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Physics 198: Getting Started

A guide to resources for Physics 98/198

Start your search

Go to the library homepage, lib.berkeley.edu, to use "Start your search" to search across all library resources.

Consult resources at the Physics-Astronomy Library: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/physics-library

Getting acquainted with physics journals

The Library subscribes to 1,000+ Physics Journals. 

Consult our A-Z List for a complete list of Physics titles.

Recommended titles for background/news:

General/Interdisciplinary science titles:

Physics specific titles and publishers:

 

 

Tracking Research Trends

Consult Physics Department and Lawrence Berkeley Lab websites for local research and group information.

Use InCites Essential Science Indicators to track trending papers and research topics.

Consult Google Scholar metrics for classic papers in your field of interest. These are highly cited articles that were published ten years prior.

What is Peer Review?

Your instructor may want you to use "peer reviewed" articles as sources for your paper. Or you may be asked to find picture of thinking student"academic," "scholarly," or "refereed" articles. What do these terms mean?

Let's start with the terms academic and scholarly, which are synonyms. An academic or scholarly journal is one intended for a specialized or expert audience. Journals like this exist in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Examples include Nature, Journal of Sociology, and Journal of American Studies. Scholarly/academic journals exist to help scholars communicate their latest research and ideas to each other; they are written "by experts for experts."  Magazines like Time or Scientific American, newspapers, (most) books, government documents, and websites are not peer-reviewed, though they may be thoroughly edited and fact-checked.

Most scholarly/academic journals are peer reviewed; another synonym for peer reviewed is refereed. Before an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, it's evaluated for quality and significance by several specialists in the same field, who are "peers" of the author. Many times this is a "blind review" where the reviewers do not know who the author is and vice-versa.  Reviewers make comments and edits of the article and send those back to author before publication.  The article may go through several revisions like this before it finally reaches publication.

How do you find peer-reviewed articles?  The easiest way to know if an article is peer-reviewed is to select the "peer-reviewed" (scholarly, refereed, etc) limit in an article database. 

How can you tell if an article is peer-reviewed? A couple clues will alert you:

  • Is the article written by an academic (professor, grad student, professional, etc)? 
  • Are there citations or other references to academic sources? 
  • Is the article from a journal with academics as editors or an editorial board made up of academics?
  • Does the journal say its peer-reviewed?

As you become more familiar with an academic discipline, you will learn the peer-reviewed journals in that field.    

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