Subject Guide: Chemistry

A step-by-step approach for finding secondary and primary literature in all areas of Chemistry and related disciplines.

Questions? Please contact me.


 … questions to ask about the information you find; how appropriate and valuable is the information?  A worksheet to go along with the questions.

This is the most important part of any search for information!

Take charge of the information in your life
Seek information, not affirmation
Source + Motivation = Value

Dig deeper–do not rely on just one source
Understanding is key

Primary and Secondary Literature:

Secondary literature looks like this or this …
Primary literature looks like thisthis, or this … (note the format–IntroductionMethodsResultsDiscussionReferences)

How to use and understand primary literature?
Please be aware when searching for information —
Predatory publishers


Research question/understand and define a topic
… what is the question(s) you are trying to answer? These secondary sources can help you —
*topic ideas
*understand concepts
*answer fact questions
*discover search terms, phrases, and names
*focus a research question
Remember, true research is rarely a straight path.
Science Connections
Good sources to help you understand and link to primary literature:
Science News
New Scientist
Scientific American
New York Times
The Washington Post

Review sources:
Science Bibliographies (Strategian)
Annual Reviews
Trends in …
Organic Syntheses
Online procedural manual for the synthesis of organic compounds. Provides detailed descriptions of verified practical methods for the preparation of specific compounds, as well as illustrations of important synthetic methods with general utility.
NIST Chemistry WebBook
National Institute of Standards and Technology; thermochemical, ion energetics, spectra, thermophysical, and other data.


… these sources can help you find evidence to answer your question or validate/invalidate an answer.
OKAY: Google Scholar
Use the “Advanced Search”; can also be used as a tool to focus a broad search (try out search terms, find a possibility, search that possibility in a disciplinary database, and then use the indexing to more precisely find additional papers).
BETTER: Science Primary Literature 
Includes articles, book chapters, and images that have been used and cited by multiple college students and have been highly cited in the scientific literature. Links to full text are provided; some full text is directly available.
Database help
About PubChem; “find chemical information from authoritative sources.”
Chemistry class session (video) — using SciFinder to search Chemical Abstracts and Medline
Before 1000 BCE to the present. Catalog of millions of books, web resources, and other materials held in libraries worldwide, maintained by OCLC.


If the full text is not directly available above, these are the quickest ways to check if you have access to a source —

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