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Chemistry: Reference Works

Guide for Library Research in Chemistry

Why Reference Works?

Reference works are an excellent first stop in your research and are incredibly useful for the following:

  • Getting an overview of a topic
  • Finding physical or chemical data
  • Getting ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
  • Brainstorming keywords for searching and learning the vocabulary used by authors in that area
  • Discovering the key works on a given topic
  • Discovering the key authors on a given topic
  • Getting biographical information on key figures related to your topic

Online Resources

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias provide excellent background/overview information and are an excellent place to begin research. They contain articles written by experts for a somewhat more general audience. They provide indexes indicating scope of coverage of a topic and point to articles in which a concept will be discussed. They also provide bibliographies for further reading.