1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Scientific Journals

  1. Jun 11, 2007 #1
    I am really new at this ( I guess you can tell :blushing:) so this is probably a stupid question but where can we access authentic scientific journals?
    I know that books are considered second sources, and the paper journals publish are suppose to be the first source of information....:shy:..
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2007 #2

    Claude Bile

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Most journal articles can be found on online. A specific journal will usually have its own home-page where one can browse through the articles for that journal. If you want to search across multiple journals, you need to use a meta-search such as Web of Knowledge.

    Online access is not free - however if your institution possesses an online subscription, you can access the article through your institutions network.

    Example of a Journal home-page; http://www.nature.com/nature/index.html

  4. Jun 11, 2007 #3
    that web site is amazing....
  5. Jun 12, 2007 #4
    libraries are usually pretty good places to find journals. doesn't anybody know about libraries anymore?
  6. Jun 12, 2007 #5
    i dont understand why sometimes it costs 25$ an article. it doesn't make sense to charge the public who can't afford it, i think this prevents the dissemination of information. charging universities makes sense though.
  7. Jun 12, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You can walk into any university library anywhere in the world, sit down, and browse journals to your heart's delight, all day long. Fair use laws often permit you to make photocopies of the material, as well.

    I'll also teach you another secret: most universities have paid subscriptions to all the major journals. If you walk into the library and sit down at one of their computers, you can access almost all of the journals for free. Often the school's library homepage will give you a list of subscribed journals.

    - Warren
  8. Jun 12, 2007 #7
    Also, nowadays many physicists and astronomers post their papers on the ArXiv, which is an archive of pre-print papers. These are generally papers that have been submitted to journals, but have not necessarily been accepted yet. If you're looking for papers from the last 10 years or so, there's a rather good chance they will be on the ArXiv (although, that chance depends on the specific field).
  9. Jun 12, 2007 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    And just why would a university pay for articles that any of their students or faculty can get for free? :confused:
  10. Jun 13, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

  11. Jun 13, 2007 #10
    Around here, yes the university has paid online subscriptions to all journals, but you can't sit down at a computer without a university student ID.

    Nonetheless, universities are no longer maintaining paper subscriptions, and tend even to be disposing of what they already have (space is only increasing in value). (I imagine Canberra's National Library of Australia *might* have all significant scientific journals.. but for people living anywhere else in the country?)

    This means that if you want to read some "obscure" (ie. specific) journal article, you need to persuade some university student to download it for you.

    This is worrisome. People frequently should be able to research scientific literature, which normally involves first reading one paper, then finding all the papers it referenced, then reading some of the papers that those (in turn) referenced. Unless the publishers individual article download rates are all exceedingly cheap (which they aren't), it just isn't affordable for a private individual to go through the literature like that. And because relevant articles invariably span several different journals, an (expensive) online subscription with any one publisher is also insufficient. Even if the papers are out of copyright (part of the problem must be that copyright law is now dictated to serve powerful corporations rather than purely encouraging new creativity), I'm not aware of any "project gutenberg for scientific journals" (anyone? [Edit: oh, is PROLA free? What about other journals?]).

    Somehow, as a side-effect of the means that were historically necessary in order to share information, we've ended up in a situation where (though the majority of scientific research is publicly funded) the public cannot access the resulting scientific literature.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2007
  12. Jun 13, 2007 #11


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Perish the thought that someone would actually have to pay for something they wanted! You want a shiny new car? Here it is for free! You want a free subscription to Playboy? Here you go! You want a free subscription to PRL? Please, take it! It's not like it costs us any money to print these things...

    P.S. Although some of the computers at my university are password protected (so that they can only be used by the students who pay (pay!?) tuition) there are also many non-password protected machines which can be used to look at all the scientific publications to which the library subscribes. Anyone can use the unprotected machines. Even people who complain a lot about having to pay for things.
  13. Jun 14, 2007 #12
    All universities in Australia have the ability to get stuff from other university/govt libraries on inter-library loan. It's not free, but for postgrads and postdocs etc. the cost should be covered by your department. This allows you to get obscure/old journal articles with relative ease within a few days (a week at most). I've used this extensively during my PhD without issue. I'm sure similar arrangements would be in place elsewhere in the world.

    While I'm grateful for online access to journal articles, the online papers only go back maybe 15-20 years so far...So it's not that great when you need to read something prior to 1985 and your university no longer keeps hard copies! But the journal publishers are slowly (but surely) getting the older stuff online :)
  14. Jun 14, 2007 #13


    User Avatar

  15. Jun 14, 2007 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    The infrastructure to support a journal is extensive, and there needs to be a staff to support the operation. Most journals are online now, but they used to be published in hard-copy.

    One can certainly go to ArXiv for free online journals.

    I often use Science Direct. I certainly think they could reduce the cost per article or sell packages (certain volume) at discount.

    I remember one journal subscription costing several thousands of $/yr.
  16. Jun 14, 2007 #15
    The reason the students and faculty get the articles for free is because the university pays for them!
  17. Jun 14, 2007 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    This reminds me of an anecdote I heard about the National Weather Service.
    I think http://www.nwseo.org/html/library/stewards_maual/legislative-.htm [Broken] makes reference to it:
    "As a result, the NWS is gradually being removed from the public's eye entirely. Members of Congress have praised the Weather Channel for their forecasts of severe winter weather. One Congressman even questioned even the need for the NWS since radar pictures were created by "the doppler company." Such ignorance of certain Members of Congress could not be more dangerous to the American public. Only NWSEO members go to Capitol Hill each year to attempt to educate Congress on the life saving importance of NWS service to our nation."

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Scientific Journals
  1. Journal Recomendations (Replies: 1)