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These pages are no longer updated.
Please use our new Research Guides at

Be sure to update any links or bookmarks to point to the new guides.

For subject assistance contact: Nick Lonergan, 717-245-1838.


Search Tips

The Library of Congress Classification System, which is the call number system utilized for locating and organizing library resources, breaks Physics and Astronomy down into these areas:

  • QB Astronomy
  • QC Physics
  • TC 160- TC 179 Hydraulics

Look at the Library of Congress Classification System Outline for more information.

Reference Resources

How to search the library catalog for reference works (print or online):

  • Use keyword search, for instance "physics";
  • Limit the location to "Reference".

For ONLINE reference books (e-books):

  • Use Credo Reference and search for your keyword, topic, or to "Find a Book" on astronomy or physics in general.

Example: The Penguin dictionary of physics Cullerne, John. 2009

Some things are not online yet. Here are examples of some PRINT reference books available at the library:

A dictionary of physics 5th ed. (Oxford) -- Reference QC5 .C56 2005

McGraw-Hill concise encyclopedia of physics -- Reference QC5 .M4245 2005

The Cambridge dictionary of space technology -- Reference TL788 .W54 2001

Cambridge Encyclopedia of Space : Missions, Applications and Exploration

McGraw-Hill encyclopedia of science & technology -- Reference Q121 .M3 2002 V. 1-20

Encyclopedia of physics -- QC5 .R596 2004 Tome Science Library

CRC handbook of chemistry and physics --Reference QD65 .H3 2012-2013, previous years in Tome Science Library

Handbook of optics Vol. III: Classical optics, vision optics, X-ray optics and Vol. IV: fiberoptics and nonlinear optics (online resource)

The Astronomy and astrophysics encyclopedia --Reference QB14 .A873 1991

Finding Journals

Locating articles

Basic process for finding articles

If you find an article that looks interesting check to see if there is a link to the pdf or HTMl version of the article by the citation. If not, then click the "Get It!" button to see if we have access to it either electronically or in print.

If you cannot see either a direct link to the article or the "Get It!" button then search the Journal Locator for the title of the journal that it was published in. If you find the journal title here check to see if we have access to the year in which the journal article was published, and then follow the relevant link. Check the information given to see if the most recent years are located either on the Lower Level of the Library or in the Tome reading room.

Requesting articles we do not own

If we have neither print nor electronic access to an article in our collection, then you can place an order for it through ILLIAD.

You will have to set up account the first time you order an article but once you have done this once you can use this same account each time you want an article.

Once you have an account set up then you can just click the "ILLIAD" link in the "Get it!" button and log into your account and the request form will be automatically populated with the citation information for your desired article so you only need to submit the request.

(If you do not have a journal citation, but instead have a topic, use one of our databases to locate citations).

Why use journals?

• Journals are often peer-reviewed/scholarly. This means the research in the articles have been double-checked for validity.

Primary research often appears in journal articles. Primary research is the first article or report on a topic whereas secondary research are the articles or reports that talk about that primary article. Always look back to the primary article when using secondary sources as support.

• Journals can contain the most recent information on a topic. In the sciences this can be very important.

Finding Articles

If you have a topic and need to locate journal articles:

  • Pick a database from our Database List page, or use one listed below.

If you already have a citation for an article, see Finding Journals

Key Databases:

Institute of Physics Full-text access to a large number of premium peer-reviewed journals in physics and related fields.

Applied Science & Technology Full Text Provides information on trends in the scientific and technological fields. Topics include engineering, acoustics, chemistry, computers, metallurgy, physics, plastics, telecommunications, transportation, and waste management.

Web of Science Provides cited references to social science and science materials. Provides access to Science Citation Index Expanded and Social Science Citation Index Expanded from 1965 - present.

General Science Full Text A general science database that covers everything from supernovas to marine pollution. A good starting point for researchers seeking information on a variety of scientific topics.

MathSciNet Covers the world's mathematical literature and literature in computer science, statistics, econometrics, and applications in areas such as physics, engineering, biology, and information systems.

ScienceDirect A large electronic collection of science, technology and medicine information.

  • NOTE: ScienceDirect identifies full-text articles with a green icon. To determine if Dickinson has access to non full-text articles, or to request an article via interlibrary loan, click on the article title and then expand the "Bibliographic Information" box in the right-hand column, then click on the "Get It!" link

Annual Reviews Publishes 29 series covering three major fields: Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences as well as a number of special publications and Web based projects every year. These purpose of these publications are to record the major innovations and progress of research topics occurring in these disciplines.

Internet Resources

  • ADS: Astrophysics Data System
    "The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) is a Digital Library portal for researchers in Astronomy and Physics, operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under a NASA grant. The ADS maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 9.1 million records: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and arXiv e-prints."
  • APOD: Astronomy Picture of the Day
    "Contains the largest collection of annotated astronomical images on the internet". Co-created by a university professor and a NASA scientist.
  • E-Print Archive
    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.
  • Digital Access to a Sky Century @ Harvard(DASCH)
    A project to scan photographic plates from Harvard's collection documenting temporal variations in the universe between 1885-1993.
  • NASA Images
    A collection of NASA images.
  • 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.
  • PhysicsWorld
    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.
  • Scirus
    A science search engine created by Elsevier, a major science publisher. Searches many science databases and websites and Elsevier science journals. Note that the journal articles are not available free of charge through Scirus; perform a Bridge title search for the journal title to find out if the articles are available at Gould Library. Many of the articles returned are from Elsevier journals.
  • SIMBAD Astronomical Database
    The SIMBAD astronomical database provides basic data, cross-identifications, bibliography and measurements for astronomical objects outside the solar system.
  • WWW Virtual Library of Physics
    A collection of web links on physics topics.




Physics and Astronomy Department Website