The large volume of research in astronomy and related fields published every year makes it difficult to keep up. The Astrophysics Data System (ADS) is a digital portal containing bibliographic information on more than 13 million publications in astronomy, astrophysics, and physics. In addition to full abstracts and links to published works, ADS maintains a list of citations for the publications, with full text searches available for many. The databases also catalog experimental and observational datasets,with links to research data and software hosted by other scholarly archives. ADS is operated by the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian under a grant from NASA.
With a large number of scientific journals ranging from general science to small subfields, it’s impossible for researchers or libraries to subscribe to each one. The website arXiv.org publishes preprint versions of articles, but not all scientists submit their work to it. ADS acts as a cross-disciplinary and multiple-source bibliography service, allowing researchers to look for articles, software, and data products from a wide range of sources.
The service includes complete abstracts and bibliographic information provided by the journals themselves, and links to the full text on arXiv.org or other sites where available. ADS also hosts over 600,000 historical documents, dating back to the 19th century. Users can search for titles, authors, and terms within the full texts with the built-in search engine.
The first version of ADS was introduced in 1988, predating the widespread public use of the internet. The service grew with the World Wide Web in the 1990s, expanding its coverage as more scientific journals increased electronic publication. The most recent version of the system was implemented in 2018, and includes resources in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, and information science. Most astronomers and physicists worldwide publish in journals included in ADS, making the service a very useful resource for tracking research trends in these fields.