GUIDELINES FOR LITERATURE SEARCH PAPERS IN CHEMISTRY OR BIOCHEMISTRY
(This document is available for download (Word for Windows format) at
or from the link on the Department’s web page :
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry encourages graduate students to pursue the laboratory research/thesis option, but recognizes that this may not be possible for some students. Therefore we offer the Graduate Literature Search option as an alternative way to meet the research requirement for the M.S. degree. Students should therefore recognize that the project is a serious undertaking of a research nature.
1. Normally the Graduate Literature search is the last degree requirement to be completed.
It is not advisable for a student to be doing more than one other course during the
semester he/she is registered for the Literature Search, unless a full-time student.
The student is to discuss with at least one member of the graduate faculty of the
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry concerning doing a Literature Search with
him/her as the advisor. Graduate faculty members are: Dr. Humphrey, Dr. Kasner, Dr.
Isidor, Dr. Delaney, Dr. De Silva, Dr. Whitener, Dr. Dyer, Dr. Chapman , Dr. Bailey, and
Dr. Del Carlo. Their areas of expertise are as follows:
Dr. Bailey Analytical and Environmental
Dr. Chapman Organic Chemistry
Dr. De Silva Organic Chemistry, Bio-organic Chemistry
Dr. Del Carlo Chemical Education
Dr. Delaney Biochemistry, Protein Chemistry, Genetic Techniques
Dr. Dyer Biochemistry
Dr. Humphrey Analytical Chemistry, Instrumentation
Dr. Isidor Organic Chemistry, Spectroscopic Techniques and Chromatography
Dr. Kasner Physical Chemistry and Radiochemistry
Dr. Whitener Inorganic Chemistry, Crystallography, Bioinorganic Chemistry
We encourage students who do not have a specific topic in mind to consult with more
than one faculty member: the requirement is to have a thorough discussion with at least
one faculty member
You can get a felling for the faculty’s expertise and research interests by visiting the
department’s research page:
or the faculty member’s personal web page which may be accessed from the
department’s home page:
The student should obtain a copy of the pre-approval signature sheet from the
department secretary (also appended here) and obtain the signature of the faculty
member(s) at the time of these discussions. The topic which is decided upon for the
literature search, the name of the advisor and at least one reader should be indicated on
the sheet. The sheet should be turned in to the Graduate Advisor to be placed in the
2. The topic for the literature search must fall within the area of expertise of the faculty
member who will serve as the student’s advisor. The topic chosen can come from
suggestions made by the faculty member, or from a topic suggested by the student, so long as it represents a new project for the student, and is agreed to by the faculty member.
These discussions must take place prior to the registration date for the semester in which the student will register for the literature search. It is not necessary to register for the literature search course before work is begun: in fact, for most students it is beneficial to work for a semester, or portion thereof, and then to register for the course officially once work is nearing completion. Registration for this course includes submission to the Registrar of an Independent Study Form, which must be submitted at the time of registration, and includes several signatures, including that of the Department Chair. These can be obtained from the department secretary.
3. The student may carry out a computer search of the literature in the subject area of the literature search as part of his/her search. If this is done, the computer printout will be appended to the copy of the literature search paper given to the student’s advisor, but copies need not be appended to the copies of the paper given to the reader(s) or graduate advisor: these faculty members may refer to the printout, if they wish, by contacting the student’s advisor.
4. The subject chosen for the literature search should be such that the majority of the references will come from the traditional Chemistry and/or Biochemistry Journals. In most cases, these should be recent references (within the past 10 years). The student must meet with his advisor after doing an initial search of the literature in order to confirm that the references are of the accepted type.
5. The student should expect to meet with his advisor a minimum of three times during the course of preparation of the paper. It is not advisable to do the entire project without consultation with the advisor, as it is possible to put a lot of work into an unsuitable topic this way.
6. Although the scope of the project is to be agreed upon by the student and the advisor, it
would usually be anticipated that such a project would lead to the review of 30-50 articles. The review should be as fully inclusive of the literature in the field as is possible: if a computer search generates too large a number of references, then the student and advisor should narrow the scope of the project and repeat the search.
7. In order to allow for adequate time for reviewing of the paper, the student should aim to have a draft of the paper in the hands of his/her advisor at about the midpoint of the semester. The final paper, after approval by the student’s advisor, should be in the hands of the reader(s) no later than one month before the end of the semester.
8. When the student’s advisor and reader(s) have approved the written final paper, a seminar, approximately 30 to 45 minutes in length, will be scheduled to be given before the end of regular classes (not exam week or summer) at a time agreed upon by the student, advisor and Graduate Advisor. It is the responsibility of the student and his/her advisor, not of the graduate advisor, to initiate the scheduling of the seminar. The time chosen should optimize the ability for other graduate students and faculty members to attend the seminar. The student and his advisor will agree on the content of the seminar, in terms of how it relates to the written paper. Satisfactory completion of the seminar will be considered as having satisfied the Comprehensive Examination requirement for the M.S. degree. The Graduate Advisor will fill out the Comprehensive Examination form after all degree requirements, including the seminar, have been completed and submit it to the Graduate Studies Office. If the Graduate Advisor is unable to attend the seminar, it will be the responsibility of the student’s advisor to inform the Graduate Advisor of the successful completion of the seminar requirement.
FORMAT: The paper must be typed. Use of a word processing program is encouraged. The format for the written paper should follow guidelines as found in “The ACS Style Guide” by
Janet S. Dodd.
1. Cover Page: In addition to the title of the paper, this page should include the words
“submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree”, the
author’s name, the date, and then names and signature plus date lines for advisor,
reader(s) and Graduate Advisor. See appended sample.
2. Abstract: This should be about 100 words in length.
3. Body of the paper, to include an Introduction and Conclusion. Each section should have
an appropriate heading. References cited should refer to the Bibliography in an
accepted manner as described in the ACS Style Guide. This can be alphabetical by
author name, or by number.
4. Bibliography: The references cited should be listed in numerical order, or alphabetical
order, depending on the method chosen in the body of the paper. They must follow
accepted format as suggested in the ACS Style Guide.
5. In some instances it may also be appropriate to list references referred to but not cited.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Montclair State University
Upper Montclair, NJ
Graduate Literature Search Pre-approval Sheet
_________________________(name of student) has been seen me to discuss the possibility of doing a Graduate Literature Search with me as the advisor. I have determined I am an appropriate advisor for the area in which this student wishes to do the Literature Search paper.
Topic Decided Upon for Literature Search:
The following faculty member(s) will be asked to serve as reader(s) of this paper and informed of their role by the advisor. Normally readers will be from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, unless the Literature Search topic is of a nature where a faculty member from another department at Montclair State University would be more knowledgeable in this area.
I certify that I have not previously undertaken a project to do with my employment or education in which I performed a literature search, or wrote a paper, in this area. I understand that I should meet with my advisor at regular intervals at least three times during the course of preparation of this paper.
Student: Please return this completed sheet to the Graduate Advisor.
A Literature Search submitted to the Faculty of
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Montclair State University
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
Master of Science
Approved by _____________________________ Date_____________________________
Mark Whitener, Graduate Advisor