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PHY 200: Career Preparation in Physics and Engineering Physics I Course Guide

Scientific/Technical Publication

Impact factors

From Thomson Reuters site: "The impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year or period…The annual Journal Citation Reports impact factor is a ratio between citations and recent citable items published: a journal's impact factor is calculated by dividing the number of current year citations to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years."

Impact factors are used

  • as a crude measure of journal prestige
  • as a marketing tool
  • as a factor in determining where to publish articles
and misused
  • to evaluate individual articles
  • to evaluate authors (for hiring and/or promotion).
How to manipulate impact factors
  • Publish review articles and/or letters
  • Change the title or publication frequency of a journal
  • Advise readers to cite your article
  • Practice sloppy citation

General database search tips

  • Search in multidisciplinary databases like Web of Science, as well as subject-specific databases like Compendex (engineering) or INSPEC (physics).
  • Try alternative terminology: quantum mechanics as well as quantum theory.
  • Try alternative spelling: quantisation as well as quantization.
  • Truncate (use a wildcard) to get variations on a word: appli* to find applied, application,…Don't drop too many letters when you truncate!
  • Combine terms, using
OR for synonyms or closely related terms
quantum mechanics or quantum theory
OR expands a search, finding results containing either or both terms.  
AND to "cross together" disparate concepts.
quantum mechanics and applications
AND narrows a search, finding only results containing both terms.  
(Use NOT carefully to remove irrelevant results from a search.
It's safer to use a combination of ANDs and your eyeballs.)
  • Try combining ANDs, ORs, and truncation: ("quantum mechanics" or "quantum theory") and appli*
  • Apply limits or refine your results--language, date, publication type, etc.

Finding Journal Articles at Fogler Library

It's possible to obtain articles from other libraries, but when time is tight, focus on what is available locally. See Finding Items at Fogler Library. Getting Items from Other Libraries has information on using resources from other libraries, both in-state and around the country.


Nancy Curtis, 581-1679
Science & Engineering Center, 581-1691
Reference Desk, 581-1673
Ask A Librarian

Created by: Nancy Curtis | Revised: 01/06/2014
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