PhySH – Physics Subject Headings

Short Description

PhySH (Physics Subject Headings) is a physics classification scheme developed by the American Physical Society to organize journal, meeting, and other content by topic, available for use starting in January 2016. It is intended initially to meet the specific goals of the APS, while a longer term goal is to make it available for use by the broader community. PhySH consists of hierarchies of concepts grouped into facets: Research Areas, Physical Systems, Properties, Techniques, and Professional Topics. The concepts are also organized by discipline for convenience. Individual concepts may belong to more than one facet or discipline.


Owned/Developed by

  1. Name of Owner: American Physical Socety
  2. Technical Contact:  Arthur Smith, *protected email*
  3. License Contact: Mark Doyle, *protected email*

Adopted (as opposed to owned) by organizations/publishers:
How is this KM applied?

  1. Manually
  2. By Authors and Editorial Staff

How is this KM used?

  1. Classify manuscripts within the APS peer-review process
  2. Help editors in finding similar articles previously submitted and in finding suitable referees

Description of the current use case(s) of the KM

  1. Manuscripts are assigned concepts from PhySH by submitting authors; these assignments are reviewed and may be modified by editors.
  2. For each journal section, relevant concepts are assigned to the most appropriate handling editor who is knowledgeable in that area
  3. Editors can search for other articles on the same or related topics

Description of the future/potential use cases of the KM (not yet realized)

  1. Improve finding relevant content across APS journals, which often have overlapping scopes
  2. Link relevant content from other APS non-journal areas (e.g., meetings)
  3. Map other classification systems (eg. PACS) to PhySH to enable older material to be indexed in the same way
  4. Allow individuals (particularly referees) to identify their areas of expertise
  5. Integrate with other knowledge models – For example, an independent taxonomy for chemical substances or astronomical objects should be relatively easy to append to PhySH.
  6. PhySH concepts have permanent identifiers allowing them to be integrated into the web of linked data.

What are the main goals for using this KM?

  1. Improve the peer-review process for our journals by ensuring the right expertise is applied in reviews (PACS, which was previously used for this, ceased updating in 2010).
  2. Cover all of physics
  3. Improve discovery – Content properly tagged with PhySH is intended to enable new and useful ways to browse and search the content while providing the underpinnings for recommendation systems and other personalized services.

Rationale for KM vs other means of searching and browsing?

  1. By providing a standardized list of “keywords” rather than relying on author-supplied terms or full-text or statistical indexing, we can have a greater assurance that related articles are associated with one another.

Is the KM being actively developed?

  1. Yes, internally – also feedback is welcome, see website for links.

License information:

  1. PhySH is copyrighted with all rights reserved by the American Physical Society. We are still considering what license we would use for any public release of PhySH.