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How to search for scientific papers: Which search utilities to use?

by el_hijoeputa
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Apr8-09, 12:00 PM
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In the stupid quest to know everything about a subject, i just wonder if there exist databases out there that include all the existing journals to search for an specific topic.

I currently use Science Direct, but that is restricted only to Elsevier journals. For example, it does not include papers in Nature, Science, or Physical Reviews, which I have to search in each individual website. What utilities are available to search across the most journals?

I have hear about Web of Science, but haven't tried it. Which databases or journal search utilities do you use and recommend?
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Apr8-09, 12:58 PM
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You might want to search arXiv. Lots of stuff gets self-published there, but if you confine your self to papers that say "accepted for publication by XXX" or similar you'll still have a lot on your plate. Another option to dig deeply into a specific subject is to use CiteBase, and follow citations so that you can see papers that reference the ones you're most interested in.
Apr8-09, 01:22 PM
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nonfree: MathSciNet, ....

Andy Resnick
Apr8-09, 01:43 PM
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How to search for scientific papers: Which search utilities to use?

There is not a "universal library" yet, so I use a few in addition to arXiv:
Apr8-09, 01:54 PM
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Scholar that robphy linked to is actually very good and is what I use most of the time when I am searching for informaiton nowadays.
I also have access to Web of Science which *should* be better than Scholar given that it is a commerical service, but I rarely use it unless I am looking for somethin specific (or want to know how many times one of my papers have been cited etc).
Apr8-09, 04:05 PM
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In chemistry, SciFinder ( is one of the standard tools for literature searches. I haven't used it in a while, because I'm not doing organic synthesis anymore.

In biology, PubMed ( is THE standard tool for searching through the literature. It includes most biology journals, but only a few chemistry/physics/math journals. It's greatest advantage is that it is free. I find that it is more comprehensive than Google Scholar (at least among the biology journals). However, Google Scholar seems better at picking out some of the more relevant, important papers on a topic (especially if they are older as PubMed searches are displayed chronologically, so you have to scroll through many pages to find older articles).

I've found Web of Science to be helpful in searching about a specific topic because of it's ability to easily browse through papers that cite a certain paper. This makes it somewhat easier to see if follow up work has been done on a certain topic.

Here's what I do if I'm doing a lit review on a topic (in biology). First I would go to PubMed and search for reviews on the topic. Review articles are often a great source to find citations to relevant papers. Next, I'd use Google Scholar to perform broad searches on the topic, and use PubMed to search for specific authors who have done work on the area in which I'm interested. Finally, once I've identified a few important/interesting papers, I'd use Web of Science to search for articles citing those papers to see what new additions people have made to the field.

addendum: PubMed has the advantage of saving searches as RSS feeds so that you can use your RSS reader to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field. Web of Science offers RSS feeds/e-mail alerts when specific papers are cited, which can be useful if you've published a paper and want to know when someone has cited you.
Apr8-09, 05:49 PM
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INSPEC and "web of science"
Apr8-09, 08:55 PM
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I alternate between Web of Science and Google Scholar for my searches in materials science, microfabrication, and cell biology. Web of Science shows the abstract and lists a paper's references with links; Google Scholar searches the full text and provides convenient BibTeX citation info at a click.
Apr8-09, 09:02 PM
P: 14

for astronomy/astrophysics/physics and geophysics

arXiv is good as well

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