How to do research in Physics

Library resources for researchers working on physics and applied physics


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Researcher name and year - Peter Boyle 2023
  • Subfield area - “neutrino physics,” “conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics”


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

INSPEC (via HarvardKey) – The top database for scholarship in this field. With over 17 million records, it’s international in scope and includes all fields of physics, materials science, computer science, and engineering. It indexes research back to 1898, and is an unmatched resource for older articles.

Google Scholar (via HarvardKey) – 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 a very smart, very flexible unstructured searching (you can copy and paste citations into the search box) and is excellent for a “quick and dirty” search.

ARXIV – Cutting-edge preprint server for many (but not all) major physics fields. It is the best database for High-Energy Physics Literature.

Dig Deeper

Physics Online Information Resources lists the most useful physics-related information resources, with pros and cons for each. 


Marina Werbeloff, physics librarian, is available to support researchers via email or in-person consultation.

Service Alert:
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Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

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