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CHEM 500 - Research Methods

Research tips & Resources for Chemistry Graduate Students

Graduate Students, Welcome to Library Research!

In this Guide you will find

  • Tips for using database(s) in your subject area
  • Tricks for managing and citing your research
  • Advice on writing annotated bibliographies & literature reviews
  • Guidance on scientific presentations & poster sessions, and
  • Other tips to make your research and scholarly writing a bit easier

Your Launch Point - the Library's Website @

Preparing to Do Your Research

Before you start your research, you need to do a few things to prepare and get organized.

Identify the parameters of the topic such as scope, depth, purpose:

  • What is the purpose of the research?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the perspective (e.g. experimental, applied, exploratory)?
  • What is the expected end product?
  • How much time and money can be allocated to this project?

Clearly Define your Topic: Make a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables of interest. Make sure to list synonyms and related terms. As you search and discover new terminology, added it to your list.

Take Good Notes as you Research. This will help you develop your literature review later, and will help you keep track of which sources relate to your research and how. You may want to make note of:

  • The main ideas of the source
  • Questions or comments about the argument’s or author’s credibility
  • Key points or quotes that you might include in your paper with page numbers to locate them
  • Whether or not the source will be useful in your research paper and how

It can be helpful to Keep a search log. Think of this like a research notebook, but one that tracks your search strategy and results. Report the date, database, search string and filters, relevance of results and any other notes that might be useful if you get ideas later or can't remember what you found where.

Track your sources. Using citation manger software like EndNote Web, Zotero and Mendeley can help, and your notes can go right into the software with the citation attached.

  • Books: author, title, publisher, place of publication, date of publication, call number and other location information, content notes
  • Print Journal Articles:  author, title of article, journal title, volume and issue number, inclusive page numbers of article, date of issue, location information
  • Electronic Full-Text Articles: same information as for periodicals plus URL or DOI if available, date you accessed the article, producer (publisher or aggregator), library where or through which the database was accessed
  • Web sites: URL, date, producer, title or name, and the date you accessed the web page

PRO TIP: Login to First to Avoid Multiple Login Requests

Many Library resources are paid for by the Library on your behalf, and come with strict licensing agreements. To use them, you will need to go through the Library's proxy server to authenticate you as a BSU affiliate. Log into before you start your research and single sign-on will take care of the authentication for you. By doing this you'll avoid repeated requests to put in your BSU user name and password to get to materials.

PRO TIP: Set Up Google Scholar, Interlibrary Loan, and a Citation Manager

If you haven't already done so, you may also want to set up:

  1. Google Scholar to show you Albertsons Library's materials
  2. An Interlibrary Loan account
  3. A citation manager account in EndNote Web, Zotero, or Mendeley

All of these options are free, and will help you as you do your research. You'll find resources in the pages of this guide to help you accomplish these things.

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