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CHE 230: Chemical Analysis

This guide includes resources helpful to students working on the CHE 230 Library Assignment

Step 1: Developing a Research Question

Developing a research question is actually a multistep process. Work through these three steps first, and then you can refine your research question to fit your specific situation.

  1. Understand your assignment and understand the research process
  2. Choose your topic
  3. Write your research question


Your next step is to briefly describe your project, in both broad and specific terms.

  • Broadly, what is your topic? How would you describe your research to someone who has never taken a Chemistry class? 
  • Specifically, how would you fill in this sentence: “I’d like to analyze ___________(analyte) in ______________ (sample).”


Aren't sure what your topic should be?  Check out the following journals to see what research is currently being conducted in the field.

Step 2: Creating Context

Once you have chosen your topic and written your research question, it's time to generate keywords, gather background information, and create some context for what you find.

Consider your analyte and sample carefully to generate keywords for use in your search. What synonyms might be useful? Are there more field-specific terms or phrases you might use?

1. Brainstorm at least 2-3 alternative words or phrases for both your analyte and your sample.


2. Using your keywords, search at least two of the sources provided below for information related to your proposed analyte(s) and/or sample(s).  

Not finding what you need? Finding too much? Review the library's Tips & Tricks for Effective Research!


3. Locate three articles that provide information related to your proposed research.  For each article, briefly describe the relevant information. Now, review the abstract, title, and subject/keywords listed in each article to see if they contain other keywords you might search. What about the works cited in the article - could those be useful to you?

Remember, research is an iterative process.  Each time you find a useful source, you want to review its keywords and citations to see if it leads to other useful sources.

Step 3: Developing Analysis Methodology

It is important to find a method/procedure from which to base your research.  In most cases, this type of information may not be published in the primary literature because the methods are well established.  Refer to secondary sources for established procedures (i.e., Method Handbooks, standard methods, or online “application notes”).

Find two different sources (one print resource and one electronic or web resource) for analytical methods related to your proposed research. 

Cite these two sources and briefly describe the method, noting the instrumentation and techniques used for the analysis.

Here are a few possible electronic sources. For possible print sources, see the list to the left.