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Background Sources

One of the more valuable tools for a student beginning advanced chemistry courses, and especially directed research, is the chemical literature. The chemical literature provides information on the methodology and experimental results of previous and current investigations.

Consideration of published results uncovered in a literature search should aid in planning the new research problem. Moreover, the researcher, by conducting a thorough search of the literature may avoid unnecessary duplication of research which has already been published. Much time and effort can be saved by consulting the chemical literature before the experimental work is started. In general, the chemical literature is used for either

  • gathering data and information for the laboratory (experimental protocols, physical data on compounds, etc), or
  • gathering information to learn about a specific subject or topic.

Generally, chemistry reference books are compendia of information that may be categorized in two groups:

  • physical data (melting/boiling points, spectroscopic data, and other physical properties), or
  • experimental protocols and techniques.

This is where you would go when you are looking for specific data, not to learn information about a subject:

Chemistry: Foundations and Applications. 2004. 4 Vols. (Ref. QD 4 C48 2004)
An overview of the laws, processes and applications of Chemistry and its subdisciplines.

Chemical Information: A Practical Guide to Utilization. 1988. (Ref. QD 8.5 W64 1988)
This guide introduces the chemistry scholar to the appropriate use of chemical literature. It includes overviews of scientific journals, handbooks, databases, and other sources in chemistry.

How to Find Chemical Information. 1998. (Ref. QD 8.5 M34 1998) and E-Book
In addition to to providing an introduction to reference materials, journals, and books in chemistry, this source covers the essentials of Chemical Abstracts. It also provides information on other online systems. This guide provides an overview of modern resources for the chemistry scholar.

Hutchinson Pocket Dictionary of Chemistry. 2004. (E-Book)
Concise definitions of the major concepts in chemistry are provided in this online dictionary.

The Literature Matrix of Chemistry. 1982. (Ref. QD 8.5 S58 1982)
Although dated, this guide provides a useful introduction to classic reference materials in chemistry (e.g., Beilstein's, Houben-Weyl's, Theilheimer's, Merck Index, and Comprehensive Organic Chemistry), journals, and indexes. There is a chapter on the evolution of chemistry literature, which helps place research sources in perspective.

The ACS style guide : effective communication of scientific information. (Ref. QD8.5.A25 2006)
The Third Edition continues its long tradition of providing invaluable insight on ethics in scientific communication, the editorial process, copyright, conventions in chemistry, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and writingfor any STM author, reviewer, or editor. The Third Edition is the definitive source for all information needed to write, review, submit, and edit scholarly and scientific manuscripts.