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PHYS 344: Classical and Quantum Optics

Professor Marty Baylor - Fall 2022

Finding articles

Inspec is an extremely powerful search tool for physics, engineering and computing literature. It has features that let you target your searches so you can zero in on relevant articles.  

To see all the search fields, click the drop-down next to the search box.  Once you choose a field from the list, you'll be given ways to see options for that field.

Example of an Ispec "select from list" option

[visual description: a screen shot of the Inspec basic search with arrow pointing to "Select from list" and a note to "Search Classification codes to focus your search."]


Example of Inspect Treatment Types search

[visual description: a screen shot of the Inspec basic search with a second search row added and an arrow to a dropdown with a note that you can "See all the treatment types when you click in the search box."]


Some of the fields are standard, such as Title, Author, and Year. Some of the less familiar fields include:

Controlled index: key words and phrases that indexers use to tag articles. These come from the Inspec thesaurus, use them if you're not sure what phrase an author might have used. For instance, for fiber optics, the thesaurus term is "fibre optic sensors"

Controlled and Uncontrolled index: includes both the controlled index and key words and phrases used by authors. Use this field when searching for new technologies and terms that may not be in the controlled index.

Classification codes: a letter and number that specifies the subject areas. This is hierarchical, and the more digits after the letter, the more specific the subject area. Use the classification codes to narrow results to a specific subject or field. If you specify a broad subject, the database will search for all the narrower classifications. If you search the controlled index, you'll be given related classification codes.

Relevant classification codes for this class:

  • A: Physics:
    • A076 - optical instruments and techniques
    • A42 - optics (take a look at the classification in Inspec for the subcodes)
    • A78 - optical properties and condensed matter spectroscopy
  • B: Electrical Engineering a& Electronics:
    • B41 - optical materials and devices
    • B42 - optoelectronic materials and devices
    • B43 - lasers and masers
    • B7230C - photodetectors
    • B7230E - fibre optic sensors
  • C: Computers & Control:
    • C5320K - optical storage

Chemical indexing - search for specific chemicals by their formula. Read more here.

IPC patent codes - Inspec has mapped patent codes to their classification. If you have a patent and want to search for related patents or non-patent literature, use the IPC patent code to do that.

Document type: you can choose journal papers, conference proceedings, patents, reports, and more

Treatment types: this lets you indicate the approach taken in the documents. Documents can have more than one treatment type. This can be extremely powerful if you need a specific type of article.

  • Applications - document describes an actual technique, computer program, or physical effect where a specific application is described.
  • Bibliography - document has a significant number of references. Useful in finding literature reviews.
  • Economic - document deals with economic or commercial aspects of a topic.
  • General or review - document gives an overview of a subject. These are a great place to start on a topic.
  • New developments - document makes a claim of novelty .
  • Practical - the document is meant to be of practical use and is likely to be of use to engineering or design staff.
  • Product review - product comparisons, tables, and buyers' guides. These are always also listed as Practical.
  • Theoretical/mathematical - subject matter is generally theoretical or mathematical.
  • Experimental - document describes an experimental method, observation or result.

Often, the databases you are searching only give you the citation and abstract of the article. When that happens, how do you get to the full text?

1. Check for direct links to full text

If there is a link to the full text from the database, click it!

2. Use the Find It! button

The 'Find It' button searches Carleton and St. Olaf libraries to see if we have the article and if so, how to access it.

If there is online access, click the title of the database to get to the full text.

Screenshot of link to an online journal article

[visual description: screen shot of the Catalyst screen showing a link to online access of an article. Click the link after 'Click here for online access from...']

If it's in print, look in the Physical Copies section and write down the call number so you can find the journal in the library. Journals are shelved on the 3rd floor of the library.

Screenshot example of a print journal call number in Catalyst

[visual description: screen shot of the Catalyst screen showing the call number for a print journal at Carleton.]

If the journal is in print at St. Olaf, you can request to have the journal sent over to Carleton. Under 'Physical Copies,' look for the link to log in to Catalyst. Then, find the volume you need from the list of available volumes and click the word 'Request' on the far right.

Screenshot example of requesting a print journal from Olaf

[visual description: screen shot showing the 'Sign in for request options' link for a print journal at St. Olaf]

If we don't have access to the journal, you can request the article from Interlibrary Loan, but first, move on to the next step:

3. Check Google Scholar

Google Scholar indexes scholarly content on the Internet, including content that may be available for free. Search for the title of the article in quotes.

If there is free access, it will be linked on the right side next to the results.

NOTE: Sometimes the copies of articles linked on the right are not official, final versions of the articles. Be careful using these versions if you are working on something formal like comps or a work for publication, when it is best to work from the official version. Use ILL if Carleton does not have a copy (see step 4).

NOTE: Google Scholar will also point you to the publisher's site, which will ask you for money to purchase the article if the library doesn't have a subscription via that site. Order the article through ILL instead (see step 4).

If there is not free access, look for a link to 'Carleton Full Text,' which will check Catalyst for access:

Screenshot example of a Google Scholar link to Catalyst

[visual description: screen shot of a record in Google Scholar. The link to 'Carleton Full Text' is highlighted.]

Once back in Catalyst use the link to request the article via InterLibrary Loan.

Screenshot example of link to ILL from Catalyst

[visual description: screen shot of Catalyst page for an item not in the collection. The link to ILL is highlighted.]

4. Request from InterLibrary Loan

Request articles through InterLibrary Loan when they are not in the Carleton or St. Olaf collections. Articles will be scanned and sent to you as a pdf, and typically arrive in 2-3 days, but may take longer.

Click 'Interlibrary Loan Request (Carleton)' from the Catalyst page (see above). Log in with your Carleton username and password, and the form will be filled out for the article.

You can also submit a request manually.

Optics Journals

List of print and online optics journals 
(goes to a Catalyst search of journals that have "optics" in the subject.)

If you know the name of a journal you're interested in, you can also look it up on our Journals List.  Search for the title of a journal to see what years the library has, and where the journal is located.