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CHEM 3123 Organic Chemistry (BA): Find Articles

Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed vs. Popular/Trade

While Wikipedia can sometimes be a good starting point, it is not considered "scholarly."  If you are you having trouble distinguishing between the peer-reviewed/scholarly journals from the trade publication or popular magazines, Below is a link to a document that will help explain the differences.  


It is also important to be able to distinguish between review articles and research articles. A review article’s primary purpose is not to present new research, but to summarize, analyze, discuss, and provide an overview of previously published work on a topic. A research article is designed to present new research, methods, and/or findings. Research articles often employ the IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Research, and Discussion) format. Below are a few articles of interest on this topic.

Suggested Keywords

One of the first steps in creating a research plan is to select "key words" which best describe the topic you plan to research.

If you are unfamiliar with the terminology you encounter while searching article databases (or while reading articles in journals) you may wish to refer to sources such as textbooks, dictionaries, and other reference resource in the field of study.  Contact your instructor if you are unsure if a particular topic is appropriate. It is usually wise to make sure you are on target with your topic before you begin to spend much time researching a project.

Here is a short list of some possible terms (be sure to scroll down for additional terms).  Use the following terms individually or in combination with one another:

  • "absolute zero"
  • acucracy
  • acid
  • "acid anhydride"
  • "acid dissociation constant"
  • actinides
  • "activated complex"
  • "activation energy"
  • "activity series"
  • "actual yield"
  • "addition reaction"
  • aeration
  • "alkali metals"
  • "alkaline earth metals"
  • allomer
  • allotropy
  • anion
  • anode
  • aromaticity
  • atom
  • "atomic mass unit"
  • "atomic number"
  • "atomic orbital"
  • "atomic radius"
  • "average atomic mass"
  • "Avogadro's law"
  • "Avogadro's number"
  • barometer
  • base
  • biochemistry
  • boiling
  • "boiling point"
  • "boiling-point elevation"
  • bond
  • "Boyle's law"
  • "Brønsted-Lowry acid"
  • "Brønsted-Lowry acid-base reaction"
  • "Brønsted-Lowry base"
  • "buffered solution"
  • burette
  • catalyst
  • cation
  • centrifuge
  • "cell potential"
  • "chemical law"
  • "chemical reaction"
  • colloid
  • combustion
  • compound
  • condensation
  • conductor
  • "covalent bond"
  • crystal
  • cuvette
  • deionization
  • deliquescence
  • deposition
  • dipole
  • "dipole moment"
  • "dissolution or solvation"
  • "double bond"
  • "earth metal"
  • electrolyte
  • "electrochemical cell"
  • "electromagnetic radiation"
  • electromagnetism
  • "electromotive force"
  • electron
  • "electron shells"
  • "electic charge"
  • element
  • energy
  • enthalpy
  • entropy
  • enzyme
  • "Empirical Formula"
  • "eppendorf tube"
  • freezing
  • "Faraday constant"
  • "Faraday's law of electrolysis"
  • frequency
  • "galvanic cell"
  • gas
  • geochemistry
  • "Gibbs energy"
  • halogens
  • heat
  • jodium
  • indicator
  • "inorganic compound"
  • "inorganic chemistry"
  • "International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)"
  • insulator
  • ion
  • "ionic bond"
  • ionization
  • Kinetics
  • "Kinetic energy"
  • lantanides
  • lattice
  • "Laws of thermodynamics"
  • lliquid
  • light
  • "London dispersion forces"
  • Metal
  • melting
  • metalloid
  • "methylene blue"
  • microcentrifuge
  • mole
  • molecule
  • "molecular orbital"
  • neutron
  • neutrino
  • nucleus
  • "noble gases"
  • non-metal
  • nuclear
  • "nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy"
  • "number density"
  • orbital
  • "organic compound"
  • "organic chemistry"
  • pH
  • plasma
  • "poor metal"
  • "potential energy"
  • preicpitate
  • preciison
  • photon
  • proton
  • protonation
  • "Quantum mechanics"
  • quarks
  • radiation
  • "radioactive decay"
  • "Raoult's law"
  • "reactivity series"
  • reagent
  • "s-block elements"
  • salts
  • "salt bridge"
  • "saline solution"
  • "Schrödinger equation"
  • semiconductor
  • "single bond"
  • sol
  • solid
  • solute
  • solution
  • solvent
  • spectroscopy
  • "speed of light"
  • "Standard conditions for temperature and pressure" (SATP)
  • "state of matter"
  • sublimation
  • "subatomic particles"
  • substance
  • talc
  • temperature
  • "theoretical yield"
  • theory
  • "thermal conductivity"
  • thermochemistry
  • thermodynamics
  • "thermodynamic stability"
  • thermometer
  • titration
  • torr
  • "transition metal"
  • "transuranic element"
  • "triple bond"
  • "triple point"
  • "Tyndall effect"
  • "UN number"
  • uncertainty
  • "Uncertainty principle"
  • "unit cell"
  • "unit factor"
  • "universal or ideal gas constant"
  • "valence electron"
  • Valence bond theory"
  • "van der Waals force"
  • "van 't Hoff factor"
  • vapor
  • "vapour pressure"
  • vaporization
  • viscosity
  • volt
  • voltmeter
  • "volumetric analysis"
  • water
  • "wave function"
  • work
  • X-ray
  • "X-ray diffreaction"
  • "X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy"
  • yield
  • "zone melting"
  • Zwitterion

If you have still not come up with the right keywords, check out the IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology (link below).  Or, try some subject terms of your own and don't forget to use some boolean operators (and, or, not -- see the box on "Searching Tips" on this page) to assist you in narrowing or broadening your search.

Useful Databases -- Chemistry

Check out these databases if you are looking for scholarly articles.


Below are some databases that will be more relevant/useful for the "sciences."  Be sure to "scroll" down through the box to see additional choices.

Searching Tips

There is a lot of content in this box, be sure to scroll down for additional tips/techniques.

  • Be prepared with synonyms for your search terms in case your original search produces limited results.  Use the "Subject Terms" or "Thesaurus" feature for the database you are searching for additional help with finding relevant subjects.
  • Pay attention to any search tips or help screens provided by each database.  Even experienced researchers (like professors and librarians!) can have trouble when dealing with a new interface.  Take the time to learn how to use the tool (database/print resource) -- it will help you to avoid frustration later.
  • Remember that most databases allow for Boolean Searching
  • Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)
    • Use AND to focus your search and combine different aspects of your topic.
      • Example: global warming AND agriculture will return only those articles that contain both terms.
    • Use OR to expand your search and find synonyms/related terms.
      • Example: global warming OR greenhouse effect with return any article that contains either term.
    • Use NOT to exclude a word or phrase from your search.
      • Example: agriculture NOT soybean will return articles on every form of agriculture except soybean.
  • Phrase searching is another useful technique for narrowing a search to retrieve the most relevant results. 
  • Use quotation marks (") to search for an exact phrase.
    • Example: "greenhouse gas emissions" will only return hits on the exact phrase (not the individual words).
  • Wildcard and Truncation are also  useful techniques for expanding a search to retrieve all relevant results.  For example, type
  • Use a question mark (?) or a pound sign (#) to act as wildcard characters.
    • To use the ? wildcard, enter your search terms and replace each unknown character with a ?.
      • Example: ne?t would retrieve articles containing neat, nest, or next.
    • To use the # wildcard, enter the # in places where an alternate spelling may contain an extra character.
      • Example: am#eba would retrieve articles containing ameba or amoeba.
  • Use an asterisk (*) to find variations of a word.  Put an asterisk following the root of a word to find all variations of that word (including singular as well as plural).
    • Example: biolog* will retrieve documents containing the words biology, biological, biologist . . .
  • Grouping/Nesting
  • Use parentheses to assist is grouping like concepts togethers in the search string.
    • Example: saturn NOT (automobile or car) AND gases will return articles on Saturn, the planet, not Saturn the car manufacturer.
  • Proximity Operators
  • You can use a proximity search to search for two or more words that occur within a specified number of words (or fewer) of each other in the databases. Proximity searching is used with a Keyword or Boolean search.
  • The proximity operators are composed of a letter (N or W) and a number (to specify the number of words). The proximity operator is placed between the words that are to be searched, as follows:
  • Near Operator (N) - N5 finds the words if they are within five wordsof one another regardless of the order in which they appear.
  • For example, type tax N5 reform to find results that would match tax reform as well as reform of income tax.
  • Within Operator (W) - In the following example, W8 finds the words if they are within eight words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.
  • For example, type tax W8 reform to find results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.
  • In addition, multiple terms can be used on either side of the operator. See the following examples:
  • (baseball or football or basketball) N5 (teams or players)
  • oil W3 (disaster OR clean-up OR contamination)
  • Contact a subject specialist librarian for help:

If you need a better understanding of Boolean logic and searching, here are a few resources to help:

What is a Literature Review

Or, sometimes called a Survey of the Scholarship.

A literature review is a text written by someone to consider the critical points of current knowledge including substantive findings, as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. Literature reviews are secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work. Also, a literature review can be interpreted as a review of an abstract accomplishment.

Most often associated with academic-oriented literature, such as a thesis or peer-reviewed article, a literature review usually precedes a research proposal and results section. Its main goals are to situate the current study within the body of literature and to provide context for the particular reader. Literature reviews are a staple for research in nearly every academic field.

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