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Introduction to Chemical Research

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Introduction to this Guide
This guide provides an overview of how to use the library to do literature research in chemistry. Want guidance on searching a particular resource? Click on one of the hyperlinks in the "Sections within this Guide" box, located to the right of this Introduction box.

If you have questions about using the library, searching for library resources, or locating items, please contact your Liaison Librarian for Chemistry, Kirstin. Her contact information is to the right on this page.

Want an easy way to get back to this guide?

Additional library resources for chemists are available on the Chemistry subject page.
Searching for Articles
Let's take a quick look at the core chemistry journal article databases available via Booth Library -- SciFinder, ACS Publications, and PubMed. Access these databases anywhere you can connect to the internet (in the library, in the physical sciences building, at home in your pajamas, studying abroad in Fiji, etc.).



Before you use SciFinder for the first time, you will need to create an account by using this form.

Search scientific citations from journals (thousands of active journals from CAplus and MEDLINE, including >1,500 key chemistry journals), patents from 63 patent authorities, conference proceedings, technical reports, books, dissertations, reviews, and meeting abstracts. SciFinder is a product of Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the American Chemical Society (early 1800s to present).

Search by keyword ...

... or by citation:

When you find a reference you want, use  to access the full-text article (see screenshot below). Ask a Librarian if you need assistance with this process. If needed, also see the section within this guide on Using Interlibrary Loan.


ACS Publications

Search the journal literature published by the American Chemical Society (1879 to present).

Look for the yellow search box at the top right of the ACS Publications home page. Search by keyword or citation, or browse by CAS section:




Search literature in the field of biomedicine and health, including portions of the life sciences, behavioral sciences, chemical sciences, and bioengineering. Maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (1800 to present).

Finding Chemical Properties and Data
Within this database, use the Explore < Substances search. Predicted and experimental properties and spectra are available, along with additional information.
You need to create an account the first time you use SciFinder. Register here.

NIST Chemistry WebBook
Search by name, chemical formula, CAS registry number, molecular weight, chemical structure, or selected ion energetics and spectral properties.

Search across publically available databases. Owned by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Company catalog search. Also available in print in the library reference section: Aldrich Chemistry: Handbook of Fine Chemicals, call number REF TP 202 .A38x (2012-2014).

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
In the library reference section, call number REF QD 65 .H3 (2004-2005). Two circulating copies are also available to check out. View ebook (97th ed., 2016-2017).

Lange’s Handbook of Chemistry
In the library reference section, call number REF QD 65 .L36 2005x. An older edition is available for check out.

Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals
In the library reference section, call number REF RS 51 .M4 1996. Older editions are available for check out.

Spectral Data

SDBS - Spectral Database for Organic Compounds
Search by name, formula, CAS registry number, molecular weight, atoms included, IR peaks, NMR shift, MS peaks and intensities.

NIST Chemistry WebBook
Provides mass, UV-VIS, and IR graphical spectra.

Aldrich Libraries of Spectra
In the library reference section, NMR and FT-IR spectra.

UV Atlas of Organic Compounds
In the library reference section, call number REF QC459 .U852 v.1-5.

Hershenson's Ultraviolet and Visible Absorption Spectra Indices to the Literature
In the library reference section, call number REF Z7144.S7 U4 (1930-1963).
Sourcing Chemicals
Use SciFinder to look up substance information:

… and locate suppliers:

Remember that you need to create an account the first time you use SciFinder. Register here.
Locating Chemical Safety Data
Where to find MSDS on the Internet
Comprehensive list of online sources for Material Safety Data Sheet information.

Answers questions like What are Material Safety Data Sheets and Safety Data Sheets? and How do I read a Safety Data Sheet?

Additional online sources for safety information

A suite of toxicology databases. From the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Safety Data Sheets search across products sold by Sigma-Aldrich.

Tox Town
Household Products database. From the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). See also the Household Products Database factsheet from the NLM.

Pesticide Action Network
Current toxicity and regulartory information for pesticides.
Searching for Books
Find books on your topic:
If you are searching an author's name or book's title, select the radio button next to Author or Title in the above search tool to limit your results.

On your list of search results, click on a title that interests you. You will see a record like the example below.

Books at Booth Library are shelved by subject. After searching the library catalog, locate your book on the shelf, and then look at the books shelved in the adjacent area for more on your topic. You may also browse for books in your specialization at the call numbers listed below. Find chemistry books on the 1000 Level, or first floor, of the library.

Library of Congress Classification for Chemistry
QD1-999         Chemistry
QD1-65               General
                                    Including alchemy
QD71-142            Analytical chemistry
QD146-197          Inorganic chemistry
QD241-441          Organic chemistry
QD415-436                 Biochemistry
QD450-801          Physical and theoretical chemistry
QD625-655                 Radiation chemistry
QD701-731                 Photochemistry
QD901-999          Crystallography

Additional useful call number ranges:

QP 501-801         Animal biochemistry
TP 1-1185       Chemical technology
Using Interlibrary Loan


After searching for articles in an article database, if you see , click on it to locate the full text article. In SciFinder, you will use . You will either be directed to the full text article, or you will have the option to request the item using interlibrary loan (for items not owned by Booth Library). Requesting articles via interlibrary loan is a free service.

Our interlibrary loan staff will process your request. Article requests generally take 3-4 days, sometimes up to 14 days, depending on how rare the item being requested is.

When the article is available, you will receive an email with the article attached as a .pdf document. Save the .pdf to your computer for future use.



If the book you want is not available at Booth Library, use I-Share or WorldCat to locate the item.


As an EIU student, you may request books from other academic libraries in Illinois for free. If you begin in the Booth Library Online Catalog, make sure to change your search from "Local Catalog Only" to "All I-Share Libraries," as indicated in the diagram below.

After selecting a title, click on the "Request 1st Available" tab, as shown below. You will be prompted to log in. You will need to click the link to "Create New Account" if this is your first time using the I-Share system. Once you submit your request, you will receive an email when the book is ready to be picked up (generally, in 3-5 business days). Retrieve your book from the Circulation Desk of Booth Library, on the main floor near the south entrance.

Note that e-books not owned by Booth Library are not accessible to Booth Library patrons due to publisher restrictions on use.


If the book you want is not at Booth Library and is not available via I-Share, try searching WorldCat, a global catalog of library collections.

After clicking on a title in your list of results, look for the link to "Borrow this item from another library," as highlighted below. Books requested using WorldCat will take some time to arrive (1-2 weeks, sometimes longer), depending on where the nearest library is that owns a copy. This is a free service.

You will receive an email when the book is ready to be picked up. Retrieve your book from the Circulation Desk of Booth Library, on the main floor near the south entrance.

If you have questions about using the library, remember to Ask a Librarian!
Subject Specialist
Picture: Kirstin Duffin

Kirstin Duffin
Reference Librarian Liaison for Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geology/Geography
Office: 217 581-7550

Reference Desk: 217-581-6072
Email the Reference Desk

Citation Management Tools
Organize and format your citations. Create your reference list in seconds (really!). Collaborate with your classmates.

Try one of these free tools:

ACS ChemWorx
Developed by the American Chemical Society. "[T]he first reference manager customized to address the specific needs of researchers in the chemical and related sciences."

Reference manager and academic social network.

"[T]he only research tool that automatically senses content in your web browser, allowing you to add it to your personal library with a single click."
Citing & Style Guide
The ACS Style Guide is available online and in hardcopy at Booth Library.

ACS Style Guide
REF QD 8.5 .A25 2006
Journal Abbreviations

CAS Source Index (CASSI) Search Tool

Use this tool to identify the accepted standard abbreviation for journal titles or learn the full name of an abbreviated journal title.

Note: Check the box for "Exact match" to the right of the search box to locate your journal quickly.
Naming and Nomenclature
CAS Registry within SciFinder
The gold standard for chemical substance information. Within SciFinder, use the Explore < Substances search. CAS Registry Numbers, substance names, and other names for substances are provided.
You need to create an account the first time you use SciFinder. Register here.

IUPAC Gold Book
A compendium of chemical terminology. From the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
Chemistry Fundamentals - books & ebooks

Principles of Chemistry
View ebook
Annual Reviews in Chemistry
Find the Annual Reviews on the 1000 Level, or first floor, of the library:

Annual Review of Biochemistry
QP 501 .A7 (1932-2013)
electronic access (1997-current)

Annual Review of Physical Chemistry
QD 1 .A732 (1950-2013)
electronic access (1996-current)

Annual Review of Materials Science
TA401 .A7 (1971-1997)
Encyclopedia and Dictionaries
Find these books on the 3000 Level, the main floor of the library, near the reference computer lab. Use them in the library only.

Hawley’s Condensed Chemical Dictionary
REF QD 5 .C5 1997x

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Chemistry
REF QD5 .M357 1997

Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology
REF TP 9 .E685 (1991-1998)

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry
REF QD148 .E53 1994

Encyclopedia of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
REF QC762 .E53 1996, v. 1

Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics
REF Q175.35 .E53 2005