Selecting a Topic for Chem 398

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Maintained by Harry E. Pence, Professor of Chemistry, SUNY Oneonta, for the use of his students. Any opinions are totally coincidental and have no official en endorsement, including the people who sign my pay checks. Comments and suggestions are welcome (

Last Revised January 20, 2003

1. Are you currently doing an independent study in some area where you would like to learn more about the topic. (Your research should not be the main part of the paper, but itŐs OK to do related work, which would include some reference to your research.)

2. Is there some current topic that you would like to learn more about (i.e. acid rain, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, etc.)?

3. The key concern is to make the topic narrow enough to cover in only twenty minutes, but broad enough to fill in that amount of time. Start with a topic that is too broad and narrow it down.

4. If you have no idea, begin by looking at referred journals to find a good paper. If you can narrow it down to at least a general field, consider the following sources. Be sure to pick a typical article, not a communication or a review article. The former is too short; the latter is too long.

analytical chemistry Analytical Chemistry
biochemistry Biochemistry
clinical chemistry see Dr. Schaumloffel
environmental chemistry Environmental Science and Technology
inorganic chemistry Inorganic Chemistry
organic chemistry see Dr. Knauer or Dr. Armstrong
physical chemistry see Dr. Chiang or Dr. Miller
general publications Angewandte Chemie, Journal of Chemical Education, Nature, or Science

5. Once you have a broad topic selected, go to the literature to find other papers that concerns this topic. Your final paper should consist of about half explanatory material and half material from the article. If you find part of the article too hard to understand, you may omit that.

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