Text Box:          The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

        Department of Chemistry and Physics, PO Box 1510

        Pembroke, North Carolina 28372-1510



Chemistry 3980-800 WD  “Scientific Literature”                                                                            

2.0 credit hours

Online. Workshop library T 2:00 pm, W10:00am. Library Classroom 103


Professor:      Cornelia Tirla

                        Science 3227

                        910-522-5709  office

                        e-mail Cornelia.tirla@uncp.edu 


Office Hours:            M 3:00-4:00 pm, TWRF 1:00  – 2:00pm, and by appointment


Course materials:    The course materials are available through Blackboard, the UNCP library and the World Wide Web as described in the schedule below.


Description:   This course is an introduction to the methodology of researching topics both in print and electronic literature.  It is more about the tools used and the process of searching than about the information found.  We will focus primarily on the chemical literature, but the searching methodology is general and can be used, given the necessary materials, in any discipline.  Writing will be a major part of this course designed to both cement your understanding of literature searching and give you practice doing it.


Course Objectives: Upon finishing this course you should have mastered the following skills:

            Knowing how to use a variety of information searching tools both physical and electronic

            Knowing how to work with a variety of data sources including

                        Development fluency in bibliographic styles including the ACS style

                        Using both paper and web based materials including

                                    Scientific data bases

                                    SciFinder Scholar

            Understanding the nature and purpose of an abstract from the perspectives of both reader and writer

            Recognizing what kinds of data are available in specific sources and in specific data bases

            Recognizing that there may be multiple paths to the same information, but also

            Recognizing that different data bases are better suited for finding different kinds of information

            Knowing how to construct an efficient search; effective in

                        Using an appropriate data source

                        The total time and connect time required

                        Cost (many of the best data bases have subscription costs or charge by connect time)

                        Finding the proper information

                        Finding neither too little nor too much information

            Demonstrating the ability to construct an exhaustive search

            Demonstrating writing fluency using the conventions of science writing



Course Format: This course will be offered in an online format.  Almost every week workshops will be organized at the Library, to help you learn how to use the results. The workshops will be organized Tuesday at 2:00pm and Wednesday at 10:00 am. We will meet about 9 times during the semester.  Much of the work will be done on-line and in the library outside of the formal class time.



Course Requirements:        Graded assignments will include the weekly assignments listed on the schedule below. These assignments are worth 60% of the course grade.  A learning journal is worth 10% of the course grade and the remaining 30% will come from writing activities designed to augment the literature searching objectives of the course. 


In this course I will ask you to keep a Learning Journal.  This journal may be either written or electronic as you choose, but should be a (at least) weekly reflection on what you have learned as a result of this course.  Ideally you will see that your learning goes beyond the specific assignments to the more abstract notion of information storage and retrieval.  Some of the assignments will ask about aspects of your learning journal.  In addition I will collect and evaluate your journals late in the semester.  I will be looking to see whether you have recognized what you are learning.


There will be three formal Writing Projects two of which will involve peer editing and revision and several less formal essay assignments.  The Formal writing projects are:

1.     An assignment dealing with bibliographic styles focusing on the ACS style.

2.     An assignment dealing with abstracts from the perspectives of both the reader and the writer.

3.     As assignment to write a “review paper”.  Topics will vary but all will require a significant literature search.

All of these are designed to offer practical writing activities focusing on and/or requiring the use of literature searching skills.  As such they are intended to increasing the understanding of how to search for and use scientific literature.


Grading:        Weekly Literature Searching Assignments will be graded on a 10 point scale and contribute 60% of the course grade. 

The Learning Journal is worth 10% of the course grade.  I will ask for parts of this journal in some of the weekly assignments and for the entire journal at the end of the semester.

Demonstrating proficiency and/or improvement in writing will contribute 30% of the course grade.  The writing activities are intimately linked to the literature and literature searching assignments.


Literature searching assignments will be submitted and graded electronically.  If you choose to turn in the learning journal and summary paper physically, they may be picked up at my office at the end of the semester.  Any that are not picked up will be shredded and recycled.


Library workshop meetings will be used to discuss both literature and writing activities, and for peer editing of the second and third writing assignments as well as aspects of specific data bases.


There will be no exams in the course.


Privacy Policy:  All course material submitted electronically will be stored electronically for the duration of the course.  Once the final grades have been assigned all student files will be kept for one semester and then deleated.  They WILL NOT be archived.


Attendance:   This is an online course. Attendance to the library workshops is not mandatory.  For the attendance requirement, you are expected keep current with the on-line literature searching assignments.


Honor Code:  Students are expected to obey the UNCP Honor Code (see pp. 51-53 of the UNCP Catalog); settled cases involving first-time offense violation of the Honor Code, including plagiarism, will result in a minimum penalty of course failure.


It is a UNCP policy to grant up to two excused absences for religious observances with prior notification to your instructor.  See http://www.uncp.edu/chem_phy/religiousholidaypolicy.pdf for details


ADAAA Statement Any student with a documented learning, physical, chronic health, psychological, visual or hearing disability needing academic adjustments is requested to speak directly to Disability Support Services and the instructor, as early in the semester (preferably within the first week) as possible.  All discussions will remain confidential.  Please contact Disability Support Services,  DF Lowry Building, Room 107 or call 910-521-6695.


It is UNCP policy to permit up to two excused absences for religious holidays.  Details may be found on the department web page at http://www.uncp.edu/chem_phy/religiousholidaypolicy.pdf   


A Note about Frustration: Many of the literature searching assignments are open-ended, with little or no specific instruction about HOW to use a specific data source.  This is intentional!  It may also be sometimes frustrating.  I want you to explore each data source and find out for yourself how it works, what can be found there, and how to use it most efficiently.  Remember that this course is about the learning the process and tool use of literature searching.  If I were to give you a very specific list of instruction of what to do, you would not be doing the exploring and learning that I would like you to.  You would be using my process, one which best suits me, not leaning how to develop a customized process which best suits your way of thinking about information.

Course Schedule: Library workshops meetings will be held at the library room 103, Tuesday at 2:00pm and Wednesday at 10:00am. The same material will be reviewed on Tuesday and Wednesday meetings, the purpose or organizing two workshops in the same week, is to allow more students to attend, and to avoid time conflict with other classes. Literature searching assignments will be considered assigned on Monday morning of each week.  They are due no later than 11:59 P.M. the following Monday.  The writing assignments are scheduled and due as indicated below.  Hurried assignments are easily spotted, generally minimally answered, and rarely worthy of a high grade.


The dates followed by * are the days when the library workshops will be organized.



Week of


Date Due#

Jan 13

Introduction to the Course

Writing Assignment 1


Noon Jan 21

Jan 21

Jan 21*

Jan 22*

Assignment 1:  Library Holdings


Maj. Writing Assignment 1:  Bibliographic Style

Jan 27


Jan 30, Noon

Jan 27

Jan 28*

Jan 29*

Assignment 2:  The Science Citation Index (SCI)

Feb 3

Feb 3

Feb 4*

Feb 5*

Assignment 3:  SCI part 2


Writing Assignment 2

Feb 10

Feb 10

Feb 11*

Feb 12*

Assignment 4:  Electronic Data Bases


Maj. Writing Assignment 2:  Abstracts:  Purpose, style and content

Feb 17


Noon Feb 20

Feb 17

Feb 18*

Feb 19*

Assignment 5:  Dissertation Abstracts


Abstracts:  Peer Editing – The readers’ perspective

Feb 24


Noon Feb 27

Feb 24

Assignment 6:  Systematically Searching the Internet

Revised abstracts due. Writing Assignment 3

March 10



March 10

March 11*

March 12*

Assignment 7:  Scientific Journals, style and purpose

March 17

March 17

March 18*

March 19*

Assignment 8:  Introduction to the SciFinder Scholar


Review paper Assigned

March 24

March 24

March 25*

March 26*

Using the SciFinder Scholar for the Writing Assignment 3


Bibliography of consulted resources due.

March 31st


April 3

March 31

Assignment 9: Material Safety Data Sheets

April 7

April 7

First drafts of Review Paper due Thursday April 14 by NOON

April 14

April 14

Peer Review of Summary Papers

Students will receive all the reviews of their paper.

2nd  draft, April 21

April 21

Assignment 10:  Learning Journal

April 28

April 29

Class discussion summing up the class

Review paper due electronically.



Final Exam Week – No Assignments – The course is finished!

             #  Except as noted, assignments are due by 11:59 PM on the date listed.  There is no

                 penalty for turning in an assignment early,