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