Producer Institution of Engineering and Technology
History 1967–present
Providers Inspec Direct, Datastar, Dialog, EBSCO Publishing, Elsevier, WTI-Frankfurt, Thomson Innovation, Thomson Web of Knowledge, Ovid, Questel.Orbit, STN
Cost Subscription
Disciplines Physics, Computer science, Mechanical engineering, Electrical engineering, Electronic engineering, Communications, Control engineering, Information technology, Manufacturing, Mechanical engineering
Record depth Index & abstract
Format coverage Journal articles
Temporal coverage 1969–present
Geospatial coverage Global
Number of records Over 14,000,000
Update frequency Weekly

Inspec is a major indexing database of scientific and technical literature, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and formerly by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), one of the IET's forerunners.

Inspec coverage is extensive in the fields of physics, computing, control, and engineering. Its subject coverage includes astronomy, electronics, communications, computers and computing, computer science, control engineering, electrical engineering, information technology, physics, manufacturing, production and mechanical engineering.[1]

Inspec was started in 1967 as an outgrowth of the Science Abstracts service. The electronic records were distributed on magnetic tape. In the 1980s, it was available in the U.S. through the Knowledge Index, a low-priced dial-up version of the Dialog service for individual users, which made it popular.

Access to Inspec is currently by the Internet through Inspec Direct and various resellers.

Print counterparts

Inspec has several print counterparts:[1][2][3]

Computer and Control Abstracts

Computer and Control Abstracts (ISSN 0036-8113 Frequency: 12 per year) covers computers and computing, and information technology.

Electrical and Electronics Abstracts

Electrical and Electronics Abstracts (ISSN 0036-8105 Frequency: 12 per year) covers all topics in telecommunications, electronics, radio, electrical power and optoelectronics. Printed indexes by subject, author and other indexes, and a subject guide are produced twice per year.[4]

Physics Abstracts

Physics Abstracts (ISSN 0036-8091 LCCN 76-646597 Frequency: 24 per year) is an abstracting and indexing service first published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers. It was first circulated as Science Abstracts, volume 1 through volume 5 from 1898 to 1902. From 1903 to 1971 the database had different titles. These closely related names were Science Abstracts. Section A, Physics and Science Abstracts. Section A, Physics Abstracts from volume 6 to volume 74.

By 1972 other societies were associated as authors of this service such as the American Institute of Physics. In 1975 or 1976 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers also became an author. By 1980 this database was also issued as INSPEC-Physics on various formats. It was also available as part of INSPEC database. Presently it is part of Inspec, Section A - Physics database. At the same time, the Physics Abstracts title was employed throughout the 1990s.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Notable editor

The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, with a B.S. degree (physics and mathematics honors) (King's college), was an assistant editor for Physics Abstracts from 1949–1951. This position allowed Clarke to access to "all of the world’s leading scientific journals."[11]

Science Abstracts

The first issue of Science Abstracts was published in January 1898. During that first year, a total of 1,423 abstracts were published at monthly intervals, and at the end of the year an author and subject index were added.[12] The first issue contained 110 abstracts and was divided into 10 sections:

Science Abstracts was the result of a joint collaboration between the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) and The Physical Society of London. The publication was (at that time) provided without charge to all members of both societies. The cost of the publication was mainly borne by the IEE and The Physical Society. Financial contributions were also received from the Institution of Civil Engineers, The Royal Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science

By 1902, the annual number of abstracts published had increased to 2,362. By May 1903 it was decided to split the publication into two parts: A (Physics) and B (Electrical Engineering). This decision allowed the subject's scope to widen, particularly in physics. As a result, this allowed a larger quantity of material to be covered.

Since 1967, electronic access to Science Abstracts has been provided by INSPEC.


  1. 1 2 Description and bibliography for Inspec "Database (catalog)" (Online). University at Buffalo (UB) Libraries. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  2. Online catalog entry. "INSPEC on disc" (Online). Library of Congress. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  3. Online catalog. "Icarus" (Online). Hollis Classic Library. Harvard University. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  4. Electrical & Electronics Abstracts (eea) - Uk. 2011.
  5. Brief description of this database "Physics Abstracts (Pa) - Uk Magazine". Acclaim Subscriptions. 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  6. Biblographic information for this database "Physics abstracts.". Columbia University Libraries. 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
  7. Bibliographic information for Physics Abstracts "Bibliothèque de l'EPFL" (Physics Absracts). École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Library. 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
  8. Science abstracts. Physics abstracts "Online catalog record". Library of Congress. 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
  9. Science abstracts. Series A, Physics abstracts .QC1.P46, Abstracting & Indexing Services (August 23, 2010). "Science Reference Services". U.S. Library of Congress.
  10. Subject headings - Outline of Inspec classification Section A - Physics "Inspec subject coverage" (Science abstracts. Series A, Physics abstracts.). The Institution of Engineering and Technology. 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-06. There are five main subjects covered by the Inspec database: physics; electrical engineering and electronics; computers and control; information technology for business; and mechanical and production engineering
  11. "Arthur C. Clarke" (Biography). IEEE Global History Network. 2010. From 1949 to 1951 he was an assistant editor for Physics Abstracts, published by the Institute of Electrical Engineering, which allowed him to peruse all of the world’s leading scientific journals.
  12. Bibliographic information for this database Physics abstracts. "Database". West Chester University Library. Retrieved 2011-01-07. Supersedes: Science abstracts. Series A, Physics abstracts

External links

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