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CHEM 195: Research Practices in Chemistry

Tutorial on understanding the chemical literature for CHEM 195

Primary, secondary and tertiary sources diagram at

Click to see a larger version. This diagram, "Scientific Literature" by K. Subramanyam (p.394) originated from Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (New York, 1979, Allan Kent and Harold Lancour, eds.).  See another copy of the diagram.

Types of STEM Literature

Different forms of research literature meet differing needs.  A general chemistry textbook provides a wealth of information, but it will not help with characterization of this year’s flu strains. To learn more about these kinds of resources, watch this tutorial (right click to open it in a new tab) on types of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) literature (or see link below for transcript) from NCSU Libraries (created by W&M graduate and former W&M science librarian, Kristy Borda). (NOTE: W&M doesn’t have access to all of the databases mentioned but we do have IEEExplore, Scifinder-n, and Scopus instead of Web of Science.)

NOTE: When you’re starting your research, looking at the recent secondary and tertiary literature can help you before diving into the primary article literature!

Types of STEM Literature

Other Resources (optional) - Types of STEM Literature

Other Resources (optional)

  • Just like Strunk and White or the APA style guide, the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication is the standard stylistic reference in the chemistry literature.  You will refer to it frequently. 
  • Researching in the Sciences - video by UNC Libraries
  • Need a refresher on the idea of scholarship as a conversation? Rewatch this tutorial from College Studies and these tutorials on some ways of thinking about information
  • Need a refresher on W&M Libraries and information literacy in general, including the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary literature? See our W&M Libraries’ tutorials
  • Need a refresher on peer review? Watch this video
  • Interested in chemistry preprints? Check out ChemRxiv (though remember these haven't been peer -reviewed yet; cite them with caution and evaluate them carefully)

Mini-Quizzes (optional)

Mini-Quizzes (optional): CHEM 195 students - Want to check your understanding? Complete the optional mini-quizzes on Blackboard.