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Chemistry: Explore a Topic

Find Background Information

Good places to find background information:
  • Your textbook or class readings
  • Encyclopedias and reference books
  • Credible websites
  • And of course ...

Chemistry Reference Sources

Clarify Your Question

Broad resources like the ones in the Exploration tab help to place your topic in the context of the broader discipline that you study, reveal useful search terms, and - best of all - stimulate questions that inspire your writing.

Important Considerations
  • The shorter the paper, the more specific the topic.
  • Is there a specific area within the broader topic that you're curious about or even irked by?
  • Is there a cause-effect relationship that you're curious about?
  • Look for unanswered questions.
  • Are there time periods or groups of people within the discipline that strike a chord for you?
  • If you think you've got a topic worth writing about, try to explain it informally to a friend. Are there gaps in what you know? Did any questions come up?
Are there books on your topic?

When a reference tool is too broad, it can be useful to seek out a book, and sometimes scholars get together to tackle a subject, breaking it apart into chapters written by experts on that specific subtopic. We call those books anthologies, and they can be very helpful in choosing a rabbit hole, so to speak.


Book Databases

Chemical & Material Properties Resources

More Reference Sources

Handbooks, Encyclopedias, & Dictionaries