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Topical Guides: Physical Science, Math and Technology Research

Physical Science, Math and Technology Research > 2: Getting Started

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2A: Types of Resources

A portal or gateway site is the best place to begin research. These sites, which are intended to serve as "jumping off" points, will lead the researcher to a variety of useful sources that have been selected because of their relevance or quality. A portal site may include thousands of links on a wide range of topics, or may be very specific in scope and point to a small number of resources.

Portal sites may allow keyword searching, provide topical, hierarchical browsing (drilling down) or both search and browse capabilities. Another useful starting point for research is the search engine, particularly those that are subject-specific.

2B: Examples


Started in Aug 1991, arXiv is a fully automated electronic archive and distribution server for research papers. Covered areas include physics and related disciplines, mathematics, computer science, nonlinear sciences, computational linguistics, and neuroscience. Search by keyword or browse by topical area.

General Chemistry Online

This gateway site includes a searchable database of over 800 common compounds as well as a database of chemistry Web resources, a glossary, exam helpers and more.

Wolfram MathWorld

A mathematical encyclopedia giving brief information on nearly any mathematical topics, including diagrams and references. From the makers of Mathematic software.


Search government scientific information in one stop. Includes information from multiple government agencies dealing with science. Also includes life sciences information from Agricola (agriculture) and PubMed (medicine) databases.

2C: How to Find More

The Internet Public Library Subject Collections (IPL)

Core internet resources are arranged by discipline and then by more specific subject area. An option is also available to find associations or serials related to the subject. These sites have been selected and organized by librarians. A link to pathfinders on very specific topics is also available.

Search Engine Guide

This guide indexes over 3,000 directories and search engines. Organized by category and searchable by keyword.

Wikipedia's Search Engine List

A list of search engines in Wikipedia.


Use the glossary to search the term lithium on the General Chemistry Online site. What is its atomic weight?

[Links open in new browser window.]

Pop Quiz

Portal sites are useful for:

Correct answer: [NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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