Skip to main content

PHYS 400 - Freshman Seminar (UNH Durham): Find Materials & Get Help

An introductory outline of UNH Library services and resources especially intended for first-year physics majors.

Articles in Physics

Articles, or papers, are published as individual pieces within a larger work, such as a periodical.  Periodicals can be scholarly journals or trade (professional) magazines; they can be newspapers, blogs, zines, etc.  At scholarly conferences, presentations that are written up for publication in the conference proceedings are also called articles. 

The first scholarly scientific journal began in England in the 1600's and is still being published today. Articles in scientific journals are the essential written record of scientific discovery, whether these journals are in print or online.  The scientists of today contribute their own discoveries to the growing scientific record in journal articles and as conference presentations.  This information cycle from the field or the lab to the literature and back is a strong element of physics research.


Physics Today

Keeping you up-to-date with discoveries and conversations in physics, Physics Today is the flagship member publication of the American Institute of Physics (AIP), an umbrella organization for 10 member societies.  The American Physical Society (APS), the Optical Society (OSA), and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) are some of the members, and the Society of Physics Students (SPS) plus Sigma Pi Sigma are also within the AIP.  Access to Physics Today is a member benefit but even if you are not a member yet, you can read Physics Today online and sign up for newsfeeds through the UNH Library's subscription.



The UNH Library offers general databases as well as more sophisticated, subject-specialized resources to find articles.  As an undergraduate, you may have papers and assignments in almost any field.  Feel free to ask for help getting started or at any point.

The UNH Library Catalog ("Books & Media") can help you find books in print or online to help build your understanding and provide foundational references.  At Dimond, the Research Center librarians can point you in the right direction.  If you are looking for astronomy or physics books or encyclopedias, the Physics Library Manager (Heather Castle) and her student staff can help you find what you are looking for or show you which area of the shelves to browse. 

Many useful books are on reserve; you can look reserve lists up by Course or Professor

For articles, a general database that covers a broad range of topics and is useful for finding popular magazine articles as well as some academic articles is Academic Search Complete. This can be a good introductory database to search.  The Articles & More tab on the library website offers a combination of databases plus the library catalog.  In addition, try the subject-specific databases for better coverage of literature in a particular field of research.

For introductory-level Physics and Astronomy articles, introductory article index databases are:

Academic Search Premier

Applied Science & Technology (use the "Check for Fulltext" button to see if the Library has the article!)

When you begin to conduct research, please ask for further information, or see related research guides.

Not sure where to begin?  Ask at one of the branch libraries or Dimond Library. 

Most reference help contacts:

Specific contacts:     Heather Castle, Physics Library Manager, (862-2348)

Emily Poworoznek, Engineering & Physical Sciences Librarian,


Finding Journals Through the Library Catalog

Scholarly periodicals are often called "journals." To find out whether UNH has a particular journal online, in print, or in another format, you can search for the journal title in the UNH Library Catalog. Or, you can check the list of UNH fulltext online journals, which lists online journals by title; it does not include the library's collections of print journals.

Like most library catalogs, the UNH Library catalog lets you look up the author of a book, or the title of a journal, whole book, magazine, newspaper, or other whole works.  The catalog does not keep track of articles individually, so searching in it for articles does not work. To find articles, use the library "databases."  For general instructions on finding articles at the UNH Library, see the "Find" tab or click here.

For help interpreting journal abbreviations, ask a librarian/library staff or check the list of Science and Engineering Journal Abbreviations

Getting Articles from Selected Magazines

To do a search on science or engineering ethics or policy, or to select certain entry-level science magazines, the Academic Search Complete (ASC) database is useful.  You will find citations and you'll need to locate the articles, too.  These are mostly not primary source or peer-reviewed articles, so if you need those, don't limit your search to this list of magazines.  Use scholarly journals, instead (see right-hand list of databases).

1.  When you search, you can limit to specific "source" magazines.  For example, use a search box and change the dropdown field to Source.  This means the words you are searching will just be in the magazine title.  If you want to limit your search to these 7 magazines, you can copy and paste this line, adding any other recommended titles.  Note that "OR" means your search terms can be in any of these specific magazines.  All of these are indexed by Academic Source Complete.

Scientific American OR Science News OR National Geographic OR Discover OR Smithsonian OR Natural History OR New Scientist

2.  Each magazine has its own focus, so try searching with different keywords to get best results.  Save the results you like each time, before you move on.  Look for articles with article titles you understand. 

For example, you could be searching for articles on the earthquake in Japan in the spring of 2011, the tsunami that followed, and the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power station there. Search terms (keywords) could be:  tsunami, earthquake, Japan, nuclear, accident or disaster.  To learn enough background to choose keywords, Wikipedia or Google are good starting points.

3. You can use a date limit.  This earthquake was in 2011, so articles published before 2011 would not cover it.  Most article databases have a date limit; in ASC, scroll down the search page to "Publication Date" and input an appropriate month and year for starting and ending coverage.

MODEL IN ACTION:  Click to see this search 

 4. After you search, to get the articles:

a)  Click on the article title to see its summary (abstract).  Decide if you want to read the article.  If you do...

b) ASC offers links to these choices for fulltext: 

  • HTML Fulltext  -- the article in HTML.  Text but usually NO GRAPHICS (pictures, tables, charts, etc.)!
  • PDF Fulltext  -- the article in PDF.  Includes text and graphics (it's a copy of the full article).
  • Check for Fulltext -- this checks what UNH offers.  It can link to the online article or journal, or give you other options for getting the article. 

Getting a print copy:  if there are no online links to the article or journal, the "Check for Fulltext" page will show links to automatically search the Library Catalog by journal title or ISSN.

 When you are at the journal's record in the UNH Library Catalog, if the location of the volume you need says Storage Per Request Item, use the Request icon at the top toolbar to request the volume you need.  Or, use the InterLibrary Loan form online (see below) to request a scan of the article and we'll make one for you.

 If the UNH Library does not have the article you need, the Check for Fulltext page links to InterLibrary Loan so that you can order the article conveniently at no charge. If you are a First-Time User, log in with your UNH user ID and password (Blackboard ID) and fill out the registration. (more InterLibrary Loaninfo)

Other databases for articles

Where are the other databases?

Database List iconThe Library home page has a complete list of databases organized by topic, type, and title.  Find it by clicking the folder icon on the left side of the page.  Top databases are starred and shown at the top of each subject list.

On the left side of the page, there are also tabs for "Articles" and "Databases." The Articles tab offers a quick discovery search across many topics using multiple databases and the library catalog. It is not complete for sci-tech fields. "Databases" lets you search for databases by keywords in the database's titles and descriptions.

Do databases have the articles?

Some academic databases have copies of articles within them plus links to the article that go beyond the database.  Most scholarly databases just provide links to the article within its source publication, that is: the journal, magazine, or conference proceeding that originally published it.

The "Check for Fulltext" icon is available in most UNH Library databases.  Use it to see if the UNH Library has the article online; a new page will open with results and options.  If an online subscription is not available through UNH, there is an option to check the Library Catalog, and there will also be an option for you to order a digital copy of the article through InterLibrary Loan.

The two databases below are examples of these two types.  These both cover many academic topics.  Both have "Check for Fulltext." The Web of Science is a scholarly database that provides links out to text; it indexes high-quality scholarly journals only; it also provides "cited reference" searching.  Academic Search Complete is very popular because it provides copies of many articles as well as links out to articles; the coverage is not all scholarly, but you can limit the search to the more scholarly journals.


Search for Articles with Library Databases

Tips for Successful Online Searching