Chemistry 350


CHEM 350
Chemistry Research Methods

1. Catalog Entry

CHEM 350
Chemistry Research Methods

Credit hours (2)
Prerequisites: CHEM 301 or permission of instructor

Course to enhance student skills often used in chemistry research and advanced courses including an introduction to the chemical literature, literature search engines specifically designed for chemistry, reference and research management tools, word processors and spreadsheets for scientific applications, chemical structure drawing software, and data analysis/graphing software. Through the use of specific literature case studies, the students will be exposed to current research, master the techniques needed to prepare high quality research reports, and learn the skills needed to prepare poster and oral presentations.

2. Detailed Description of Course

This required course for chemistry promotes the development of skills to better prepare students for success in undergraduate research and in upper level chemistry courses. The overall objective of the course is to fully analyze a specific research problem as published in the literature and develop the necessary technical skills to produce a similar high quality research report. After first providing an introduction to the assigned research problem, students will learn to:

    1) Use chemistry related search engines such as SciFinder to review the current literature to assess the current state of the research problem.
    2) Master tools designed to manage references and use them effectively to support research.
    3) Develop critical reading skills to become familiar with the language, style, and format of the chemical literature.
    4) Advance their knowledge of word processing programs for scientific applications including management of figures, tables,
        mathematical equations, references and templates.
    5) Learn new techniques using common spreadsheets like Excel to perform scientific data analysis.
    6) Learn to master the basics of Origin or other appropriate advanced data analysis and graphing software to tackle more complex
        analytical problems.  
    7) Draw chemical structures and reaction schemes using ChemDraw or appropriate software.
    8) Learn how to disseminate scientific results through the preparation of posters and oral presentations.

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Students will meet for three hours a week, primarily in the computer laboratory. Each group will be assigned a recent literature article to review which will serve as a case study for the entire semester. In the first few weeks, students will focus on the nature of the research problem, the style and format of research reports, how a review of the current literature is conducted, and how to manage references for use in scientific reports. The second phase will focus on the specifics of how a research report is constructed requiring students to use document and equation formatting, proper figure and table preparation, and the use of templates to simplify tasks. ChemDraw will be used to draw chemical structures and reaction schemes and quality figures will be constructed from raw data using curve fits to specific linear and non-linear models. By the end of the semester, every component in the original manuscript will have been constructed by students in the course. After completion, students will use these works to prepare posters and oral presentation slides. Students will present an oral presentation to the class during the final week to demonstrate their mastery of the course content and also present an example of a current research problem from the literature.

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

After successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:
    1) Better understand the style and format of the scientific literature and be better prepared to produce a simple research report.
    2) Understand how to search the scientific literature as it pertains to a specific research topic.
    3) Produce a quality research report using advanced word processing techniques including the preparation of tables, figures,
        equations, and photographs.
    4) Produce a quality research report using the ability to draw chemical structures and reaction schemes, employ software appropriately to
        correctly analyze and accurately display results, and correctly format these for use in a research report.
    5) Effectively communicate results through the preparation of both a poster presentation and oral presentation.
    6) Demonstrate awareness of current research topics in chemistry through exposure to the wide range of case studies used by students in
       this course.


5. Assessment Measures

Assessment of the student’s success in the course will be based on both in-class and outside-of-class assignments that may include, completed tutorials, handouts and videos, homework/quizzes, poster and oral presentation (including a peer assessment component), or a laboratory practical to assess final skills level in the course.

6. Other Course Information

None.

Review and Approval