Science and Technology: Periodicals, Databases, & Indexes

"The creation of the scientific journal began in the seventeenth century” (Tu-Keener, 2014, 16).

Many science and technology periodicals are scholarly journals with rigorous editorial standards. Peer review is a common standard across disciplines. Specifically, articles go through a process that involves evaluation by the journal editor and also a panel of experts in the field. They may be published by professional associations, scholarly societies, trade groups, nonprofits, university presses, or commercial publishers.

Journals are often the first sources to share information about a new discovery. In addition, they are some of the most frequently consulted information sources. However particularly in areas such as science and business, “professionals prefer to read journal articles within their first three years of publication” (Tu-Keefner, 2014).

Read Kenyon, Jeremy, Sprague, Nancy R. (Winter 2014). Trending in the use of supplementary materials in environmental science journals. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. Available: http://www.istl.org/14-winter/refereed5.html

Open Access

"The first open access peer-reviewed journal, the monthly PLoS Biology, was first issued online in October 2003 by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians.

BioMed Central (BMC) is an example of an independent commercial publisher committed to providing immediate open access to peer-reviewed research. Its charter states that, 'The author(s) or copyright owner(s) irrevocably grant(s) to any third party, in advance and in perpetuity, the right to use, reproduce or disseminate the research article in its entirety or in part, in any format or medium, provided that no substantive errors are introduced in the process, proper attribution of authorship and correct citation details are given, and that the bibliographic details are not changed.'" (Reitz, 2014).

Examples of open-access science and technology sources include:

Scenario Stumper
I'm starting a graduate program in oceanography and I'm supposed to become familiar with the periodicals being published in the United States. Where do I start? How many are there?
Go to Ulrich's Periodical Directory and search for active, journals in the United States.
The Bottom Line... there are about a dozen key journals in this area. One nice thing about using Ulrich's Periodical Directory is that it provides a link to the IUPUI databases if the journal is available through IUPUI.

General Science and Technology


Popular Journals and Magazines

Many public libraries are now offering electronic versions of journals through companies like Zinio. Some examples of popular magazines in science offered by Zinio include:

Scenario Stumper
I commute to work on the subway. I'd really like something that I can read on my iPhone or iPad. I don't want anything too heavy, but I would like something related to science or nature.
Try a magazine such as Astronomy, Audubon, Discover or Popular Science. All of these magazines are available at many public libraries through Zinio.
The Bottom Line... rather than a book or journal, consider magazines for short, informational articles on popular topics.

General Databases

try itTry It!
Locate a journal in the science, technology, and mathematics, medical or health area using any database you wish. Examine the cover and first few pages as well as the last few pages. Also, look at the table of contents to see how the articles and other information are organized within the journal. What information is provided that might be useful in matching the journal with readers? What type of reader might be interested in this journal. List the title of the journal and share your findings in a few sentences.

Agriculture and Food Science





Scenario Stumper
I'm studying the contributions of fungi and bacteria on soil organic matter. I'm interested in any recent studies in this area.
Current Contents Connect: Agriculture, Biology & Environmental Sciences (Web of Science) would be a good place to start. It focuses on agriculture as well as current topics.
The Bottom Line... there are 36 recent studies, but one specifically addresses the contributions of both fungi and bacteria.

Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology









Chemistry and Biochemistry




try itTry It!
Go to the American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications website and choose the ACS Journals tab. Pick TWO of the journals in related areas to explore. Examine the About the Journal description. Also note the journal standing. Compare the lengths of the articles. Who's the audience? Share your insights in a few sentences.

Computer Science, Informatics, and Robotics





try itTry It!
Explore the ACM journals available through ACM Digital Library. Available through IUPUI.
Notice that each journal focuses on a particular area of computing.




Engineering and Applied Science





Scenario Stumpers
I've been asked to do some electrical work in a health care facility. I'm familiar with residential construction, but I need to check on codes specifically related to health care facilities.
The MAD CAD Building Codes eLibrary provides information about builidng codes.
The Bottom Line... there are specific electrical requirements for health care facilities. You can find them at Chapter 5: Special Occupancies: Health Care Facilities.

Environmental Sciences and Biodiversity




Scenario Stumper
I work for a nonprofit that focuses on environmental issues along the California coast. We're looking at the impact of coastal pollution on tide pools and specifically sea urchins. I'm interested in whether there are studies that show the negative impact of pollution on tide pool creatures.
Pollution Abstracts from ProQuest focuses on scientific research related to pollution including marine pollution.
The Bottom Line... Yes, Pollution Abstracts identified numerous studies specifically focusing on the impact of pollution on sea urchins.








try itTry It!
Go to GeoRef from ProQuest. Note that that this service includes a number of databases. Go to the Advanced Search. Notice that the database contains many different types of resources beyond articles.

Life Sciences and Zoology




try itTry It!
Go to Web of Science. This database contains 8500 high impact journals within many different collections. Click the orange DOWN ARROW button after the words Web of Science Core Collection. This will list the many different subscribed collections. Explore the Zoological Record. Search for an endangered animal such as the desert tortoise. What articles can you find?

Material Science



Mathematics and Statistics












Physics and Physical Science





Plant Sciences and Horticulture



Health and Medicine Journals


General Medicine



Cardiac & Cardiovascular Systems

Clinical Neurology

Critical Care and Emergency Medicine





Geriatrics and Gerontology

Health Care Sciences


Immunology and Infectious Diseases



Obstetrics & Cynecology






Respiratory System



Urology and Nephrology

Veterinary Sciences

Other Medical

Health and Medicine Magazines






Health and Medicine

Available in both print and electronic formats, periodicals are important information sources in science and technology. According to Feli Tu-Keefner (2014), they are some of the most used items in a health science library collection. However with increasing use of full-text journals in electronic format, many libraries are decreasing subscriptions to print journals.

"Medical journals play a significant role in support of health care, education, research, and translational medicine. These resources may affect how physicians provide patient care, as well as how public health professionals develop policies and take action. Currently, many health-care providers (including physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals) are required to integrate evidence-based medicine (EBM) models into their practices. Physicans and clinicians must have immediate access to relevant evidence (usually journal articles) when critical clincial decisions are being made" (Tu-Keefner, 2014, 62).

Read Beyer, Fiona R. & Wright, Kath (2012). Can we prioritise which databases to search? a case study using a systematic review of frozen shoulder management. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 30, 49-58.

Open Access Databases

As you explore the resources you may wonder about the difference among some of the free vs subscription databases. Here's a quick overview of three of the most popular:

readTry It!
Explore MEDLINE from EBSCO, Ovid MEDLINE, PubMed, and also MedLinePlus. Compare and contrast both the interfaces as well as the search results. Which are easiest to use? Which provide the most full-text articles? Select an area of healthcare and explore the resources. Write a short paragraph about your findings.

Read Bartol, Tomaz (2012). Assessment of indexing trends with specific and general terms for herbal medicine. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 29, 285-295.


Scenario Stumpers
I know that there have been some recently developed diagnostic tools for identifying children on the autism spectrum. I'm interested in both observational schedules and interview techniques. What's the best place to look for research?
Health and Psychosocial Instruments (HAPI) provides information on a wide range of behavioral measurement instruments.
The Bottom Line... a number of companies specialize in testing, so a Google search may lead you to advertisements rather than quality research. Use the Health and Psychosocial Instruments (HAPI) database from EBSCO to explore options before making a decision.







Scenario Stumper
I'm taking an anatomy course, but I'm having trouble dealing with the many different layers. Do you know of something that would help me visualize anatomy?
Anatomy.TV provides multi-layer graphics of the human body. It's easy to use and provides explanations.
The Bottom Line... there are lots of free websites and apps on anatomy, but some of the subscription-based services are worth the cost.

Review and Criticism Sources

readTry It!
It's easy to become overwhelmed by all the databases available in medicine and health care. Create at least three different lists of the resources you think are most valuable for particular library users.


Pickett, K. M. (2008). Reaching beyond MEDLINE: A beginner’s overview of electronic
biomedical resources. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 8(4), 398-410.

Tu-Keefner, Feili (2014). Bibliographic sources for periodicals. In J. Huber & S. Swogger, Introduction to Reference Sources in Health Sciences, Sixth Edition. ALA. Google Preview Available: https://books.google.com/books?id=UJr9AwAAQBAJ

Reitz, Joan M. (2014). Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Libraries Unlimited. Available: http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_a.aspx.

The descriptions for many of the databases are excerpt or adapted from the IUPUI A to Z Database page.

Journals selected based on Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports.

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