CHEM 4210: Resources for Senior Seminar Research

Selecting a Topic

Places to look for seminar topics include:

Accounts of Chemical Research

Chemical and Engineering News (feature articles)

Chemical Reviews

Analytical Chemistry (feature articles)

Science (2007-2013 print issues are available in the library)

Once you have selected a topic that interest you, you need to find research articles on that topic. There are two main ways to do this.

You can use the citations listed in the references to find the articles cited and use those articles for your research (see Retrieving an Article from a Citation below). Many of these are probably original research articles (see Evaluating your sources below).

The other thing you can do is use this article to learn about the topic, then search for other research articles on the topic. From this article you can determine what your topic is and what keywords you can use to find articles on the topic (see Search Strategies & Skills, below, to learn how to use keywords effectively).


Search Strategies & Skills

Mapping Your Topic

Constructing a Search Statement

Search Tips: Boolean Operators and More

Databases are the best way to search for research articles on your topic.

The Chemistry Subject & Course Guide lists chemistry specific database, as well as more general databases.


Evaluating Your Sources

What is a primary research article? 

A primary research article reports on the original research and findings of the authors. Primary research articles have the following sections:

Introduction/Literature Review

What is a secondary research article?

A secondary research article reviews, summarizes, and discusses topics of interest. The research is not original, rather the authors look at other existing research articles on the topic. Secondary articles are useful for learning about a topic of interest and gaining a better understanding at the overall scope or limitations of the research on that topic.

What is a peer-reviewed journal?

VSU Peer Review Guide

Some databases allow you to limit your search to Peer Reviewed or Refereed articles. Often, you can click on the Journal title and get information about the journal in a database, including if it is peer-reviewed.

You can also check to see if a journal is peer-reviewed using Ulrich’s, a directory of all journals, magazines, news, and any other periodically-released resource. Type the journal title in the search box (leave off A, The, An, etc. at the start of the tile) and either hit "Enter" or click on the search button (green magnifying glass).

Find your title in the search results and click on it to see the record. Look for “Refereed” and “Yes.” If you do not see “Refereed” in the Basic Description column, it is not. Refereed is the same as peer-reviewed.

Evaluating Journal Articles

Scholarly Journals vs. Trade Magazines vs. Popular Magazines


Retrieving the Articles

Getting Electronic Journal Articles Full Text (Odum Library Guide)

Locating bound & current print journals in Odum Library:

Bound periodicals are located on the 1st floor of Odum Library. Current periodicals are located on the 1st floor of Odum Library, on the other side of the building (closest to the Internet Cafe).  Don't forget to lift up the shelf if you are looking for previous months' issues.

Use ILL- Odum Express to request articles, or books, not owned by Odum Library.

Retrieving an Article from a Citation

Is the citation complete? If the journal title is abbreviated you need to find the full journal title. You can look in the ACS Style Guide for a list of frequent journal title abbreviations, or try searching the abbreviation on Google. If you have difficulty, ask a librarian for help.

Does the library have the journal online? Go to the Journals tab on the library home page and search for your journal title in the upper search box. If the article is available full text online you can download and save the PDF.

If the article is not available online, check to see if the library has a print copy. Go to the Journals tab on the library home page and search for your journal title in the lower search box. If the article is in the library you can photocopy it.

If the article is not available in print or online, you can request a copy via ILL. The ILL staff do appreciate having the full unabbreviated journal title, if you know what it is. ILL can take up to two weeks, do not wait until the last minute!

Requesting Books & Articles not Available at Odum Library

Use Interlibrary Loan (ILL) to request books and articles that Odum Library does not have.


Asking for Help

Have a Question? Need Help? Asking a librarian is easy with Live Chat!

Live Chat: Chat with, text, or call a VSU Librarian, email us your questions after hours, or schedule an In-Depth Research Appointment with a librarian.