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Physics and Astronomy: Home

Research guide to help undergraduate students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Subject Librarian

Dan Broadbent's picture
Dan Broadbent
2415 HBLL

Writing a Paper?

1.  Select a topic

You should have a specific topic selected before you begin searching for information in the library.  If you need help in selecting a topic you can:

  • Look in your course syllabus or your teacher may have given you a list of suggested topics.
  • Your textbook for the course is a good place to find topics that may be of interest to you.
  • Read articles in an encyclopedia (there is a good list of reference books including encyclopedias of Math under the "books" tab) about possible topics you are interested in.
  • Do a keyword or subject search in the Library Catalog, in Wikipedia, or Google using various terms you have thought of.

As you develop some background while searching for a topic, narrow it to something specific enough to write a paper about.  You need to begin finding and reading some sources about your topic.  From your reading,formulate a specific question that you intend to research and write about.

2.  Search the Periodical (Journal) Literature

In the Sciences, the primary source of information is articles published in journals (periodicals).  These articles can be found through the databases you'll find by clicking on the "Find Articles / Use Databases" tab above.

  • Choose a likely database or index and search it with some of the terms you have been encountering in your background research.  
  • When you find useful articles, copy them or download them and be sure to copy down their full bibliographic citation including title, author, volume, pages, year of publication, and journal title.
  • Determine if the Library has the periodical.  Some databases or indexes have direct links to the full text of the articles but if the one you are using does not you will have to check the Library Catalog to see if the Library has a subscription to the journal and get the electronic version through the Library catalog or the print version (if we do not have an electronic version) in the Periodical Room.  There are some journals we do not have; these may be requested through Interlibrary Loan, a quick, free (to students and employees of BYU) service for getting items from other libraries.
  • For even more relevant articles and books be sure to check the bibliographies at the ends of the sources you have found.

We Want to Help

Welcome to the Physics and Astronomy Subject Page. In the tabs above you will find all kinds of useful information to help you with your research.

If you would like additional help, please feel free to contact me or the science reference desk.

Science Reference Desk  (801) 422-2987  email

Reference Desk HoursMon-Thurs 8am-9pm; Fri 8am-6pm; Sat 10am-6pm