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SciFinder Guide: Home


What is SciFinder?

       SciFinder is a database of chemical and bibliographic information owned by Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), which is a division of the American Chemical Society. Most databases are bibliographic databases, which means that they offer records of text, however SciFinder offers additional tools, including searching for substances, reactions and patents. While SciFinder is mainly catered to chemistry, it can be a useful database for materials science, physics, environmental science and other science and engineering disciplines.

What is Available

  • References - Over 52 million bibliographic references from over one-thousand journals. Also includes patents, technical reports, textbooks, conference proceedings and dissertations. Maintains continuous coverage from 1907 to the present. Get the information you need when you need it with our unrivaled collection of the world’s most up-to-date chemistry and related science information found in journals, patents, dissertations and more. SciFinder is the only source that brings you information from early discovery through clinical trials with the combined coverage of CAplus and MEDLINE. And full-text is just a click away.
  • CAS Registry - Over 169 million unique organic and inorganic chemical substances, such as alloys, coordination compounds, minerals, mixtures, polymers and salts. Includes more than 68 million biosequences, which is more than any other database of its kind. Search for the CAS Registry Number for a quick search on substances, which works similarly to a DOI number, i.e. it's a unique identifier for an item in a database. Get access the world’s most trusted resource for substance information including chemical structures, chemical names, CAS Registry Numbers®, properties, commercial availability and regulatory information.
  • Reactions - Over 126 million reactions and synthetic preparations dating as far back as 1840. Best application for searching with the ChemDraw tool. Find dependable and current chemical reaction information from our extensive databases including reaction schemes, experimental procedures, conditions, yields, solvents, catalysts, as well as commercial availability of substances with direct links to leading producer and supplier sites.

How to Make an Account and Access

       Unlike most databases that PVAMU has access to, you must create a separate SciFinder account in order to access this database. Typically, you only need to be on-campus or sign on to your PVAMU account, but with SciFinder you must create another account using your PVAMU email address. Links supplied below.

       There are two versions available for students and faculty to use, SciFinder Scholar and SciFinderⁿ. SciFinder Scholar is the older version between the two, but it's also the version that is designed for professors and students. However, I would recommend using SciFinderⁿ because that is the most often updated and has features that SciFinder Scholar doesn't, such as a projective AI for reactions.

       To access SciFinderⁿ, go directly there via this link or find the link on the SciFinder Scholar page below.


CHEG 4472 Resources (Class Resources | Databases | Chemical Pricing Magazines)

Building a Search Strategy

        Building a search strategy starts with an understanding of Boolean logic in the context of querying. The most important aspect to understand is the difference between AND and OR statements. Joining two words or phrases with an AND statement will make it so that both segments must be in the resource that you're looking for. Joining two words or phrases with an OR statement will make it so that either segment can be present to pull a result from the query. For example, the statement "linear maps" AND "modeling" will need both of those statements present for the query to pull the result. An OR statement would be satisfied by either of those phrases.

       Now with an understanding of Boolean statements, we can talk about a search strategy. Searches are simple processes. By default, a simple keyword search will typically scan potential resource's metadata and full-text for a match. However, a search has no concept of the meaning of your words. This is why a combination of AND and OR statements is the best way to make the query more complex, thus retrieving more accurate results. I recommend opening a simple .txt file and typing in your initial key-word search. For an example, let's start with the search phrase "poison of the brown recluse." 1) Separate this phrase into multiple smaller phrases and take out the unnecessary words for the search. Your end result should look something like "brown recluse" "poison." 2) Now that we've separated our phrases, we can begin the part of the search strategy that will make this search a lot more robust, which is to find as much synonyms for each respective phrase as possible. 3) Finally, take your synonyms and pair them with each phrase respectively using OR statements. Then, match up your OR statements with ANDs. This will result in a query where the results will match up more to the meaning of your words than a simple scan of text and metadata. Here's what the end-result will look like in your text file (carriage returns unnecessary for logic but good for readability):

brown recluse OR loxosceles reclusa OR sicariidae OR violin spider OR fiddleback spider AND
poison OR toxin OR venom OR toxic OR toxicant

Narrowing Down Results (References)

       After you've pasted your text file into the fields and you've submitted your query, you should see more results than is reasonable to sift through entirely. Before even looking at your results, it's typically a good idea to narrow down your search with some query conditions located on the left.

  • Document Type - The type of medium that the resource is written in, e.g. journal, patent, review, book, etc...
  • Language - The language(s) that the resource is written in.
  • Publication Year - The year the resource was published.
  • Author - Author(s) accredited on a resources' records.
  • Organization - The organization that help create the resource and publish it, e.g. universities, corporations, scientific societies, etc...
  • Publication Name - The name of the publisher.
  • Concept - Metadata tags consisting of descriptors or genres.
  • Formulation Purpose - Metadata tags describing the motive of the thesis.
  • Database - Option to narrow down your search just to certain databases.
  • Search Within Results - Option to search within the results of previous query.

Save and Retrieve

       After creating a search strategy and narrowing down your results, SciFinder has an option that will allow you to save the results of your query. This is recommended due to the amount of time it takes for SciFinder to load all of your search conditions. You can save a pdf of an annotated bibliography to your local memory, you can email this pdf, or you can save it under your SciFinder account. I would recommend saving to your account as you are granted additional features, such as getting alerts when a new resource is released that meets the criteria of your search.

       To do this, first you must perform the query that you want to save. Then at the top right of the page, click where it says Save. You'll be able to name your query as well as give it tags and opting in for alerts. You can access all your saved searches by clicking on the star that is to the right of the magnifying glass in the search bar at the top right. In your saved searches, simply click Rerun Search to see the results again. You can also make edits to the query and then either save it as a new search or replace the existing one.


       Above is the SciFinderⁿ advanced search for bibliographic records and full-text. You can reach it by logging into your SciFinderⁿ account, selecting "References" in the "Searching for..." column on the left, and then selecting Advanced Search located beneath the normal search bar. You can also click here or the image above, but remember you must make a SciFinder account and log in first. In SciFinder’s advanced reference search, you can search for an author, query inside of a journal, or search for an organization.

       This search often is more narrow than a regular search. However, if you want to narrow down your search, follow the same directions as you would with the normal reference search under the Search Strategies tab.

Draw Search

       A draw search is a query made by a molecular drawing of a chemical substance or reaction. Draw searches are useful because you can search for the exact drawing, use your drawing as the base for resulting substances or reactions, or search for all similar substances or reactions. For this section, the draw tool will be used to query reactions.

       The video above is a good tutorial presented by SciFinder that shows you how to draw with their tool. However, if you ever used ChemDraw or anything similar it should be fairly intuitive. However, if you're unfamiliar with the software and don't care to learn, you can import chemical drawings by entering in their CAS Registry Number.

Narrowing Down Results (Reactions)

       After clicking the search button, its evident that the reactions results page is different than the reference results page. Even before going to the "Filter by" section for limiters, there are a couple features that make searching for reactions via drawing unique.

  • Structure Match - Here you can select "As Drawn," "Substructure," or "Similarity." As drawn will only populate reactions that you drew exactly. Substructure will populate the structure the results with the exact reaction that you drew as well as more complex reactions that use your drawing as a base. Similarity will not require that the drawing be the substructure, but instead has its own algorithm for determining whether it's similar.
  • Group By - Here there are two options, to group by scheme (drawing) or to group by document. If you're looking for full-texts, I would recommend sorting by document here.

Filter by

  • Yield - The efficiency of the reaction from reactant to product.
  • Number of Steps - Amount of steps it takes from get from reactant to product.
  • Non-Participating Functional Groups - Grouping that is characteristic of a class of compounds and determines properties and reactions.
  • Experimental Protocols - Any experimental protocols included in reaction.
  • Reaction Type  - Select different types of reactions among results.
  • Reagent - Include a reagent in the reaction.
  • Catalyst - Include a catalyst in the reaction.
  • Solvent - Include a solvent in the reaction.
  • Commercial Availability - If the products in the reaction are commercially available.
  • Reaction Notes - Metadata tags used to describe the reaction.
  • Search Within Results - Same as reference search, search for a keyword within your results.

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