PhySH (Physics Subject Headings) is a physics classification scheme developed by the American Physical Society to organize journal, meeting, and other content by topic. The development of PhySH is motivated by the lack of a fully open, high quality classification scheme for physics. It is intended initially to meet the specific goals of the APS for our journal, meeting, and other content. A longer term goal is to make it available for use by the broader community.
As explained below, PhySH consists of concepts used to label entities such as journal articles. At the top level, concepts are organized along two dimensions:
Physical Systems, etc.) and
Disciplines. In addition, the concepts are linked to each other in a flexible hierarchy reflecting the broader/narrower relationships among them. Relationships can also span across the hierarchies to identify related concepts.
The infographic on the PhySH homepage shows the general relationship among concepts, disciplines, and facets. Browse PhySH to see how it is organized in detail; a search capability is also incorporated in the browse page.
PhySH is designed to evolve over time, and we encourage the community to help us keep PhySH up to date. Please use the Contribute link at the top of the page.
Authors submitting to APS journals should consult these guidelines.
APS undertook the development of PhySH to achieve the following goals:
The above goals have guided the design and implementation of PhySH as a faceted classification scheme in which concepts grouped into a flexible hierarchy (each concept belong to more than one facet). Furthermore, each concept is assigned to one or more disciplines, which aid in filtering and searching the full scheme.
Concepts are assigned to one or more facets according to the role(s) they currently most commonly serve. If a particular concept is commonly used as, for example, a technique in one discipline but an active area of research in another, then it may be represented as both a
Research Area and a
Technique. See for example
Up to now, the main use of PhySH has been to classify manuscripts within the APS peer-review process and in our published journal articles. The assigned concepts are used to ensure articles are routed to the most appropriate handling editor who is knowledgeable in that area. They also help editors in finding similar articles previously submitted and in finding suitable referees.
The identified facets and disciplines and roughly 3,000 concepts were added to PhySH through an iterative process over several years. Many APS journal editors were involved in this process, lending their expertise in the various subfields in physics. We have also made adjustments in response to suggestions from authors using PhySH to classify their submissions, and suggestions from other outside contributors. Once the pace of change had slowed sufficiently we felt the time was right for a public release.
The name PhySH is in analogy to MeSH-Medical Subject Headings, the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary thesaurus.