Teaching Chemical Information:
Tips and Techniques
— March 1998 —
Excerpts Relating to Chemical Information
Financial Support. Financial Support for the institution is necessary for a suitable amount and variety of library and learning resources, including chemical research periodicals, reference materials, and database searching facilities.
Laboratory Work in Chemistry. Laboratory instruction should give students hands-on knowledge of chemistry and the self-confidence and competence to plan and execute experiments through the use of the literature.
Related Studies. Students should emerge from an ACS-approved program in chemistry with experience with computers, including programming, numerical and non-numerical algorithms, simulations, data acquisition, and use of databases for information handling and retrieval.
Chemical and Information Retrieval. Students preparing for professional work in chemistry must learn to retrieve specific information from the enormous and rapidly expanding chemical literature. The complexity of this task is such that one can no longer easily acquire the necessary skills without some formal instruction. An excellent means for doing this is with a specific course, although it should be pointed out that such a course cannot normally be counted as satisfying a part of the advanced course requirements. Other means for imparting these skills involve coordinated instruction integrated into certain courses, preferably at junior and senior level. Library exercises should be included in such instruction. In departments requiring undergraduate research, instruction in information retrieval may be a part of the introduction to research, but it should be recognized that adequate presentation of the subject—including an understanding of the use of Chemical Abstracts, Beilstein, Gmelin, Science Citation Index, and other compilations, such as Landolt-Bornstein—will generally require formal lectures. It is highly desirable that students gain some experience with on-line interactive computer files, and it is essential that students understand the organization and use of printed information sources in order to employ the computer-readable files to best advantage.
Library Requirements. Essential to an approved chemistry program is a good library where faculty and students have access to books and periodicals and where adequate support for database searching is available. Chemical Abstracts (hard copy or on-line) must be a part of the collection. An institution with a broad spectrum of research activity will require extensive holdings. The department meets the minimum library requirement for approval of its library subscribes to twenty or more journals in the chemical sciences and has a range of other reference materials. If an institution subscribes to fewer than twenty current refereed journals in the chemical sciences it must demonstrate that an adequate mechanism exists for faculty and students to gain access to the wider literature. In such instances, the on-site collection must have hard copy subscriptions to no fewer than fourteen current journals chosen from the CPT library listing below. Of the fourteen, at least four must be from the general content list, and at least one each must be from the areas of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry.