The first given is that the organic synthesis literature is vast and extends far back in time. The bulk of the primary research literature is from the traditional journals, but in recent years patents have provided another major source of preparation information. Later, this information may reappear--perhaps checked or revised, perhaps not--in the secondary literature, which includes handbooks, compendia, indexes, reviews, textbooks, and treatises.
It's often easier to go to the original document if you have the citation and the library owns it. But if you're starting from scratch, consulting the secondary sources can greatly reduce time spent searching the literature. This guide aims to describe the most useful and best-known of these, and act as a guide to finding preparation and reaction information in the Mallet Chemistry Library at the University of Texas. Sources listed are located in the reference collection unless otherwise noted, but it's always a good idea to check UTCAT to see the current location and status for any book you're seeking.
[Note for outside readers: this guide is keyed to the holdings of UT's Chemistry Library. This library does not own everything that might be useful in the area of organic synthetic chemistry--no library does. But there might be a number of sources omitted that you would otherwise expect to see, and this is most likely because they are not available on this campus. Remember also that library call numbers can differ from campus to campus.]
In some respects, the way organic chemists approach the literature is generational. Some chemists may insist that traditional printed sources such as Beilstein are the only true path, because that is how they were trained. Others are convinced that newer computerized storage and retrieval systems are the irresistable wave of the future, offering options and access points that no printed source could ever provide. And still others merely follow journal citations and never bother with secondary sources at all. There's no one "right" way to go about it, and opinions can vary widely and strongly. But a well-rounded chemist should be acquainted with all the options.
Choose among the Contents headings listed above to see descriptions and uses of resources available in the Chemistry Library.
(c) 1995 by The University of Texas atAustin.
This material may be quoted or reproduced without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given.
Last Modified: July 01, 1999
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