Identifying the state of the art consists in "seeking all information, formal or informal publications, discoveries, innovations and inventions on all the latest scientific, technical, economic breakthroughs as well as former research work related to the field you will be working in".
Below you will find an overview of the main databases which allow you to identify the state of the art. These databases are freely accessible on the Internet
This list does not claim to be exhaustive. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.
Literature on patent Law
http://ep.espacenet.com/ (European Patent Office)http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html (American patent office)http://www.ipdl.inpit.go.jp/ (Japanese Patent Office)http://www.freepatentsonline.com/ http://www.google.com/patents
http://www.wipo.int (World intellectual property organisation)
http://www.gopubmed.org/ http://www.scirus.com/ http://scholar.google.be/ http://academic.live.com (partially covered topic)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/gquery (possibility to search several databases)http://clusty.com/ (utilise various search engines)http://www.archive.org/ (internet archive)http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ (Chemistry)http://www.pubmed.org (medicine)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Entrez/ (combination of several search engines)
You can also contact one of the centers of Belgian network PATLIB