Frequently Asked Questions

Find what you need in our searchable FAQ.

How do I find information about a chemical element?

12 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Oct 25, 2018    elements chemical elements chemistry


When looking for information about a chemical element's discovery, properties, and use, the most helpful sources are books that provide broad overviews of all the elements, particularly encyclopedias or dictionaries. A few are listed below. The titles of eBooks are hyperlinks and those books that are only available physically in the library have the call number provided in parentheses after the title.

Van Nostrand's Encyclopedia of Chemistry (Ref QD 4 .V36 2005)

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (Ref QD 65 .C88 2016)

The Elements: A Very Short Introduction

The History and Use of Our Earth's Chemical Elements

Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements (546 E559n)

In order to locate peer-reviewed journal articles on a particular element, try searching in a multidisciplinary database, such as Academic Search Complete. Search the element name (for example, calcium) and element compound phrase (for example, "calcium compounds") as the subject. To further narrow the results, search for words or phrases in the article titles that are relevant to your assignment, using truncation where appropriate (for example, "physical properties" OR use* OR discover*). Limit to peer-reviewed articles by checking the labelled box. You may wish to limit by date range to only those articles published in the most recent 5 years. You can also limit by language and full text availability. Below is the result screen of a sample search using all the limiters mentioned. As you review articles, avoid those that appear too technical based on the title.

Sample search results screen:


Limiters applied: