Skip to main content

CHEM 1201 Assignment Introduction & Overview

Watch the video below for a details of your assignment and an overview of this guide.

 

The Assignment

Click on a scenario below to open a worksheet for your chemical. Use the sheet to guide you through your research and to record the answers to the questions. You can type your answers right onto the worksheet and save it as a Google Doc. There are two different assignments you will need to complete (one is a scenario where you are working in a lab and the other is about communicating scientific information to a non-scientific audience).

NOTE: If you have questions about requirements, due dates, submission, or the science you encounter in this assignment contact your Lab Instructor!

Question 1: is asking you to think about the information you might be looking for, it should be a quick answer but be specific, if you were thinking about a WHMIS what specific details would you be interested in? (I am always curious to see if the chemicals I am about to use explode at room temperature!).  This is meant to help you to focus on what you need when you encounter a large quantity of information on a topic and should help you quickly sort out what is relevant or not.

Question 2: This is the main part of the assignment and you should expect to include about 1-2 pages of bullet points of actual details about your chemical.  You are not limited to the information you identified in question 1 or the two resources you identified in 2.a., you will want to capture all the information you would bring back to your lab team.  The Databases and E-Encyclopedia tabs, in the Recommended Sources of Information section below, contain all the Librarian recommended resources you will need to answer this question. You do not need to cite in Part 1, but you may want to record where you retrieved your information from in case you decide to use that information in Part 2

Question 3: This question has two parts and is a bit more complex than it appears initially.  Use the Evaluating Sources and Websites tabs below to help you out.

This is not a lab report, you have some creative license here to create a scenario and role for yourself, are you working for a chemical manufacturer, a concerned citizen who knows science, work in transportation, or for the city/municipality/government? You will need to think about your audience (hint, they are everyday people, not scientists) and adjust your terminology. There are some examples of this type of writing in the Real World Examples tab at the bottom of this page.

You will need to paraphrase to ensure you understand the science, show your instructor you understand the science, and to avoid plagiarism; some paraphrasing help is available in the Paraphrasing Help and Paraphrasing Exercises tabs at the bottom of this page.

You will need to cite this part of the assignment (both in-text and with a reference list at the end).  There are some citation resources linked in the ACS Citation tab at the bottom of this page.  

Recommended sources of information

* These resources will get you started. If you need more information, try some of the other recommended chemistry sources listed on the Background Sources tab.


CCOHS -Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. An educational collection of databases focused on environmental and occupational health and safety. Check out the CHEMINFO and MSDS databases. The concentration of your chemical matters, if a concentration is listed make sure you find the corresponding concentration; if no concentration is listed on your chemical use the highest concentration you can find. Watch the CCOHS video below for a demonstration on using this resource for this assignment. 

PubChem.  Once you are in a record, use the table of contents on the right-hand side of the page to navigate to relevant sections. Watch the PubChem video below for a demonstration on how to use this resource for your assignment.

 

 

Watch the Ullmann's Encyclopedia video below for a demonstration on how to use electronic encyclopedias for this assignment.

 

Your answer to question 3 requires a rationale for your choice of website and is a bit more complex than it initially might seem.  There is some assistance in the next tab: Websites to help you actually find sites, but first it is worth thinking about how you are going to evaluate the websites in your results lists.  Use the criteria below to assist you in finding websites and writing your rationale paragraph:

Authority

What: Consider the author (and his or her credentials), the institution or agency responsible for the content.

How: Look for an "About us" link that may help you find out who supports the website and what standards the content may be subject to.

Purpose

What: Consider the purpose of the information. Is it to inform? persuade? state an opinion? entertain? parody?  

How: Navigate around the website or check the "About us" page for additional clues

Objectivity

What: What is the purpose of the website? Why did the author create this article?

How: Look for inflammatory language, misleading or deceptive arguments, stereotypes, commercial or organisational interests, advertisements or any other clues that the information may be biased. 

Accuracy

What: Does the information agree with what you have read elsewhere? Are the authors knowledgeable in the topic?

How: Consider author credential or place of employment and what group takes responsibility for website. Look for references to the origin of the information. Even better, is there a reference list?

Currency

What: How current is the information and when was it last updated? The importance of currency varies depending on the topic and the type of information.

How: Many dead links in a website may mean the content has not been recently reviewed. 

There is a lot of good information on chemicals available on the internet and there is also a lot more not-so-good information out there.  Now that you are equipped with your evaluation criteria from the previous tab, you can start assessing what you are finding in Google searches. 

Following are a couple of ways to reduce the less relevant information:

1.  Google works like other databases, if you have more than one word in your terminology, hold it together as a phrase using quotation marks e.g. "percholoric acid" 

2. Limit to more reputable or authoritative websites such as government or university sites by entering the term site with a full colon after it and the part of the URL that matches those institutions.  Some exapmles of places to start are listed below:

site:gov                 Limits to US government websites 
site:gc.ca
              Limits to Canadian government websites
site:edu                 Limits to US university websites
site:ac.uk              Limits to UK university websites

3.  To remove items from your search (i.e. pubchem) you can use a minus sign - before the terms you would like to limit out of your search.

--> So your search would look like "perchloric acid" site:gov -pubchem

 

Here is a Google search box for you to start your search: 

 

Watch the Google search video below for a demonstration on how to use Google more effectively to complete your assignment.

Citation and Paraphrasing

The MRU ACS Citation Guide can be a good resource for citation for your assignment.  The Reference List Examples section includes some of the resources you'll need for this assignment e.g. MSDS and e-encyclopedias.

Watch the video below for more information on how to use the MRU Library ACS Citation Guide page.


If you require more help with ACS try the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication website 

To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing / summarising remember these five important points:

1) Your paraphrased text should be significantly different from the original (i.e. don't just change a few words here and there)

2) You must change the structure of the sentence or paragraph you are paraphrasing, not just the words.

3) If you use anyone else's words verbatim (word for word) you need to put quotation marks around it.Warning: Quotations are rarely used in the sciences

4) Use proper citation methods (in this case use ACS) to give credit for the idea's, opinions or theories you are presenting.

5) Check that you have preserved the original meaning of the text in your paraphrased version

Here are some real world examples of letters written by concerned citizens about the use of industrial chemicals in their neighborhood.

Concerns about pesticide use

Opinion: How Has this pesticide not been banned?


Here are some examples of statements from industry

A statement from Dow Canada concerning safety

A statement from Nova Chemicals about safety

Product summaries from Chevron Phillips

Information update from Health Canada - Boric Acid - includes health and safety information but in a less technical format than a Safety Data Sheet

.

Kalen Keavey's picture
Kalen Keavey

Contact: