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2 credit hours
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) :

  1. 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 checks syntax.)

  2. Other Abstracting Services Covered: For hand searches - Biological Abstracts (computer searchable 1969 and after), Pyschological Abstracts, Physics Abstracts

  3. 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

  4. 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 given.

  5. 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,

  6. 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.

  7. 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 another fee.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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. Course Objectives

    After completing the course, the student will be able to


    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 ion 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:


    Dr. Mark S. Delaney
    Office: Kirkman 215 A
    Phone: 337/475-5956
    FAX: 337/475-5950
    E-mail: or
    Office Hours: M-F 10-12

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