Each Spring, Jeremy Garritano teaches Chemistry 513: Chemical Information Sources. Garritano is an Associate Professor of Library Science here at Purdue, and in his role as Chemical Information Specialist at the MG Mellon Library of Chemistry he works as liaison between the library and the Chemistry department, teaching this undergraduate seminar. In it, he helps provide important information literacy training and instruction through a mix of largely “hands on,” in-class activities and some lecturing.
Guiding the students through a combination of team-based activities and his own knowledge and expertise, Garritano frames students’ classroom experience to effectively cultivate students’ understanding and practice of productive research skills within the sciences. He endeavors to lead students beyond some of the default approaches to searching for information–e.g., beyond mere keyword searches in Google or Wikipedia. Of course, he does not disparage the initial impulses students have toward these popular tools. Instead, he stresses their value and treats them as an important foundation on which to build in order to facilitate more efficient and sophisticated methods of research (such as numerical property searching and image-based chemical compound and reaction searches) and to encourage using available databases for research (such as SciFinder and Reaxys).
In addition to learning about such practices and sources for chemistry research, students develop more nuanced understandings of the primary and secondary research sources available to them. They move beyond the encyclopedic entries available to them through sources like Wikipedia, to learning how to incorporate patents and peer-reviewed articles into their work.
The course culminates in a final project: a team of about three students collaborate to investigate the scholarship of Purdue science professors and finally develop a poster based on their findings. At the end of the semester, these posters are put on display and Purdue faculty and graduate students are invited to their showing.