How to do research in Chemistry

Library resources for researchers working on general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and physical chemistry


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Aspirin
  • Coronavirus Research
  • Characterization of SARS-CoV2


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

SciFinder-n (via HarvardKey) – The top database for scholarship in this field. Search tip: begin with two or three concepts. It is better to retrieve a large set of results, then use the Analyze or Refine options to increase search specificity.

WebCSD (via HarvardKey) – A world repository of small molecule crystal structures. The database holds bibliographic, 2D and 3D structures of organics, organometallics and metal complexes. 


Our guide to Chemistry and Chemical Biology Resources provides a helpful overview of chemistry databases, such as SciFinder-n, WebCSD, PubMed, and Reaxys. The guide also provides resources for using citation management tools and retrieving patent information.



Tina Helt, the library liaison to Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is available to support researchers via email or in-person consultation.

Service Alert:
  • Some Harvard Library locations will be closed or have special hours for Commencement, Thursday, May 26. Please check the Library Hours page for specifics. Ask a Librarian and chat hours will remain as usual.
  • Most Harvard Library locations will be closed Monday, May 30 and Tuesday, May 31, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Ask a Librarian and chat service will be closed on these dates.
  • If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during these times, please report it to Library Technology Services.



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Chat is intended for brief inquiries from the Harvard community.


Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

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