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CHEM 1003: Resources for chemical research assignment: Choosing a Molecule

General Tips for Choosing a Molecule

Choosing Your Molecule

Choosing the right molecule is perhaps the most important step in the research process for this project. It pays to spend some time up front thinking about which molecule you will be investigating; this will make the research process much easier. With that in mind, here are a few general tips to keep in mind when choosing your molecule.


              Photo by Hiro Sheridan on

  1. Choose something that you are interested in.
    You are going to be spending a lot of time researching your topic and then creating your poster presentation. Choose something that you are interested in and want to learn more about. If you are interested in your topic, your project will not only be easier to complete, but it will also be more meaningful to you.
  2. Your topic may change as you go along.
    As you start to research your initial molecule, you may have to narrow or broaden your scope. You may find something even more interesting as you go along. It is a normal part of the research process to alter and refine your topic; so stay flexible.

Browsing vs. Searching

Browsing vs. Searching

You can either browse by topic or search by keyword on each of the above sites. You may find it helpful to browse within a specific area (i.e. chemistry or health) if you don't already have an idea of a possible topic. If you have a general idea of the type of molecule you would like to investigate, you can perform a site search using the embedded search box on the websites themselves. Alternatively, you can use Google to search within a particular site by using the "site limiter" function. For example, if I wanted to search for articles on endocrine disrupters in Discover magazine, I could type the following into Google:


Possible Keywords to Search

Looking for some keywords to use in your search? Here are a few ideas to get you started. (You are in no way limited to using these terms...get creative and come up with your own topics!)

  • General Keywords:
    • chemotherapy agents
    • pharmaceuticals
    • plastics
    • toxicology
    • drug development
    • endocrine disrupters
  • Specific Keywords:
    • specific drugs (i.e. cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.)
    • carbon fiber frames
    • a specific element (i.e. strontium)

Finding Full Text

Accessing the Full Text of an Article

Most of the time, you will be taken to the full text of an article directly from one of the above websites. Some sites, like the New York Times, have a limit on the number of articles that you can read without having a subscription. If you receive a message that you have exceeded your number of free articles, try looking in the library's catalog to see if we have already paid for a subscription to a particular resource.

You can do this by searching for the source by name in the library catalog, using the Compass search tool on the library website:

If the library has access, click the "Access Online" tab below the publication on the library catalog results page. Click any of the hyperlinks after "Full text available at" to search for your particular article. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask the Research Center how you can obtain access.

Popular Sources

Popular Sources to Use
How can you find a popular article to inspire your project? To locate an article, start by searching and browsing within the popular science resources listed below: