Chemistry: Find the evidence

Journal articles and papers

Facts and Myths [Source: purchased from Dollar photo club,]Library databases are search tools (large indexes) that help you find evidence based literature in journal articles, conference papers, reports, book chapters and more. They can be discipline specific (such as Medline), or multidisciplinary (such as Scopus).

Scholarly references are best found in databases.

Some key databases include:

  1. &lsquo, 3D Character and Question Mark, 18 July 2008, CC License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0[(], Image Source: flickr,[] Don't know much about the topic area? Do some background reading, for example look in your textbook(s), or a try a relevant book.
  2. Look at the terms used in any key articles found. For example, look at the abstract, subject headings or author supplied keywords. Can you use these terms to further revise your search?
  3. Look at the reference list of any key articles found, these may be relevant.
  4. If you cannot find what you need in one database, try another one.
  5. Change your search. You may need to re-work it by adding another concept to focus it further, or removing a concept to broaden it. Are there any synonyms (similar keywords) you need to add?
  6. Searching for evidence takes time and practice. You may need to revise your search several times before you find what you need.

ChemSpider - chemical structures


Find books by searching the Library Catalogue

Search example: drugs metabolism

Library catalogue search example (Source: UniSA Library)  Library catalogue book limit (Source: UniSA Library)

Quick tips

  • Search for the Title or Author by changing the drop-down menu from All fields
  • Limit by Format to find books or media only (select 'more'...)
  • Limit by Format: books or media - select 'more' to see all options

Ebooks only? - select Show only: Full Text Online

Common title? Add extra information (e.g. author's surname), or try the Advanced Search.

Books can provide:[Horia Varlan, 'Hardcover book gutter and pages', CC Licence: CC BY 2.0 (, Image source: Flickr (]

  • definitions
  • topic overviews
  • step-by-step guides
  • in-depth information on a topic

...and much more comprehensive coverage of a topic than a webpage. Many books in the Library's collection are written or edited by people with expertise in the relevant field.

Types of books

Reference books - includes encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies and directories. Consult them to define terms or  find specific information. Search for them using the catalogue, like any other book.

Textbooks - provide instructional material intended for educational purposes. Textbooks are frequently updated as the material can become out of date very quickly.
Scholarly books - written on specific subjects and usually for a specific audience. Scholarly materials are necessary for university-level research in most disciplines.

Books can be good for finding background information and related research on your topic. Use them to find in-depth information, or put your topic into context with other important issues.

Tip: Find more by searching the Library Catalogue using the keywords: dictionary, handbook or encyclopedia

A subject search in the Library Catalogue may help focus your search and find relevant results.

Search in the subject field by changing the drop-down menu from All Fields to Subject. For example:


Search help

SciFinder Web searches differently from other databases. Watch this short video for help getting started with a topic search:

Shows how to apply your search in Scopus. [Watch low quality version of video]


Grey Literature

Link to Grey Literature <image, public domain>

Find sources of unpublished & non-traditional scholarly materials: 'Grey literature'