Skip to Main Content

CHEM 408 - Chemistry Topics - Martin Walker - Fall 2023: CHEM 408


Carol Franck
267 - 3310

Course Documents

Introduction and Welcome

Chemistry Topics Library Sessions

  • The library classes focus on use of the chemical literature, including the major search tools.
  • The classes are held in the library classroom in Crumb 204,
  • Outline of the library classes:
    • Sept. 12 Class 1: Following a Citation Trail ("known item searching")
    • Sept. 26 Class 2: Using Chemistry Article search tools (search by topic)

The Research Process Applied to Chemistry - Session 2

Topic Analysis

  • What do you know about your topic now?  What are your critical search terms?
  • Does it fit into a broader general category?  What subdiscipline of Chemistry is it part of?
  • Are there significant narrower aspects? 
  • Are there related aspects such as associated substances, techniques, etc?
  • What initial search vocabulary did you come up with?  Think synonyms and related ideas to generate additional keywords.

The library session focus is seaching for scholarly articles, particularly those from our subscription databases which cover material you will NOT find on the free web.  

What to Do:

  • On the Library Home Page, click the link for "Choose Databases by Subject and Type"
  • Pick "Chemistry" from the subjects drop down box, and "articles" from the database types drop down box.
  • Use the three "best bet" databases (ACS, ScienceDirect and SpringerLink)
  • All of these databases are set to work mainly by keyword searching (as opposed to structured field searching)
  • Also take a look at PubMed.  This is freely available AFTER you graduate, though the links into our other databases won't be.  This database is especially useful if your topic is related to medicine or the human body.
  • Be sure you have an interlibrary loan account as you will likely need to ILL some articles

Research Process

The research process involves four steps:

1.  Topic Analysis

  • development of a research question which matches the scope of the project (may include background research)
  • consideration of information needed relative to the scope of the project
  • brainstorming of initial vocabulary for searching including synonyms, related terms and variant terms

2.  Resource Types/Selection of an appropriate search tool

  • consideration of what types of information are needed and what format they might take.  For example:
    • Books/Book Chapters
    • Articles from Specialized Encyclopedias
    • Articles from Periodicals
      • Newspaper
      • Magazine
      • Scholarly Journal
    • Patents
    • Chemical Structures/Formulary
  • determination of which search tool will locate the desired information
  • Note: using pre-compiled lists related to your research interest, e.g. a bibliography at the end of an article, can be an excellent starting point.

3.  Searching a database

  • Understanding of Databases/Records/Fields/Data
  • Understanding of how the search terms you enter are manipulated to match the data and generate results
  • Skill set of search techniqes such as Boolean operaters and connectors (AND/OR/NOT), adjacency operators (W/#), phrase searching (" "), wildcard/truncation characters (*)
  • Understanding of how the results lists are presented (by relevancy, date, alphabetical...)
  • Ability to manipulate the results list (limiting by date, language, journal source, etc)

4.  Physically/Electronically obtaining items

  • For articles, use of ArticleLinker
  • For books or articles only available in paper, knowledge of the Library of Congress Call number system
  • For items not immediately available, understanding the Interlibrary Loan system

Getting and Citing your Articles using ACS style - Session 1

Getting your Articles:

  • If you have a citation, AND it is for an article, then
    1. Use the Search For Journals by Title tool to see if any of our online services have that journal for the date you need or if we have it in paper form.
    2. If we don't seem to have it, make sure you are searching with the complete journal title, not the abbreviated title (Use the CASSI-Journal Abbreviation Search Tool to figure out the full title - you will need this for interlibrary loan if we do not have access)
    3. If we don't have immediate access, then check Google Scholar for a free web copy (unlikely, but still preferred by students)
    4. If there is no access, then submit an InterLibrary Loan.
  • If you have just the citation, AND it is for a book or book chapter, then
    • Use WorldCat to determine who has the book (not the chapter), and use the interlibrary loan link built into Worldcat to get the book
    • Pay attention to editions and languages.

Citing your Articles:

  • Use the links to the left on this page to help create your citations
  • Ask for help if you are confused


Citation Trails and Other Search tools


Find United States patents by searching at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Use Google Patent search to include european and select other countries. 

What papers have cited your reference? (going forward in time)

1)  Use Scopus or Web of Science to do a formal citation search (we have neither.  Clarkson has Scopus)

2)  Use the poor-man’s free version by checking Google Scholar

Other Things to Talk About

Locating information on Chemical Substances

  • Chem Spider et al.

Open Access, paywalls, and access to scholarly information in the future

STN easy and access to Chemical Abstracts


Crumb Library: 315-267-2485
Crane Library: 315-267-2451

Text Us!: 315-277-3730

Social Media

College Libraries


SUNY Potsdam College Libraries
44 Pierrepont Ave
Potsdam, NY 13676