Salisbury University Libraries


Holloway Hall

Chemistry 403/413 - Seminar - Module 3a

Blackwell Resources for Research

-Part A-

When you start to search for information, you will need to first understand both the information sources and the search tools that you have to choose from.  Online library catalogs, journal article databases, electronic books or e-journals, and independent web search engines - they're all geared towards finding specific types of information.  As such the search tool that you chose to use should ultimately be geared towards the information (type) you need to find. 

In Part A of this module, I'll review the databases that the library provides and recommends when looking for chemical information, and how these databases differ from the independent search engines that are everywhere on the web.  Part B of this module will cover our E-Book and E-Journal holdings, and lastly will discuss how to search for monographic (book) holdings within Blackwell Library's collection.

While there are certainly a ton of independent web search engines out there (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.), bear in mind that the Blackwell-purchased databases have been chosen specifically to support the classes taught at Salisbury.  They contain resources that have been selected, organized, and indexed by experts in the field and as such are easy to search.  Also they provide valid and scientific articles as search results, all of which will greatly contribute towards your academic success. 


Recommended Databases for Searching Chemical Literature

American Chemical Society Journals: (on-campus link)
The Publications Division of the American Chemical Society provides the worldwide scientific community with a comprehensive collection of the most-cited, peer-reviewed journals in the chemical and related sciences.

ACS Publications publishes more than 35 journals, Chemical & Engineering News, ACS Legacy Archives, and the ACS Symposium Series via its award-winning web-based platform. ACS journals are #1 in citations or Impact Factor in the seven core chemistry categories as well as eight additional categories.

BioMed Central: (on-campus link)
BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model.
  All original research articles published by BioMed Central are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication. BioMed Central views open access to research as essential in order to ensure the rapid and efficient communication of research findings.   BioMed Central provides all content/open access searching of the following biochemistry-related journals:

  • BMC Biochemistry   
  • BMC Structural Biology   
  • Cell Communication and Signaling   
  • Cell Division   
  • Chemistry Central Journal   
  • Nutrition & Metabolism   
  • PMC Biophysics   
  • Proteome Science   
  • Silence


MEDLINE: (on-campus link)
Created by the National Library of Medicine, MEDLINE uses MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) indexing with tree, tree hierarchy, subheadings and explosion capabilities to search citations from over 4,800 current biomedical journals.  MEDLINE provides authoritative medical information on medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, pre-clinical sciences, and much more.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: (on-campus link)
PNAS is one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. Since its establishment in 1914, it continues to publish cutting-edge research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy. Coverage in PNAS spans the biological, physical, and social sciences. PNAS is published weekly in print, and daily online in PNAS Early Edition.


Science Direct: (on-campus link)
ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters from more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and more than 11,000 books. There are currently more than 9.5 million articles/chapters, a content base that is growing at a rate of almost 0.5 million additions per year.  Elsevier has digitized as much of the pre 1995 journal owned-content as possible, bringing articles from as far back as 1823 (The Lancet) to the desktop.


Web of Science:  (on-campus link)
Web of Science consists of seven databases containing information gathered from thousands of scholarly journals, books, book series, reports, conferences, and more.  The first three citation databases contain the references cited by the authors of the articles. You can use these references to do cited reference searching. This type of search allows you to find articles that cite a previously published work.

The two conference proceedings citation indexes include the published literature of the most significant conferences, symposia, seminars, colloquia, workshops, and conventions in a wide range of disciplines. Use these databases to track emerging ideas and new research in specific fields.

The two chemistry databases allow you to create structure drawings to find chemical compounds and reactions. You can also search these databases for compound and reaction data.


How These Databases Differ From Free Sites

Search engines such as Google most certainly have their place in the world of research - just not in the research that you need to be doing for your Chemistry assignments.  A Google search on "nuclear energy" , for example, will get you tons and tons of information.  The slick (super-secret, copyrighted, patented, highly-guarded) Google algorithm that provides you with your search result will most certainly work well, providing you with a  Wikipedia page first and foremost - giving you a decent amount of information on what nuclear energy is.  Next it will give you a nuclear industry lobbying firm, talking about clean, safe nuclear energy that isn't nearly as polluting or harmful as fossil-fuel sources of energy.  Third you get a U.S Department of Energy juvenile-focused site that would work for your kid cousin who needs a quickie colouring page to keep them occupied while the waitress brings dinner. 

However to get a true sense of what "nuclear energy" means to the United States - both in the past, current, and future sense - you've got to wade through three or four pages of search results to get the full picture.  And who has the time or motivation for that? 

Using a Blackwell-Library provided database to search in, you can get balanced, educated articles written by experts in the field each and every time you search.  In the JSTOR journal-article database, a search on the term "nuclear energy" gets you the following five search results: 

  • The Political Construction of the Nuclear Energy Issue and Its Impact on the Mobilization of Anti-Nuclear Movements in Western Europe.  By Ruud Koopmans, Jan Willem Duyvendak.  In:  Social Problems, Vol. 42, No. 2 (May, 1995), pp. 235-251.
  • The Promise of Nuclear Energy.  By James T. Ramey  In:  Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 410, The Energy Crisis: Reality or Myth (Nov., 1973), pp. 11-23.

  • Sociologists Should Reconsider Nuclear Energy.  By Otis Dudley Duncan.  In:  Social Forces, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Sep., 1978), pp. 1-22.
  • Elite Ideology and Risk Perception in Nuclear Energy Policy.  By Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter  In:  The American Political Science Review, Vol. 81, No. 2 (Jun., 1987), pp. 383-404.
  •  The Dissemination of Geographical Findings on Nuclear Power.  By Martin J. Pasqualetti.  In:  Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 11, No. 3 (1986), pp. 326-336.


Right from the beginning, the difference and value between the Google search and the JSTOR search is tangible.  Now, of course, the obviousness with which you find valuable information in a scholarly database versus a search engine is indirectly proportional to the complexity of the issue.  That is, if you search for a lower-academic topic such as automobile recalls, there are going to be dozens and dozens of popular/academic articles on your topic that you can find via the Google search engine.  Not necessarily great articles, or the best articles for your research paper, but you will still find results that you could use.  The higher up the academic/scholarly food chain that you go, the less likely you are to find workable search results in search engines such as Google or Bing, and the more likely you are to find a plethora of scholarly sources in academic databases. 

I mean, think about it -  how many members of the general public are frequently blogging with any sort of authority or accuracy on made-to-order glycoproteins?

After taking the quiz below, be sure to check out Part B of this module which will cover our E-Book and E-Journal holdings, and lastly will discuss how to search for monographic (book) holdings within Blackwell Library's collection.




Chemistry 403/413 Professor:


1.  From the following drop-down list, chose a research topic:


2.  In the box below, enter in the appropriate keywords for your new research topic:


3.  Perform a search in one of the databases listed above on your newly-chosen research topic, using your new keywords:

 Which database did you choose?


In the box below, summarize your search experience and what
article(s) you found that looked good.


4.  Repeat this exercise in a second database:

Which database did you choose this time?


Again, summarize your search experience and what
 article(s) looked good the second time around.


5.   Write up your experience with these two databases  in the box below - which database did you prefer to use? Why?  Did you have any problems with either of the two databases?  Did any of your search results surprise you?