The "Ideal Chemical Information Curriculum"
as suggested by Carol Carr and Arleen Somerville
at the "Chemical Information Instruction in Academe" session,
National Chemical Information Symposium, June 1994, University of
Vermont; augmented from discussions.
What every undergraduate chemistry major should know:
1. That a chemical literature EXISTS. (i.e., that there are
scientific dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, journals, etc.)
2. The primary mode of published information transfer in chemistry
is the journal article or patent.
3. The TYPES of sources available - when and how to use each
a. journal articles/patents
b. books: Students should realize that whole books exist on
topics simply mentioned in their texts.
c. handbooks (i.e., CRC Handbook, Merck Index, Dictionary of
d. abstracts/indexes (bibliographic, as well as other types
specific to chemistry, e.g. reaction, structure)
e. review publications (journals, book series)
f. citation indexes
Basic skills for undergraduates
1. can locate review articles/encyclopedia articles.
2. can find a list of publications by an author.
3. can use a citation index.
4. can find information on:
a. subjects (in CA and other indexes, e.g., General Science
b. properties (spectra; chemical, physical, and toxicological,
c. compound preparation
5. are aware that reaction databases exist.
6. are aware of the power of structure searches (in near future,
knowledge on how to conduct structure searches may be a
7. are aware of patents: understand their importance, their
organization, and how to locate chemical patents.
In addition, undergraduates should know:
1. that electronic versions of print sources exist and that some
sources are only available electronically.
2. some electronic searching techniques, such as search logic,
choosing relevant search terms.
3. that some special searching techniques exist for retrieving
chemical information, e.g., name segments, molecular formula.
Basic skills for graduate students/advanced undergraduates
Students at these levels should learn to review the literature
before starting any project.
They should develop good information habits, such as monitoring the
Students should take advantage of sources on the Internet:
preprints, sequence databases, listservs, etc.
In addition to the basic skills acquired during undergraduate
years, these students should acquire additional skills so they can:
1. complete a comprehensive subject search using a variety of
sources - e.g., physical chemists should be able to use INSPEC
as well as CA.
2. complete a comprehensive search for information about a
3. conduct reaction searches.
4. conduct structure searches.