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Chemistry Research: Using Academic Search Complete

tips on searching databases, finding journals from citations, and using Interlibrary Loan services

Search Academic Search Complete

Use the Academic Search Complete search box to find articles from the library's largest full-text article database.

Academic Search Complete
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Academic Search Complete tips

Academic Search Complete is a good place to start searching for articles on almost any topic. It covers all subject areas and indexes over 12,000 journals—including both popular and technical titles. (Its very size and scope makes it important to choose your search terms with care. Don't use popular names for chemicals, for example, if you want to retrieve only technical articles.)

The graphic below shows part of the main search screen for this database. Type your search terms in the boxes (where I typed polymers). It's useful to also check the box labelled Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals. This limitation will help you retrieve scholarly, technical articles instead of news items, for example, containing your terms. 

screen shot

If you want to search multiple databases at once, click on Choose Databases. (see what pops up when you do this in the graphic below)

These are all the databases that you can search at once, if you want to. For chemistry, the best general addition to make is MEDLINE. If you mouse over the little icon by the database name, a bubble like the one shown here will pop up and tell you about that database.


Below is a portion of the screen that appears when you click on a title from your search results list in Academic Search Complete. Take a particular look at the Tools listed on the right of the screen.

You can Add to folder, which is a way of saving references from one search session to another. (You'll need to create a free account with a password to use this feature.) When you're finished, your folder will contain all the references that you chose. Printing, saving and emailing are other options for you, either one-by-one for each article, or in bulk for the items in your folder.

checkIf you click on the Cite tool, a window pops up with various options for citing the article. Choose the appropriate format to cut and paste into your paper's works cited section. (Be sure to check over the citation, though; it's a great tool, but like any automated service, occasionally it can be a little buggy.)

Full-text formats

The full-text articles in Academic Search Complete can appear in several different formats. Some articles even give you a choice of which format to view.

The most common, and the most useful format is PDF. These full-text articles appear much as they would on the printed journal page, complete with images, charts, diagrams, etc.

You might also see HTML Full Text as an option for some articles. This option provides you with the text as it would look on a web page, but usually without print-journal formatting and images.

Another option is Linked Full Text or Full Text from Science Direct, or a similar link. These articles are available to you full-text, but not directly from the Academic Search Complete database. The links will take you to another publisher's web site. Formatting and navigation on these external websites might look different than what you're used to seeing in Academic Search Complete.


Remember that not all articles indexed in Academic Search Complete are available full-text. If you need an article for which the full-text is not available, request it on Interlibrary Loan (ILL) or consult a librarian for assistance.

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