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It's important to have a good broad understanding of your topic before you start looking for specific information. The sources in the boxes below can give you an overview of your subject and help you refine your research strategy and find useful terms to use in searches.
Doing research in any field will always reveal unexpected complexities and facets of the topic at hand. Get a head start on the complications that will come up by using the library resources on this page.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
Chemistry: Foundations & Applications by
Publication Date: 2004
1,154 pages. 4 volumes. Covering chemistry, its laws, processes, applications and subdisciplines, this four-volume set also reviews the history of the field, from the Bronze Age and alchemy up to modern research and practical applications. Along with biographies of scientists past and present, "Chemistry's topics examine and explain the role chemistry plays in the various aspects of everyday life. Includes information about chemistry's many branches, including inorganic, industrial, atmospheric and computational chemistry, and biotechnology.
Here are a few encyclopedias specifically related to chemistry included in the Gale Virtual Reference collection. These indexes also cover many related reference books in the general sciences, biology, physics, environmental studies, etc. The best strategy is to put your search term in one of the boxes above, rather than searching only in a particular reference.
Chemical Compounds by
Publication Date: 2006
888 pages. 3 volumes. Offers information on the ways in which different chemical elements combine to form commonly-used chemical compounds. Defines what a chemical compound actually is and the difference between organic and inorganic compounds, as well as providing definitions of acids, bases, salts, oxides, and coordination compounds. Features a general historical overview of major discoveries and the notable scientists who made them.
Chemical Elements. 2nd edition. by
Publication Date: 2010
1,003 pages. 3 volumes. Provides in-depth information on 112 known chemical elements, plus coverage of recently discovered elements 113 through 116 and 118.
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Printed reference sources
Even in the world of expanding online information sources, sometimes it's easier to look up information in a print reference book. Two major print resources for chemistry, shelved in the Library's Reference area, on the 1st floor, are:
- CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. REF QD 65 .H3. This is the standard reference for basic formulas and other information in the physical sciences.
- Merck Index. REF RS 51 .M4. Covers chemicals especially as related to their use in drugs and biologicals.
Some other reference titles that might be useful in chemistry research (also in the Reference area):
- A to Z of Chemists. REF QD 21 .O34 2002
- Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary. QD 5 .C5 2007
- Macmillan Encyclopedia of Chemistry. REF QD 4 .M33 1997
This guide was originally developed by retired librarian Kathy Amen.
Guides & compilations
The Blume Library website offers research guides and compilations of resources like databases that can save your research time. Here are some selected resources:
Free online resources
The folks at AcademicEarth have compiled the following listings of free online chemistry courses, selected by their experts as being some of the best on the web. The site also includes links to their favorite blogs and to important professional organizations. Note that the journals they reference, while being the most important ones in the field, might not be freely accessible.
The government provides many free databases related to chemistry. You can find some here: