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How do I find articles on a specific topic?

Step 1. Choose your Database

The first - and possibly most important - step is to select the appropriate database for your topic. There are many to choose from across all subjects. Here are the most useful ones for chemistry:

SciFinder (Chemical Abstracts) is a comprehensive tool covering the chemical literature back to 1907, and is used primarily by researchers and advanced students. Caveats: SciFinder requires advance personal registration. Retrieval on simple searches may be overwhelming, since CAS indexes thousands of publications and millions of patents in over 50 languages.

Web of Science is a large database that covers thousands of journals across all scientific disciplines. It doesn't require a user account and indexes less foreign language material than SciFinder, so it's a good tool for students new to literature searching.

Analytical Abstracts is useful for searching across about 50 key analytical science journals since 1980. It's not nearly as comprehensive as SciFinder or Web of Science, but you can define an analyte and matrix, and it's easy to use.

Google Scholar is a popular free search engine. It indexes the full text of millions of articles in electronic scholarly journals across many disciplines. While the search interface is simple, there's not much you can do with it other than enter some words and then browse voluminous results. It's fine if you just want to find a couple relevant articles and you're not too picky. But you shouldn't rely on Google Scholar for comprehensive searching.


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