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CHEM410: History of Chemistry

Getting Started

This guide serves to support students in the course CHEM410 History of Chemistry and provides selected resources and search techniques to assist them in their research for the writing assignment.

Search Strategies

Define your research topic in a sentence or two

  • Ask yourself: who, what, where, when, why, how

Identify the major concepts

List keywords for each concept

Select the resources according to needed information

  • General information, background: books, encyclopedias (DELCAT, CREDO Reference)
  • Current discussion or news reports: newspapers, trade magazines
  • Current research, technical information: journals, patents (databases)

If your topic is a person (e.g., Dudley Herschbach), start with basic biographical information to learn about their life and activities. Beyond encyclopedias and books, look for interviews, university or research websites, newspaper articles, etc. Who did they work with? What were their interests? How did they contribute to their field?

If your topic is an issue (e.g., controversy over credit for the development of the laser), ask yourself questions about what you need and want to know. What is the nature of the controversy? Who was involved? How was it resolved, if at all?

As you conduct research about your topic, you will become more familiar with the keywords and phrases used to describe the subject. Identify the major concepts of your topic and start a list of the different keywords used. For example, regarding the laser invention controversy, keywords for the two concepts include:

  • laser invention, laser development
  • controversy, dispute, claim

When researching a person, pay attention to any name variations (Dudley Herschbach; Dudley R. Herschbach; Herschbach, Dudley Robert). Also, use terms such as interview or festschrift to find different sources of information. For example in DELCAT, try the following keyword searches:

  • Dudley Herschbach AND interview
  • Dudley Herschbach AND festschrift

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