15 Recommended Databases by Discipline

When you are conducting a literature review for a research project (499 project, Master’s or PhD) you often need to search in multiple places to find all of the information you need. No single database contains every relevant article. In interdisciplinary work, it is particularly important to search in multiple databases.

Once you have developed a good search strategy, it is easy to convert that strategy from one database to another.

This page contains recommended databases for different disciplines of physics. It is recommended to search both general physics databases as well as discipline specific databases.

General Physics

The databases listed here cover physics and the many sub-disciplines of physics. These databases will be a good source for all physics research.

Top Recommendations:

  • arXiv: arXiv.org is an electronic archive and distribution server for open access preprint papers in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology and statistics.
  • Web of Science: A major multidisciplinary database for the sciences and the social sciences, as well as a great research metrics tool. Contains coverage from the year 1900 to the present.

Other Recommendations:

  • Inspec: A database covering material in the fields of physics, electrical engineering and electronics, computers and control engineering, and information technology
  • Scopus: The world’s largest interdisciplinary literature database, including over 67 million journal records. Especially strong in science, engineering, technology, and medicine, with coverage from .
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics: The CRC Handbook is a comprehensive reference material containing property information and physical constants. Coverage includes physical constants of organic compounds, chemical properties, spectroscopy, atomic, molecular and optical physics, nuclear and particle physics, properties of solids, polymer properties, geophysics, astronomy, acoustics, health and safety information, and more.

Astronomy and Astrophysics

  • Astrophysics Data System (ADS): ADS is a digital library portal for researchers in astronomy and physics. ADS contains more than 13 million records covering publications in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and the arXiv preprints.
  • CDS Portal: The Strasbourg Astronomical Data Center (CDS) hosts the SIMBAD astronomical database; the VizieR astronomical catalogue service. and the Aladin interactive sky atlas. The CDS Portal searches these databases simultaneously using either object name or coordinates. CDS is best when searching for information and literature about specific astronomical objects.
    • SIMBAD: SIMBAD is the world reference database for the identification of astronomical objects.  SIMBAD provides basic data, cross-identifications, bibliography and measurements for astronomical objects. SIMBAD can be queried by object name, coordinates and various criteria.
    • VizieR: VizieR provides the most complete library of published astronomical catalogues – tables and associated data – with verified and enriched data, accessible via multiple interfaces.
  • NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED): NED is a comprehensive database of multiwavelength data and references for extragalactic objects, providing a information integrated from hundreds of large sky surveys and tens of thousands of research publications.


In biophysics it is important to search medical and biological literature in addition to physics literature.

  • PubMed: PubMed comprises more than 30 million records for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.
  • medRxiv: medRxiv is a free online archive and distribution server for preprints in the medical, clinical, and related health sciences.
  • bioRxiv: bioRxiv is a free online archive and distribution server for preprints in the biological and life sciences.

Note: both Web of Science (All Databases) and Scopus also include MEDLINE in their search, and Web of Science (All Databases) searches BIOSIS, a large biological sciences database.

Computational Physics

  • ACM Digital Library: The ACM Digital Library contains all Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) publications as well as a comprehensive bibliographic database focused exclusively on the field of computing and applied computer sciences
  • IEEE Xplore: The IEEE Xplore digital library features scientific and technical content published by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Thought it primary focuses on electrical engineering, it also has content covering computing sciences and physics.

Condensed Matter Physics

There is no database specifically targeted to condensed matter physics, but useful material can still be found in other physics databases.

  • INSPIRE: INSPIRE primarily covers high energy physics, but also has some coverage of condensed matter physics.


  • GeoRef: GeoRef (1785 to the present) includes international coverage of the earth sciences and all aspects of geology and geophysics.

Particle Physics

  • INSPIRE: INSPIRE is an information platform for high energy physics, comprising 8 interlinked databases on literature, conferences, institutions, journals, researchers, experiments, jobs and data. It is previously know as SPIRES. Additionally, INSPIRE contains arXiv preprints relevant to particle physics.
  • CERN Document Server (CDS): The CERN Document Server contains records of about 700,000 CERN and non-CERN articles, preprints, theses.



For help adapting your search strategy to new database, check the database’s help feature or contact your librarian



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Advanced Library Skills for Physics Research Copyright © 2020 by Lauren Stieglitz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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