Syllabus for PHYSICAL SCIENCE 300, SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE, Spring 2008
2 credit hours
Dr. Mark S. Delaney
Office: Kirkman 215 A
Research Lan: Kirkman 215
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Office Hours: 10am-11:50 am M-F, other hours by appointment
Course Description: A course that teaches students to efficiently search the scientific literature, using both hand-searches of actual print materials, and via computer searching. Additionally students will learn how to prepare a document in pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format.
Prerequisites: Junior level or permission of instructor.
Textbook: None. Material will be covered in lectures. (No suitable book is available, since search techniques are changing so rapidly.)
Course Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes: After completing the course the student will be able to:
- search hardcopies of such abstracts as Chemical Abstracts, Biological Abstracts, Physics Abstracts, etc.
- use Beilstein
- efficiently use various handbooks and encyclopedias to retrieve chemical and scientific information
- efficeintly search the internet, and know the techniques for refining the search within major search engines
- use meta-search engines to search the internet
- find resources on the internet
- search databases on CD-ROM
- be able to design an efficient search for Chemical Abstracts Online
- produce a document in pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format
- search efficeintly using SciFinder Scholar
- be able to use the LOUIS system to access information about Louisiana university libraries
- be able to access and use the various databases availalbe through the McNeese library
ASSESSMENT & GRADING
Assignments will be graded by the percentage of requested information correctly returned. When references are asked for, they should be in a standard reference format. Sometimes very specific pieces of information will be asked for, they should be reported in as brief a format as possible. All grades in this course are from assignments, all equally weighted. There will be a final assignment in which the student will be asked to find specific information. for this final assignment, the student will return the information and indicate the path used (abstracting service, search engine, handbook, etc.) used to retrieve the information. Assignments will lose 10% for each week late. The grading scale for the assignments and the course is a ten point scale:
The aims of this course are to teach the student to efficiently search the scientific literature. Some students
may think that this entails only how to do computer searching. It is true that
computer searching is a very powerful tool, but there is a problem. Most
databases do not yet go back any farther than approximately 1967. The priorities
of abstracting services are (understandably) to keep up with the literature
currently being published over extending the database backward. In order to do a
thorough search one must be able to both do a "hand search" and to be proficient
at computer searching. There will be approximately 14 assignments in this course.
Approximately half will deal with hand searches of one type or another. The
first thirteen asignments will cover specific areas of searching the scientific literature.
The final assignment the student will be asked to retrieve certain information
or documents by whatever means necessary. Some of the topics coved in the course
will include (not necessarily in order of presentation) :
- Chemical Abstracts: Chemical Abstracts can be searched by hand and
after 1967 by computer. Several lecutures will cover the use of the Author
Index, (General) Subject Index, Chemical Substance Index, Formula Index and
Patent Index. Also discussed will be the use of the Collected Indices and
changes in format in Chemical Abstracts over the years. It may seem like a
disproportionate amount of time is spent on learning how to use Chemical
Abstracts, the time is well spent since many other abstracting services for
other sciences are modeled after Chemical Abstracts. Several assignments will
given for Chemical Abstracts hand searches. Later in the semester after a
lecture on computer searching Chemical Abstracts, the student will review the
online tutorial on how to use Chemical Abstracts Online, design a theoretical
search for a subject and the instrtuctor will check the syntax for the search.
Finally, each student will be assigned their own topic to research, design the
search for an assigned five year period and finally perform the Chemical
Abstracts Online search with the aid of a Reference Librarian (who again
- Other Abstracting Services Covered: For hand searches - Biological
Abstracts (computer searchable 1969 and after), Physics Abstracts, etc.
- Beilstein: Beilstein is a treatise on organic chemistry. A lecture
on the use of Beilstein for hand searches will be followed by an assignment
for the use of Beilstein
- Handbooks and Encyclopedias: Instruction on the use of handbooks
and encylcopedias such as "The Chemist's Companion," "The Concise Dictionary
of Chemistry," "The Condensed Chemical Dictionary," "CRC Handbook of Chemistry
& Physics," "Dictionary of Organic Compounds," "Encyclopedia of Industrial
Chemical Analysis," "Encyclopedia of Polymer Science & Technology,"
"Encyclopedia of Chemical Reactions," "MazcMillan's Encyclopedia of
Chemistry," "The Merck Index," "Physician's Desk Reference," "Reagents of
Organic Synthesis" (Fieser & Fieser, continuing series). An assignment
dealing with retrieving information from handbooks or encyclopedias will be
- Internet Searching: The first assignment on computer searching will
deal with the various internet search engines. As the student will soon
discover, not all search engines are created equal!! The lecture on this
subject will identify the most popular search engines and their URLs and will
also discuss and demonstrate the use of meta search engines, (search engines
that actually search multiple other search engines) which are the most
efficient way to perform internet searches,
- Online Chemistry Resources: The second lecture on the internet will
deal with chemistry resources on the internet, such as the Virtual Chemistry
Library, various manufacturers who offer various free services, some free
online journals, etc.
- ACS Online Journals: A lecture will present how titles and authors
of ACS Online Journals may be searched for free. The articles and abstracts
themselves can be retrieved for a $25.00 fee payable by credit card over a
secure connecton or be retrieved by a subscriber to the online journal without
- Searching databases on CD-ROM: For this assignment will we use the
Abstracts from PittCon 2001 on CD. The searchable database is in pdf format.
The installation install Acrobat Reader 4.0 to perform the search and diplay
functons. A lecture will cover the use of this type of database on CD-ROM and
an assignment will be given to do searches on the CD-ROM.
- Publishing to pdf: The format pdf (portable document file) can be
read on any platform (Windows, Mac, LINUX, etc.) with the appropriate software
package. For this reason, many journals are asking for article submissions in
pdf, while other agencies (i.e. NSF ) are soliciting grant proposals in pdf.
For this reason the student is going to be asked to publish a lab report in
pdf format on disk for this assignment. A lecture on the various methods of
publsihing to pdf will proceed the assignment. Various programs available in
the various computer labs at McNeese with the ability to publish to pdf
include the full-featured Adobe Acrobat, WordPerfect Office 2000, and
Microsoft Office 2000.
- Online McNeese Library Reseources: A lecture on the online
resources of the McNeese Library will cover then databases ABI/INFORM,
Cambridge Indexes, EBSCO Online, GaleNet, InfoTrac, MathSciNet, Oxford English
Dictionary, Ulrich's Directory, WebPAC (portal to LOUIS the computerized
library catalog of the Louisiana institutions of higher learning), Books in
Print, CCH Tax Research, ERIC Documents, Grove's Music, LEXIS-NEXIS,
netLibrary, Standard & Poor's, WebSPIRS, and World Cat. Instructions on
the use of these databases will be given and an assignment on the use of these
resources will be given.