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CHEM 151 (Small) SP24

Recommended Chemistry Databases

How to Start

Identify Keywords

Is there chemical evidence of the Carlsbad desalination plant affecting nearby seawater?

Brainstorm Related Search Terms

  • chemical evidence: testing, water sampling, particles, chlorine, copper, mass-spectrometry
  • Carlsbad desalination plant: industrial waste, desalination brine, ecological impact, biological impact, California Coastal Commission, regulations, long-term impact, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Pacific Ocean
  • seawater: runoff, brackish, sea life, organisms, fish, food chain contamination, salinity, beach, shore, swimmers

Database Search Tips

  • Background information can help: "The six most abundant ions of seawater are chloride (Cl−), sodium (Na+), sulfate (SO24−), magnesium (Mg2+), calcium (Ca2+), and potassium (K+). Inorganic carbon, bromide, boron, strontium, and fluoride constitute the other major dissolved substances of seawater." Britannica
  • List of terms that may be useful to search: salinity, ions, seawater, chloride, sodium, sulfate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, "inorganic carbon", bromide, boron, strontium, fluoride, "bicarbonate ions", "carbonate ions", "hydrogen ions"

Advanced Search Strategies

  • “Quotation marks” keep words together to search exact phrase ("inorganic carbon")
  • AND searches all terms ("choride AND sodium")
  • OR finds either term; useful for synonyms ("magnesium OR calcium")

Request Articles & Books


The ACS style is a set of standards for writing documents relating to chemistry, including a standard method of citation in academic publications, developed by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

What is a Primary Source?

In the Sciences, primary sources are first-hand evidence and original.

  • Research studies or scientific experiments
  • Papers and proceedings from scientific conferences
  • Dissertations and Theses
  • Technical Reports
  • Patents

Search Tip

  • Found in scholarly or peer-reviewed journals that have a "methods" and "results" sections

Secondary sources are secondhand accounts that summarizes someone else's research. 

  • Publications about the significance of research
  • Review of the results of several experiments or trials
  • Analysis of a clinical trial
  • Letters to the editor, editorials, perspectives