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Hilton C. Buley Library


Chemistry: Journal Articles

How to find information on all aspects of chemistry: "A couple of months in the laboratory can save a couple of hours in the library."-Frank H. Westheimer, chemistry professor (1912-2007)

Finding Journal Articles

Databases are the primary way of finding journal articles. Databases consist of indexes which list information about the articles such as author, title, journal information, and subject(s). Sometimes abstracts, or summaries, are included. Some databases also have the full text of the articles, in which case you can also search for keywords in the text. When the full text of an article is not available in the database, use the journal finder/Journal Title Search to find full text, search the library catalog for the journal, or request the article through Interlibrary Loan. A list of Chemistry journals available through the library is available through the journal finder Subject Search.

Peer-reviewed, refereed, or scholarly journals have articles that have been reviewed by experts in the field. Not all articles in peer-reviewed journals are reviewed, however. Some may be news, opinion, or short reports. Many databases are either all peer-reviewed journals or have a check box to limit a search to just peer-reviewed journals (not articles).

Tracking down articles: Often you may have a citation or reference to an article. You can look the journal title up in our Journal Finder, but often the titles are abbreviated. Check these sources for the full titles:

Which words

How do you choose search words? Here are a few ideas for searching in the sciences:

Concepts, Methods, and Techniques:

Search for concepts, including methods and techniques, in any keyword search. In general, avoid searching for concepts in the Full Text of an article (stick to titles, abstracts, or keywords). Concepts represented by multiple words can be searched as phrases in many databases by using quotes: "organic chemistry". If there are multiple terms used for similar topics, search these as separate searches or using the Boolean OR if available. Connect separate concepts with Boolean AND to restrict your search to articles with both concepts. Be sure to check for additional Subject Terms and Descriptors in the best results. Use those terms for further searches.


The specific names of chemicals can be used as searches, but in many cases there are alternate names. If possible, use a search that covers the Abstract, not just the article title, and use the Boolean "OR" between synonyms. The CAS number (CAS-RN) is generally considered to be the ID number for most chemicals and can often be searched specifically in chemistry-specific databases.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is Google's version of a library database. Google Scholar searches publishers' websites, academic sites (.edu), and other "scholarly" resources. Some of our own databases are covered, so you can use Google Scholar to search ScienceDirect, JSTOR, BioOne, and many publishers all at the same time. However, many of the articles are not available directly to non-subscribers. By downloading the library toolbar or adding SCSU/Buley Library to Scholar's Preferences on your computer, you can access our subscriptions as well as whatever is free on the web. See the Guide to Google Scholar for instructions on setting up the toolbar or the preferences, and for search tips.

Google Scholar Search

Current Awareness Tools

You can also use Current Awareness tools to find out about articles and research being done. These are magazines, journals, and websites that summarize current research (and give references to the full papers.) Try browsing or searching in the resources listed below, then look for phrases like "as reported in the April 9 Nature" or a citation at the end of the article. Use the journal finder to find if we have the full text of the article available.

Subject Specific Databases

Chemistry related topics

If your topic is related to another discipline, you may also want to try databases related to that subject. For instance, for pesticides you might try an agriculture database; for pharmaceuticals, a medical database.

Multidisciplinary Databases

These databases cover many topics, but have selected full text from a variety of chemistry related journals, books, and reports. PhD dissertations and Masters theses are usually great sources for research topic ideas, literature reviews, and methods.

Chemistry Articles Links