Bibliography for the History of Science, Part 1: Basic use

To find information related to the history of science in a wide variety of academic journals and monographs, consult the Isis Bibliography for the History of Science. This remarkable project is sponsored by the international History of Science Society and is published annually as part of the society’s flagship journal, Isis. It is produced by Prof. Stephen Weldon (right) at the OU History of Science Collections.

Access the Bibliography online:

Online access to the Isis Bibliography, going back to 1970, is provided through the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM) database.

  1. Go to the OU website (
  2. Click the “Libraries” link on the left side to go to the OU Libraries website (
  3. Log in. Enter your 4×4 and password in the crimson-colored navigation bar near the top of the screen.
  4. Click “Databases” in the lower, central part of the page.
  5. Click “H” in the browse alphabetically area beneath the search field.
  6. Scroll down to “History of Science…” Read the brief description, if you wish, and click the link to open the database. You will see the web page open up, with “HistSciTechMed Basic Search” at the top.
    • Shortcut: Click here to skip steps #1-6 and go straight to the HistSciTechMed database.
  7. Imagine that you want to identify an interesting article or two about Newton’s alchemy. Enter “Newton Alchemy” into the Key Word field and click Search.
  8. Read through this list of items and decide what you want. Let’s say that you see an article by B.J.T. Dobbs entitled “Newton’s ‘Clavis’: New Evidence on Its Dating and Significance,” published in the journal Ambix. This article is listed as one of the hits, and the Bibliography provides you with a complete citation, including year of publication, volume number, and page numbers.
  9. After you have identified what you want using the Bibliography and have a complete citation, then go to the Libraries website to see if it is available, either in print or online. To obtain this article, click the link for E-Journals on the Libraries home page and then type Ambix in the search field. You will see that full-text pdf articles from Ambix are available to logged-in users from several sources, including the IngentaConnect database provided by OU Libraries.

Many journals are available online through the OU Libraries. But if the one you want is not, history of science journals and monographs are available in print format from the History of Science Collections on the 5th floor of Bizzell Library. Use the Libraries’ online catalog to search for the item. But if the item you want is available neither online nor in printed form through the University Libraries, then you may obtain it by requesting it via the OU Libraries’ Inter-Library-Loan service.

Student questions:

  1. Go to the online bibliography and find the article by Dobbs described above. What is its year of publication?
  2. What is its volume number?
  3. What is its page range?
  4. Write a complete bibliographic citation for this article:
  5. Find the article by Dobbs online, as instructed above (step #9). What is the last word on the second page of this article?

Read more:

In the April, 2010 newsletter of the History of Science Society, Prof. Weldon explains a number of tips and strategies for advanced searching in the HistSciMedTech database: “Searching Smartly in the HistSciTechMed database.”

The bibliography was begun in 1913 by historian of science George Sarton as part of his new journal Isis, and it has been published continuously since then. In 2000 the bibliography office moved to the University of Oklahoma. The Isis Current Bibliography is now edited by Stephen P. Weldon.

The print version of the bibliography comes out annually, and is mailed with the December issue of the journal Isis. Access to the bibliographic data is also available online through OCLC’s HistSciTechMed database, which can be accessed through many libraries in North America and some institutions outside of North America. All members of the History of Science Society have access to this database as part of their membership.

About ouhos

Kerry Magruder, Curator; and JoAnn Palmeri, Librarian
This entry was posted in Class aids, Research tips, Who we are. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bibliography for the History of Science, Part 1: Basic use

  1. Pingback: Wikipedia: Ready reference vs. Research literature | OU History of Science Collections

  2. Pingback: Reference Resources | OU History of Science Collections

Comments are closed.