Search tips for using INSPIRE

Jump to section of interest:

Full listing of search terms

Search basics: Keyword-based vs. free-form

INSPIRE’s custom query parser supports both precise keyword-based searching as well as general Google-like
free-form searching.



searching uses the familiar keyword terms, e.g. author searching “a e cremmer” and affiliation searching “aff ecole normale superieure”.
Free-form (Google-style)




Free-form (Google-style)

e.g. “quark” over any information in the record (title, author, journal, etc.) can be combined with keyword-style searching, e.g. “author:parke”.





Title searching can be done on either individual title words or as a complete phrases using double quotes. Single quote searching performs a substring search. For example, “t ‘fusion‘” finds documents containing “diffusion” or “fusions” in the title. Note that this might give unexpected results when quoting several words.

Author name

Author searching







The flexible and sophisticated SPIRES author searching also works in INSPIRE. You can write author names as either “j ellis” or “ellis, j” and they will give the same result. However, this won’t work if the surname is a compound surname such as “Llewellyn Smith”. In this case, searching should always be done using a comma, that is, in the form “family names, given name”. The search “find a llewellyn Smith” would match authors listed as “Smith, L.” in addition to the desired result. Using a period or full-stop (“.”) has no effect on the search.

To understand how name searching works, consider the following table in a world with four physicists named John R. Ellis, Jane Q. Ellis, Peter James Ellis and Ronald James Ellis.
Including a middle initial will restrict the search to match only on records that also have the middle initial. Including the full given name will restrict the search to match only on the initial or the exact given name. In INSPIRE there
is no difference between the ordering of the initials (“J.R.” vs. “R.J.”).

Search Finds papers with name listed as
j ellis “J. Ellis”, “J.R. Ellis”, “J.Q. Ellis”, “Jane Ellis”, “John Ellis”, “Jane Q. Ellis, “John
R. Ellis”, “P.J. Ellis”, “Peter J. Ellis”, “Peter James Ellis”, “R.J. Ellis”, “Ronald J. Ellis”,
“Ronald James Ellis”
j r ellis “J.R. Ellis”, “John R. Ellis”, “R.J. Ellis”, “Ronald J. Ellis”,
“Ronald James Ellis”
john ellis “J. Ellis”, “J.R. Ellis”, “J.Q. Ellis”, “John Ellis”, “John R. Ellis”, “P.J. Ellis”,
“Peter J. Ellis”, “R.J. Ellis”, “Ronald J. Ellis”, “Ronald James Ellis”
john r ellis “J.R. Ellis”, “John R. Ellis”, “R.J. Ellis”, “Ronald J. Ellis”

The “first-author” search, “fa”, is the author search that can be used to search on the first author exclusively.

The “exact-author” search, “ea”, can be used to search on an author name exactly as it appears in the INSPIRE record. This search demands the use of the comma.

More about author searching

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When you find a paper and click on an author’s name, you will be taken to the author’s publication profile page. Each author profile page is connected to a signature consisting of initials, family name and a number (e.g., j.r.ellis.1 for John Ellis) which can also be used for searching.These pages are created by a program that identifies an author’s identity based on name, co-authors, affiliation and other metadata. For most authors it does quite well. For others, e.g. John Smith, it does less well.

In cases where authors have cleaned their publication lists, using the author publicaton profile page signature for searching will give you the most accurate result.

Search by number of authors

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This keyword is useful for narrowing a search to theoretical papers which typically have less than 5 authors or experimental papers written by the full collaboration. More information on this latter point can be found on our blog post

Logical operators: priority, parentheses and truncation

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Logical operators: and (+), or (|), not (-)


Logical operators can be used as either words or
mathematical symbols and (+), or (|), not (-).
Logical operators: Priority and parentheses


When using several “and”, “or” and “not” operators in one search, operations are grouped together
starting from the right. For example, “a gaiotto or t defect and date 2016” finds all paper either authored by Gaiotto, or published in 2016 and containing “defect” in the title. This order is often not what is intended, so
parentheses can be added to manually control the order of operations. With parentheses, the previous search is the same as “a gaiotto or (t defect and date 2016)”, but is different from the (probably more useful) “(a gaiotto or t
defect) and date 2016”.
Logical operators: using operators and “:” to delineate search terms

Search logic: find papers with author Witten and title Jones.

Search logic: find papers with author name matching “Witten T. Jones”, so assuming nobody has a given name “Witten”, the author name in the paper will be “W. <name starting with T> Jones” or “<name starting with T> W. Jones”.

Search logic: find papers with author name matching “Witten Title Jones”, so assuming nobody has a given name “Witten” or “Title”, the author name in the record will be “W.T. Jones” or “T.W. Jones”.

Search logic: using “:” invokes the indexed keywords and finds papers with author “Witten” and title “Jones”.

The asterisk wildcard can be used anywhere in the search term, as we have done in this example in the search for papers by O’Raifeartaigh.

Searches that become too general, e.g. “find t a*” will probably time out.


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To find a particular article, use the journal name, the volume (including letter) and the first page number (or article ID)




You can also search on all articles in a journal.

Searching for journals in INSPIRE requires using the standard short form of the journal name, e.g., “Phys.Rev.”.
Search for a given volume series

To search for a specific volume, use the search term “vol”.


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Date searching can be somewhat imprecise because the date could be the date the paper first appeared or the date of publication in a journal (including any possible errata). To search on the date a paper first appeared, use “de” (date-earliest). To search on the year of publication in a journal, use “jy” (journal-year).All dates must be in the ISO format, yyyy(-mm(-dd)), e.g. “2003”, “2003-06”, “2003-06-27”. Dates such as “today”, “yesterday”, “last month” (exactly one month from today) and “this month” (same as today) also work.Date searches using < or >, e.g. “find de > 2000”, will assume the earliest possible day and actually search “find de > 2000-01-01”.To limit your search to the date a paper first appeared (that is, the earliest date on the INSPIRE record), use “de” (date-earliest).There are also keywords for date-added (da or dadd) and date-updated (du dupd).


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Eprint numbers may be written with or without “arXiv:”.

You can search on eprint type using primarch (primary archive, as opposed to cross-lists).

Report number

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You can use either the full report number or a truncated form.


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A texkey in INSPIRE is a record key used for LaTeX and BibTeX display.

See the FAQ on how to find the texkey for each record.

You can use either the full texkey or a partial texkey with a wild card.


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Searches can be performed using the collaboration name.

Using author-count, “ac” described above can help narrow the result set to the full-collaboration papers (and exclude conference papers).

More information on experiments in INSPIRE can be found in the Experiments database. Including a full tally of publications.


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Use the exact form of an institution name as found in the Institutions database to find papers from a particular institution, as shown in the first example.This institutions database also contains detailed information on institutions including a tally of publications.

Conference papers

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More information on searching for conference notes from experimental collaborations can be found on our blog post of December 2012.

Search for papers from a particular conference. You can also start in the Conferences collection.

Citation count:

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You can search for papers with any number of citations using the search term “topcite”.

Any number of citations can be searched on. You can also search a range such as topcite 60->173.

Calculating the h-index

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You can type in any search and toggle the Show Citation Summary switch. The h-index will be displayed.

Articles that refer to a particular paper or author

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S.J. Parke papers citing author Witten

Note that this search requires the use of the author ID forms of the names of Parke and Witten.

Papers citing paper 1262571.
“Refersto” can be a useful tool for finding recent citations to your work. Be aware that the refersto operator finds the number of papers citing a given set of papers. This is not the same as counting the total number of citations to those papers. The refersto result includes papers citing multiple papers within the target set, and lists those only once. If you want the traditional count of total citations summed over a set of papers, use the citesummary format, as described above.

Document-Type / Type-Code

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Conference paper

work concerning HEP



experimental note

Published (in a refereed journal)

collected volume of a conference proceedings


This information is also available in the facets on the left hand side of an INSPIRE result page.


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INSPIRE displays links to datasets from HEPData. The papers with associated datasets can be found using the “external_system_identifiers” search.


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The fulltext searching can be done on literature records that have files available on INSPIRE. This returns results based on the contents of the file (e.g. pdf).


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The facets on the left hand side of any INSPIRE search result allow one to easily narrow the search by many of the features described on this page:

  1. Number of authors
  2. Whether or not to include editions of the PDG RPP
  3. Document Type / Type Code
  4. Author
  5. Subject
  6. arXiv category (including cross-lists)
  7. Collaboration

Query parser, ElasticSearch and our API

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Any search command can be analyzed to verify that advanced searches are interpreted as intended.
While, generally speaking, no support is provided for interpreting these responses, a well founded bug
report to the feedback form is the exception. (See our contact page if you have trouble accessing the form)

More information about the inner workings of INSPIRE’s search function, including ElasticSearch,
can be found in our INSPIRE REST API documentation.

If you have questions or comments about these searches or if there is anything you would like to see added to this help page, contact us.

Updated 2021-06-23

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