I'm writing a literature review on synthesis and biological activity of some organic compounds, and half the references I found on SciFinder are patents. Are patents typically included in literature reviews of this sort?
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Everything is included in the literature search including patents. It depends on how deep you wish to search, where you wish to stop and which range of years you would like to focus. Papers, reviews, patents, books, monographs, conference proceedings, handbooks, MS/PhD theses, technical reports, etc., are all part of a formal literature search. You should not include unreliable sources like internet pages until and unless the author is known to be scientifically reliable. Wikipedia should also be the last resort...it is an excellent beginning for a topic search. A good reference list includes seminal papers (earliest ones) and the latest ones, emphasizing the recent ones.