Information Competencies for Chemistry Undergraduates/Introduction

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) Chemistry Division Ad Hoc Committee on Information Literacy was appointed in 2004 and published the first edition of Information Competencies for Chemistry Undergraduates: The Elements of Information Literacy in January 2007, as written and edited by Cory Craig and Linda Maddux. In 2011, this document was revised by Marion Peters, Grace Baysinger, and Cory Craig in consultation with the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Chemical Information (CINF) Education Committee, and members from the SLA Chemistry Division. The second edition was published in May 2011 following approval by ACS CINF and the SLA Chemistry Division, and updated and reissued in September 2011. As of July 2012, the current version is available on Wikibooks at Future revisions, link changes, and development of the document will be more immediate, and greatly improved, by the Wikibooks format.

The information competencies included encompass skills and knowledge that undergraduates should have by completion of a bachelor's degree in chemistry. Students who achieve proficiency in these areas will have a firm understanding of how to navigate the scientific and chemical literature, and will be well-prepared for graduate study or employment as a chemist.

The document is divided into four sections as listed below plus supplemental readings and an index of recommended resources.

  1. Big Picture: The Library and Scientific Literature;
  2. Chemical Literature;
  3. Properties, Spectra, Crystallographic, and Safety Information;
  4. Scientific Communication and Ethical Conduct

Each section includes specific information competencies that students should develop and identifies recommended resources. Resources listed are provided as suggested titles as we realize that all resources will not be available at every institution, and that similar resources not listed may be appropriate as well. Similarly, students do not need to know every recommended resource but should be able to use their acquired skills to find information by using the resources available to them. Resources can be in any format; however, ideally students should have significant experience using both online databases and print resources.

Librarians and other educators who work with chemistry undergraduates are the intended audience for this document. Our expectation is that this document can be used to:

  1. Improve chemistry undergraduate instruction;
  2. Facilitate acquisition and assessment of information literacy skills by chemistry undergraduates;
  3. Provide a list of recommended resources for libraries working with chemistry undergraduates;
  4. Serve as a bridge between the ACS Committee on Professional Training (CPT) Undergraduate Professional Education in Chemistry: ACS Guidelines and Evaluation Procedures for Bachelor’s Degree Programs (2015) and information literacy standards developed by the American Library Association (ALA) Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and its Science and Technology Section (STS) including: ALA/ACRL/STS Information Literacy Standards for Science and Engineering/Technology (2006), and ALA/ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (2000).
  5. Assist as a resource for developing subject-specific information literacy standards in related scientific disciplines.

It is expected that this document will be updated regularly, as circumstances warrant. Comments on this document should be directed to: