ACS/CPT Guidelines

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.

Core Courses in Chemistry. Throughout the core, attention should be given to chemical safety, to the systematic use of the chemical literature, and to computer applications.

Laboratory Work in Chemistry. Laboratory instruction should give students hands-on experience with chemistry and the self-confidence and competence to plan and execute experiments through the use of the literature.

Related Studies. Well-prepared students should emerge from a program in chemistry with experience with computers, including an ability to use spreadsheets, 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 so is with a specific course, which usually would not qualify for the advanced course requirement. Other means for imparting these skills involve coordinated instruction integrated into individual courses. Library and computer 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, Science Citation Index, and other compilations, will generally require formal classes. It is essential that students gain experience with online, interactive computer files, which can include the compendia just mentioned.  Students must have a prior understanding of the organization and use of printed information sources in order to employ computer-readable files to best advantage.
    The CPT recognizes that this edition of the guidelines is being prepared at a time when personal computers and Internet access are having profound effects on access to and use of the scientific literature.  The Committee has tried to look ahead in preparing this edition and expects to review issues related to chemical literature access frequently.

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 online) must be a part of the collection, and access must be to full abstracts, not merely titles. If the only access to Chemical Abstracts is online, then the department is expected to demonstrate that students have good and timely access to this reference work.  An institution with a broad spectrum of research activity will require extensive library holdings. The department meets the minimum library requirement for approval if its library subscribes to 20 or more refereed journals in the chemical sciences and has a range of other reference materials. If an institution subscribes to fewer than 20 current refereed journals in the chemical sciences, the on-site collection should have subscriptions to no fewer than 14 current journals chosen from the CPT journal list (available from the OPT at the ACS and at the CPT Web site). Of the 14, at least 4 must be from the general content list, and at least 1 each must be from the areas of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Microfiche for current subscriptions are not acceptable because they do not give students easy and inviting access to the literature.  Microfiche are, of course, acceptable for back files of journals.
    Continuous access to individual journals by online subscriptions is acceptable in place of hard-copy subscriptions if the full text and graphic material from all papers are routinely accessible to students. If the primary access that students have to Chemical Abstracts and to the literature is by means of computers, it is essential that this access not be unduly limited by cost considerations or by impractical times for access. Good printing facilities with graphics capability are also needed. When online subscriptions are used, the Committee will seek statistical information about the extent of student use.

Return to Why Teach

Return to Teaching Chemical Information

Last Modified: June 23, 2000 by Kierstin Child.