Syllabus for PHYSICAL SCIENCE 300, SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE, Spring 2006
2 credit hours
this semeser, although we would normally start with the techniques for performing hand searches, we will begin with the techniques for computer searches. this is due to the damage done to Frazar library by Hurricane Rita in the fall of 2005. If the library is not able to bwe reopened during the semester, we learn to do hand searches using the limited numbers of Chem Abstracts available to us in Kirkman Hall and use the private collections of some of the faculty. We will not abandon the hand searches since it is important to learn how to perfom these effficently. Not all knowledge may be found in a computer database.
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 14 assignments in this course.
Approximately half will deal with hand searches of one type or another. The
first thirteen covering 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), Pyschological Abstracts,
- 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.
Assignments will be
graded by the percentage of requested infrmation correctly returned.
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
Kirkman 215 A
Office Hours: M-F 10-12
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