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CHE - Finding Chemical Information (Fall 2014): SciFinder

Using the online chemical and biochemical databases to find information.

What is SciFinder

SciFinder Scholar is the electronic version of the print publication "Chemical Abstracts". SciFinder Scholar comprehensively covers the world-wide literature of chemistry including journal articles, patents, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations, technical reports, government documents, etc. It allows users to search by research topic, author name, CA abstract number, patent number, chemical structure, molecular formula, chemical name, CAS registry number, functional groups in reactions, and bibliographic information, etc

Connect to SciFinder

SciFinder now allows multiple users but registration is required for each user.

Tips for Searching

Extensive training is available on the SciFinder web pages in Substance searching, reaction searching, reference searching and general search tips and techniques.

DUPLICATES: Since SciFinder searches CAplus and Medline, results are returned for both and there may be duplicates.  You may set preferences to automatically remove the duplicates or do so after looking at the results.  Set preferences also allows you to specify which search screen is chosen upon login.  If nothing is selected, the default is Explore references.

SEARCH LOGIC: There is more than one way to search for answers to a problem.  Explore references (research topic) allows you to ask your question in sentence form.  Add these words, "I am interested in" when you formulate your question.  Use prepositions such as after, among, at, between, from, in, into, on, upon, within rather than AND, use OR sparingly but NOT is OK.  You must use prepositions to break up your concepts.  For example: I am interested in the pK of 2-naphthol in the excited state.  In the search box, I would type: pK of 2-naphthol in the excited state.  [Note: when searching a chemical substance in Explore references, it is important to also include a search on the registry number for the most complete information.]  The results screen gives various options, whether closely related or present. Check off all of interest.

SciFinder's Explore references is unique in that the database automatically truncates certain words, looks for abbreviations and common misspellings, and looks for the plural or singular form (including complex plurals).  Be careful that you distribute your modifiers: not thyroid or adrenal cancer but thyroid cancer or adrenal cancer.  For hints on formulating your searches, see strategies for searching the database.

Another unique feature is the ability to search under a new term and get all references under the old term.  For example, DNA is now the accepted term for the concept of deoxyribonucleic acid.  The former term is used in the indexing of older materials but SciFinder will find all references to both terms.  Be careful!  If you search under deoxyribonucleic acid, you will not retrieve the all the articles indexed under the term DNA.  So look at the indexing for several articles of interest.  And to be sure all articles are retrieved, you may formulate a synonym search: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of pacific salmon. 

REFINING THE SEARCH: After you choose the answer set of interest, you can analyze the results and see, for example, what index terms were used or the publication year of the articles retrieved.  You may also categorize, based on the indexing CA uses or you may further refine the search.  Also you may retrieve articles that have cited your results (get citing) or the citing done in the articles retrieved (get cited).

FINDING AUTHORS/AFFILIATIONS: Explore author name allows you to find an author by entering what is known.  It is always best to allow the database to look for alternate spellings.  The results list will also include initials and full name and selections can be made from the list.

Explore company name must be used carefully.  Usually the affiliation of the first author is the only company name that is indexed.

SUBSTANCE SEARCHING: Explore substances searches the Registry database and can be accessed through drawing the structure, or searching either by molecular formula or substance identifier (common name or registry number).  The results are given in reverse registry number order.  When searching H2O, 47 references are retrieved as of mid-2010, with the substance of interest being last (the lowest registry number).

When you get a list of substances and choose the one of interest, there may be a chemical structure as well as regulatory information and properties of the substance along with references that index the substance and reactions using the substance.  (Click on substance detail.)  You can further analyze or refine your results.

If I wanted to do my topic above, pK of 2-naphthol in the excited state, I could start with the substance (which includes the registry number), get references (limiting before that step) and refine the results.

NAVIGATION: Use the breadcrumbs to navigate.  It is an easy way to go back and change your strategy.

Java Info for SF

This information comes from the CAS page on System requirements 

Java (JRE) Plug-In Requirements

Structure drawing requires a Java plug-in. A 64-bit version of Java is required for 64-bit browsers.

For all supported operating systems and browsers use Java version 1.6.0_31 or later.

Visit the Java test page to see if Java is working on your computer.

Information about downloading and installing Java is available at the download page.

Special Note for customers using SciFinder with Mac OS X: Installing Java and Enabling Java Applets in Mac OS X

A SciFinder Java FAQ is also available that explains hoe to detect what Java is installed and handle problems.