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Chemistry 470

A research guide for Chemistry Thesis Students at Reed College

Books & eBooks

Every book the library owns, whether print or online, is available by author, title, LCSH subject heading or keyword in the library catalog.

If a book isn't available in (or from) the library, you can check Summit to see if another library in the network has it available. From the library catalog, use the Reed + Summit option. If another library in the network has the book available, you can either make an electronic request (via the Summit Request link after you log in) and the book will be delivered to the Reed library for you to check out.


Use tips:

  1. The above link will take you to the searchable collection of every book Springer publishes. To get only things Reed owns, unclick the "Include Preview-Only content" button. (See an example)
  2. To broaden your search from just book titles to include book chapter titles, enter your keywords in the search box & hit New Search. When your results appear, select Chapter from the Content Type options on the left-hand side.(Don't forget to limit to what Reed has.)
  3. Once you identify a book that might be of interest, click on the title. From this page, you can browse the table of contents of the book, search the entire book, download a pdf or epub version of the book or a chapter. 
  4. These titles and chapters *should* also come up in a regular Reed catalog search

ProQuest Ebook Central

Use tips:

  1. The advanced search allows you to search titles and full text, limit to a broad subject category, and limit to Reed holdings in one stop. 
  2. Once you identify a title in which you are interested, you can read the text online, print multiple pages, or "checkout" the book to read on your own device using Adobe Digital Editions. What options are available for each title vary from title to title based on what the publisher allows.
  3. If you get stuck with an error message, try refreshing the window Screenshot of ProQuest Ebook Central online view of Reconceiving the Gene: Seymour Benzer's Adventures in Phage Genetics

Oxford Scholarship Online

Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO) is an online library offering access to thousands of academic works from the celebrated scholary list of Oxford University Press. OSO covers subjects across the humanities, social sciences, sciences, medicine, and law.

Use tips:

  1. Once you complete a search, be sure to use the Availability option to limit your results to Unlocked, Free, or Open Access.
  2. You can view each chapter online or download a pdf.
  3. In addition to searching author, title or keyword in full text, using the advanced search you can also limit your search to figure or table captions.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

If the article is not available from the Reed Library, your next step is to use Interlibrary loan (ILL).

ILL is a process of requesting an item from a different library, providing you access to that article for free. Most requests are fulfilled quickly and are available, and emailed to you as a PDF. Book requests will be available to pick up at the library.


Background Research

A quick survey of the literature will help you get a sense of what has been done before, what questions you need to answer & how you should go about conducting your research. This survey will give you a good foundation for when you begin your research, including terminology and methodology. It could also help you explore new topics as your thesis evolves.

1. Chemistry News


2. Reviews

Review publications contain articles that review the research already done in a given area. A review article can give you critical retrospective of a particular topic, and provide you with an extensive bibliography.

To identify review articles, most databases allow you to search by article type (review) or limit your search to reviews. Reed Library also subscribes to annual reviews and review journals. You can browse the annual reviews by title, or you can search by topic.


3. Theses

Many student projects are based on previous projects, so using older theses may be a good way to begin your research. It is worth noting that it is best not to copy the style or format of previous theses unless suggested by your faculty.

If you don't already know of a thesis on your topic, you can check the Chemistry Thesis List or search the catalog or the eTheses collection.

Asking questions

According to ACS Ethical Guidelines for authors:

"An author is obligated to perform a literature search to find, and then cite, the original publications that describe closely related work." (ACS, Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research, p. 2)

A literature search, much like lab work, usually goes better if you have thought about what you want to accomplish. This includes first determining what questions you need to answer from the literature, and then using information you have already gleaned to come up with a list of keywords, and then a search strategy. You also need to consider which databases are appropriate for your research.

Chapter 3, "Search Strategy", of Maizell's How to Find Chemical Information (Ref QD 8.5 M34 1998), lists 24 questions that you should ask yourself about your research. I won't recount them here (you should really read the chapter), but I will list a few I feel are important:

  • What is the goal of my research? What do I need to do to reach this goal?
  • What do I already know? (Maizell says, "What information do I already have on hand?")
  • What do I still need to learn?
  • Why is what I am researching important?
  • Has my project been done before? If so, how? What new spin can I put on it?
  • What techniques/methods/tools/compounds are used? What do I need to know about them?

The answers to these questions will help you as you are planning the research process.