astronomy

(or Astronomy & Physics, if you prefer)

Reference Books

Use these sources at the beginning of your research to get an overview of a topic or to identify synonyms, related terms, or simply data that will apply to your topic. Later, return to these sources to clarify concepts or define new vocabulary. These sources often include bibliographical references that may prove helpful.

McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology
Ref Q 121.M3 2002
A classic twenty volume science reference work; this resource never fails the reference librarians!

Macmillan Encyclopedia of Physics
Ref QC 5.M15 1996
Over 700 articles on topics in physics and its subdisciplines.

Popular Physics and Astronomy an Annotated Bibliography
Ref QC 24.5 .S65 1996
This is a great place to get started. Lists many areas of physics and where the original literature on these topics can be found.

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The Gould Library has rich collections of books, journals, government documents, and other resources. You may access them via Bridge, the online catalog (web version or telnet version). You may search Bridge by title, author, subject, or word.

Relevant Library of Congress Call Numbers

This is only a partial list of the call numbers pertaining to Physics. For a complete listing, go to the Library of Congress Classification Outline, provided by the Cataloging Policy and Support Office of the Library of Congress.

  • QB1 - QB145 Astronomy
  • QC 6 General Relativity
  • QC 20 Mathematical Physics
  • QC 73 Conservation Laws (Physics)
  • QC 122 - QC 168 Mechanics
  • QC 122 - QC 168 Motion
  • QC 141 - QC 168 Fluids
  • QC 171 - QC 197 Matter
  • QC 173 - QC 175 Field Theory (Physics)
  • QC 174 Quantum Theory
  • QC 178 Gravitation
  • QC 350 - QC 495 Light
  • QC 350 - QC 467 Optics
  • QC 501 - QC 721 Electricity
  • QC 721 Electrons
  • QC 751 - QC 771 Magnetism
  • QC 801 - QC 808 Cosmic Physics
  • QC 806 Geophysics
  • QC 851 - QC 999 Meteorology
  • QC 883 Cosmic Physics- Meteorology
  • TC 160 - TC 179 Hydraulics

Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings are the words and phrases that you will use to do a subject search in Bridge (as opposed to a word search, where you may use any words you like). Although Physics is a Library of Congress Subject Heading, you will probably get better results if you are more specific. If you are interested in thermodynamics for instance, use the subject heading Thermodynamics, Be careful in your word choices--some words and phrases that may seem very natural to you will not be Library of Congress Subject Headings.

It is often helpful to do a word search on your topic, and, once you find an appropriate source, examine the subject headings. You may then conduct a subject search by clicking on the linked subject heading in Bridge. If you cannot find a source using a word search, consult the print Library of Congress Subject Headings on the Ready Reference shelves in the Reference Area.

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Use indexes and databases to locate periodical articles on your topic. Carleton does not own every title indexed in the databases. Check Bridge (the library's catalog) to see if we own the journal title, not journal article, you are looking for. If we don't own the journal, take advantage of our Interlibrary Loan Services.

This is the definitive database for physicists. Articles are refereed and scholarly. Search by subject for information on your topic. INSPEC is now available through Web of Science, click on the link to INSPEC from the front page.

Web of Science
Search the "Science Citation Index" on the Web of Science. This provides access to articles from all science disciplines. You can search by subject, but this database was really designed to let you search for articles that have referenced a specific article.

SciFinder Scholar
Although this is the preferred database for chemists check it out for information in chemical physics. Indexes all of the chemical literature back to 1947. Powerful search features such as formula, structure, registry, patent, substance, subject, and author are easily navigable. Note: This is not a web based service, which means it MUST be loaded on to your hard drive. All computers in the library have this software program loaded.SciFinder Scolar is not available for off-campus use. Only 2 simultaneous users are allowed.

Current Contents
Indexes thousands of scientific periodicals right up to the current week. An easy and effective way to scan the tables of contents to your favorite physics journals.

A collection of full text journals, but now available in the area of General Science. Journal coverage goes back to the 18th century and all articles found are full text. There are some classic papers in this collection including some of the earliest work in electricity.

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Web Links

The Web holds a wide variety of scientific information and misinformation, ranging from popular press coverage to scholarly communications to advertisements to science buff sites. Be careful when using information from web sites, it is changed often which makes it hard to cite it in a paper. If you can find the information in print, it is preferable to use that.
ArXiv (pronounced "") is a repository for research papers in physics, computer science, mathematics and neuroscience. While many of the papers on the server are high quality, be warned that they are not peer-reviewed. ArXiv does moderate the submissions for relevance and appropriateness, and has recently implemented and endorsement system for some submissions. However, this is not the same as peer-review.

A collection of selected high quality, free science web resources. PSIgate is part of the Resource Discovery Network, a service through the UK academia.

Google Advanced Search
Many colleges and universities have a lot of good information on their web pages. Use the advanced search interface of to limit your search to academic sites only (.edu,, etc). You can also try Google Scholar which tries to limit searches to scholarly papers. Note however, that many of the results will not be available for free. Check the library first before to see if we subscribe to the journal, or order through InterLibrary Loan instead of paying money for access (your tuition money already pays for the subscriptions and ILL services)

NIST Physical Reference Data
The National Institute of Standards and Technology maintains this website, and it is very current. You can find numerical data, reference information and information on papers that have been published relating to the data. Be aware that many of the pages should be printed in landscape mode.

This site is brought to you by the institute of physics. The site includes news, resources, company information and job listings. Check the "Latest News" section to see short articles on recently published articles.
A search engine that searches scientific information at government agencies.
A catalog of government web resources in science and technology. This website focuses on the results of science and technology research done by the government, not science policy or administration.

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