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Finding Background Information

Reference works like dictionaries and encyclopedias, some of which are highly specialized, and websites from reliable sources, can be useful for:

  • an overview or background info on a topic
  • definitions
  • biographies of scholars in the field
  • bibliographies or reading lists
  • additional useful words, concepts, keywords and names related to the topic that you can use in your searching.


    Chemistry, structures and 3D molecules.
  • American Chemical Society
    The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a scientific society based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry.
  • Interactive Periodic table
    The Royal Society of Chemistry's interactive periodic table features history, alchemy, podcasts, videos, and data trends across the periodic table.
  • NIST Chemistry WebBook
    Provides the most comprehensive spectral data collections on the web.
  • Organic Chemistry Portal
    Offers an overview of recent topics, interesting reactions, and information on important chemicals for organic chemists.
  • Organic Synthesis
    Provides detailed, reliable, and carefully checked procedures for the synthesis of organic compounds.
  • Spectral Database for Organic Compounds
    SDBS is an integrated spectral database system for organic compounds.