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Chem 30A  

Last Updated: Nov 13, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Chemistry 30A

Inorganic Chemistry for Health Occupations

Getting to this page:

  • Go to the Library home page (
  • Under Library Instruction, click on Course Related Instruction, click on the + next to Chemistry, then click on the CHEM 30A link

Rule # 1: The Right Tool for the Job

  • Would you use a broom to brush your teeth?
  • Would you use Google to find out if the Cabrillo Library owned a particular book?

Think about the information you need, and then choose the right information tool!  What would you use to find information on pesticide use in the Watsonville strawberry fields? The Cabrillo library catalog, a scholarly magazine article database, or the Santa Cruz Sentinel website?

Finding Books in a Library Catalog -- A good place to start

Libraries come in all sizes and flavors, from a 10,000 volume small branch public library to a 10 million volume university library. To use a library catalog most effectively, you want to tailor your approach to the size and kind of library it is. With smaller libraries and public libraries, your best bet is often to use a broad general search (keyword, or word, or similar options). Using a large research library effectively, however, typically requires using official Library of Congress Subject Headings, as well as other available searching tools. Of course, no matter what tool you are using, a good search is an iterative one: search with the information you have, learn something (terms, spelling, concepts, etc.), then search again. Also, Subject Headings found in one catalog can almost always be used in another catalog to find more, or different, materials.

Let's look at a few library catalogs:

Rule # 2: Use What You Learn
  • The best searches are iterative ones: use what you have, learn something, then search again.
  • Are you sure of the spelling of your terms? Is there a medical term for your health topic?

Remember, use what you have, learn something, then search again.

Search Tips -- Techniques you can use most anywhere

One of the most powerful search tools is called Boolean searching, a fancy way of saying you can use AND, OR, and NOT logic.

Narrows a search, requiring more than one condition to be present. Broadens a search, used with synonyms or equivalent concepts. Narrows a search by excluding one or more terms. Use with caution...

This logic may look different in different search tools, but it always works as described above. You can often use parentheses to separate the concepts in your search to make sure the computer does not produce unintended results.

A few other key search techniques that can be used in many search tools:

  • Double-quotes, to force 2+ terms together (works almost everywhere), e.g."to be or not to be"
  • Truncation (often an asterisk), to search terms beginning with same letters (mostly catalogs & databases), e.g.educat*

Now let's see how these techniques can be used in various information sources:

  • Cabrillo Library Catalog, ProQuest & EBSCOhost databases: (california or oregon) and (exam* or test*) and "real estate"
  • Google search engine: california OR oregon exam OR test "real estate"

Rule # 3: Not Every Search Tool Is As Smart As Google - Not Even Google!
  • Google seems to always give you what you want - or does it just convince you to want what it gives you?
  • Most other search tools (library catalogs, magazine databases, etc.) have few "smarts" behind the scenes, so you have to be the smart one - big responsibility.
  • Garbage in, garbage out!

Don't surrender control of all of your searches to the tool you are using - Fight Mind Control!

Finding Magazine Articles -- General or specialized?

Databases come in many flavors. General databases cover lots of different subject areas and include both general and specialized audience information. Specialty databases focus on more specialized publications in one subject area. You find more specialized information as well as more specialized terms in specialty databases, the "insider lingo," different from the more general-audience publications and terms found in general databases.

Comparing ProQuest Newspapers and CINAHL Plus

  • From the library homepage (, click on Articles and Databases
  • First, under News click on ProQuest National Newspapers Core (a typical collection of newspaper articles)
    • Try these searches: shin splints compared to medial tibial stress syndrome
  • Next, under Health, Medicine, & Sciences, click on CINAHL Plus (a specialized medical database)
    • Try the same searches 


New Breed of Database: "Discovery" Tools, like SuperSearch

In addition to the usual assortment of subscription databases available from libraries, you will often find a "discovery" tool for searching multiple sources. Our "discovery" tool is called SuperSearch, and lets you search - at the same time - most of our online databases, our library catalog, and several open web resources. You can find SuperSearch under Find on the library home page, as well as on the Articles & Databases page. SuperSearch is a very powerful tool for finding information - but, as with any search tool, it should be used appropriately, and with an understanding of what it does well and what it doesn't.

SuperSearch is most effective:

  • When you need both books and articles on a topic
  • If your topic covers multiple subject areas, e.g. culture-specific medical practices
  • For very specialized topics (these tools often search the text of e-books, not just their titles)

SuperSearch is not so effective:

  • If your topic is covered primarily in news sources (our main newspaper databases are not included)
  • If you're easily overwhelmed by having too many sources from too many different places

Documenting Your Resources Using Style Guides

When you research a topic, you are likely to find and use many different sources, and different types of sources. Any quote you use, or concept you refer to from a source, should be referenced in the body of your report. The resources you actually use in your research paper are the ones that you should list at the end of your report. This list of resources is sometimes referred to as a bibliography, sometimes as a works cited list. The intent of this list is not just to show your instructor (or publisher) where you obtained your information, but also allows anyone reading your report to duplicate your research and find the sources you reference in your report. So, what information is necessary to include? And how do you format your quotes and your mentions of other works?

Style guides are sets of "rules" that explain what specific information to include, how to list sources, any special punctuation standards, and so on. Different fields of study typically use different style guide. For instance, English and literature classes typically use the MLA (Modern Language Association) style guide, and social science classes typically use the APA (American Psychological Association) style guide. You can find links to information on these and other style guides on the Citation & Style Guides page of the Library's Research Guides by Subject.

Rule # 4: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due.
  • Identify where your information from - not just quotes, but concepts and data, too!
  • Figure out the rules required for your project - MLA, APA, or something else - and follow them.
  • Never worry about memorizing these rules - they change!

Evaluating Websites -- Is this stuff any good?

Anyone can publish on the Web. Does that mean that anyone can produce good, reliable information? It is very important to evaluate what you find. In searching the web, you want to use resources that are not only current (if necessary) and relevant to your topic, but also from reliable, believable sources. Ask yourself questions like:

Chime & JMOL Exercises & Related Links

Georg Romero, 11/17


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