Content and SearchingWhat is SciFinder?
How often is the database updated?
How does the Research Topic query work?
Does it search the full text?
Can I turn off auto-truncation?
How are records sorted?
What does the Analyze feature do?
How can I narrow a substance answer set?
How do I search by chemical name?
How do I paste a Registry structure into the drawing module?
How do I search for the preparation of a compound?
How do I search by molecular formula?
How do I search for salts?
How do I search for organometallics?
How do I search for polymers?
How do I search for labelled compounds?
What is Precision Analysis?
How can I remove multicomponent substances?
How do I find property values for a compound?
Can I search by chemical property data?
How do I locate spectra for a compound?
How do I locate commerical suppliers?
Can I find current regulatory data?
Why do some compounds have zero references?
How do I search by chemical reaction?
Where does the reaction information come from?
Can I search by cited reference?
Does it cover older literature?
Can I search by printed CA abstract number?
Does CA cover translation journals?
What patents does CAS cover?
How can I remove patents from my results?
What are Markush structures?
How can I remove Medline records from my results?
Can I set up Alerts?
Can I save answer sets?
What is SciPlanner?
Should I use SciFinder or Reaxys?
Should I use SciFinder or Web of Science?
AccessWho can use SciFinder?
How do I register for a search account?
Why do I have to register?
What if I don't use my utexas.edu email account?
Can I use my old login?
Can I share an account?
When is it available?
Can I use it from off campus?
Can I use it in the library?
Can I use it on my smartphone?
What happened to the client version?
Getting to Full TextDoes it link to full text of articles?
Does it link to e-books?
Does it include ACS meeting abstracts?
Can I view patents?
How can I translate journal abbreviations to full titles?
Technical SupportWhat browsers are supported?
Troubleshooting your web browser (Java)
Are there alternative structure editors?
Security Certificate Errors
Inactivity time out
Can I import records into EndNote?
Is there a way to email records to my colleagues?
Summary: The Research Topic option is meant to be user-friendly and inclusive, and to retrieve good results for almost all types of queries. It is not really designed to be a highly precise search mechanism for expert searchers. For more information, consult SciFinder's Help pages.
SciFinder does not sort reference answers by "relevance" algorithms. To increase relevance you can select the "closely associated with each other" set from the results histogram before displaying your answers, or you can use the Refine, Analyze, and Categorize functions to narrow and focus a results set.
Substance records are default-sorted by relevance, which should bring the closest matches to the top. It is also useful to re-sort by Number of References, which will bring the best-known and most-cited substances to the top. You can re-sort by reverse Registry Number, which means that the most recently reported substances - which usually have few or no references - are on top.
Another way to analyze a reference result set is to use the Categorize feature. Choose a broad subject category from the list on the left, then select one or more CA index terms from the right side and view just those records. This technique utilizes the power of CAS' controlled indexing vocabulary and works very nicely for filtering large answer sets.
You can analyze a substance answer set by real-atom attachments, variable group and R-group, precision, ring skeletons, and stereochemical precision. This helps narrow down a large substance answer set to zero in on structures of particular interest.
If you are searching by drawing a chemical reaction, you can analyze a reaction result set by catalyst, solvent, number of steps, product yield, as well as bibliographic data such as author, journal, year, document type, etc. You can also group reactions by transformation type, and re-sort by frequency.
See the CAS Training page for more details.
It's straightforward to search by well-known common names (ex. acetic acid, cyclohexane, acetaminophen), familiar trade names (ex. Taxol), and common abbreviations (ex. MTBE). Searching systematic names is less reliable because of the many possible variations in a name string. In general, the longer the systematic name the less likely you'll find it by typing it exactly.
SciFinder looks first for an exact match to the name as you type it. If it finds an exact match, it displays only that compound, and no others. For example, if you search for "Gallopamil" it will retrieve the one compound that has that exact name, but it will NOT retrieve compounds where "Gallopamil" is a segment of a longer name, such as "Gallopamil hydrochloride" (or any salts or multicomponent compounds).
If it doesn't find an exact match, it next looks for the string you entered as a segment within a name. It will retrieve all such partial matches. For long names, you'll have a better chance of getting a hit if you break it up into discrete segments than if you type it all as a single unbroken string. SciFinder will retrieve all the compounds that have names including all the segments, and you can browse these for the one you want. If you get too many hits, add locants to some segments to narrow the possibilities. For example, to search for
2-(3-buten-1-yl)-2,3,4,9-tetrahydro-1H-Pyrido[3,4-b]indole-1-carboxylic acidtype some of the identifiable functional group segments, in any order, separated by spaces:
3-buten-1-yl 2,3,4,9-tetrahydro 1H-pyrido 1-carboxylicand you'll get a table of matches to browse. It is not currently possible to browse an alphabetical index of names in SciFinder.
As with all chemical database tools, the chemical name is not the ideal way to search for a compound because of the complexity and inconsistency of chemical nomenclature and the diversity of synonyms and trade names used in the literature. Never rely on a name search when doing a comprehensive search for a compound. The rule of thumb is, when in doubt, draw it!
Molecular formula searches often retrieve large numbers of hits. You can use the Analyze/Refine tool and draw part of the structure to narrow them down, or try another kind of search.
This unique format of formula parsing is based on the sorting in the old CA printed formula indexes, where all salts of a particular acid would be grouped under the parent acid's alphabetic formula. This policy doesn't make as much sense in the digital environment, but it is still the operating principle.
You can also search for salts by drawing the exact structure of either the free acid or the base, or both together as separate fragments. Since MF is an exact search, a search for the simple salt will not also find any hydrates. A hydrate can be searched by adding the . N H2O as a third component separated by the dot.
For a more extensive overview of searching for inorganic substances, go here.
Molecular formulas of polymers are indexed as monomer formula(s) within parentheses, followed by an x: (C8 H8)x ; (C8 H8 . C4 H6)x etc.
Structure searching for copolymers in SciFinder involves executing a search for one monomer as an exact structure, then refining the results by adding another monomer. It's better to start with the least common monomer. Polymers with undefined structures obviously can't be searched by structure, but must be found with name and class terms instead. STN documentation can be found here.
Searching by property value(s) is more robust in Reaxys, and you can also do it in CRC's Combined Chemical Dictionary and Properties of Organic Compounds.
To find later documents that cite a specific work or group of works (such as by author), pull up a group of records, select one or more (or just use the entire results set), and click "Get Citing" in the task bar. This will pull up a set of documents (post-1996) that cited the selected original(s).
Web of Science (Science Citation Index) allows more extensive analysis of citations, and calculates an h-index, which SciFinder can't do. It's also the only source to find pre-1996 citing papers. [More information on citation searching]
Note: If you start from a chemical substance record, click Get References, and then select from the Roles menu (Adverse effect, Analytical study, etc.), you will retrieve results only from the 1967+ file segment. Chemical Roles for Registry Numbers have NOT been retroactively applied to pre-1967 CA records, with the exception of the Preparation role, which has been added back to 1907. The interface and the help pages do not make these important distinctions clear.
CAS added some bibliographic records for pre-1907 literature from other sources. Beilstein and Gmelin are excellent alternatives to search for older literature on specific substances. See the Historical Literature pathfinder for more information on pre-1907 searching.
The "CAN" number displayed in the CAPLUS file for records prior to 1967 is a computer-generated accession number which does NOT correspond to the printed CA. It looks like this: 1966:10072 or 64:10072. If you have only an old CA abstract number, you must use the print CA to find the abstract. If you need to find a genuine CA number for an older reference, you can look it up in the print, or ask the librarian for assistance.
The SciFinder interface is not intended for comprehensive patentability (prior art) searching, which should be done by experienced patent searchers using specialized databases. The academic usage terms prohibit using SciFinder for any profit-making purpose, regardless of one's academic status or affiliation.
The MARPAT file contains more than 940,000 searchable Markush structures from patents covered by CAS from 1961 to the present (records from 1961-87 are derived from French INPI data), and is updated daily. Markush structures include organic and organometallic molecules reported in patents from countries covered by Chemical Abstracts, except Korea. Not included are alloys, metal oxides, inorganic salts, intermetallics, and polymers.
Drawing a Markush structure uses the same applet, but some options are not available. Unlike a Registry search, results from a Markush search in SciFinder are CAPLUS bibliographic records for patents, rather than actual structure hits, which you never actually see. (You don't see the source MARPAT records either.) Sometimes it will not be obvious why a particular CAPLUS patent record was retrieved based on the structure you entered. Registry numbers are not highlighted in the indexing. You may or may not see a matching structure graphic embedded in the abstract. You may have to refer to the full text of the patent itself to determine its relevance. When you do a Markush structure search, you are NOT searching the Registry file; to do a complete novelty search, you must search a structure using both options. While Markush structure conventions are easy for chemists to understand, the computer algorithms that match them to specific target structures are very complex.
Remember that SciFinder is not intended to serve as a tool for professional patentability searching, which must be carried out by patent experts using databases designed for that purpose.
* Official Visitors primarily include visiting scholars paid by their home institutions who have UT ID cards and appropriately authorized EIDs. Visiting scholars should continue using SciFinder remotely via their home institutions if it is available to them. Otherwise, a working email address ending in utexas.edu is required for SciFinder registration. Visitor EIDs do not have permission to use licensed resources from off campus, and may not be permitted to enter the SciFinder registration area. Contact the Chemistry Library for more information.
** Unofficial visitors to campus do not have UT IDs or EIDs, and are not eligible to use SciFinder.
Authorized individuals at UT-Austin who have registered for a personal SciFinder account may use SciFinder from any computer connected to or proxied through the campus network, including library workstations.
Alternative databases that are available to non-affiliated visitors on library workstations include: Web of Science; PubMed; Engineering Index; or Inspec. Printed Chemical Abstracts (1907-2001) is also available in the library.
Remember that the Full Text link does not mean that an electronic version of that document exists - it merely begins a search for one. In practice the link is functional only for journal articles and patent documents, and generally won't lead to other types of materials such as books, conferences, dissertations, tech reports, etc., even if they happen to exist electronically somewhere.
Furthermore, the existence of electronic full text does not guarantee that you (as a UT-Austin patron) will have access to it. In order to view the full text, the document must either be:
The mechanism for linking from a record in SciFinder to the full text of an article is complicated and far from perfect. SciFinder sends available document metadata in OpenURL format to UT-Austin's link resolver, which in turn attempts to match it with an entry in our local database. If it can't make a valid match, you get a dead-end set of options even though online full text and/or print of your article may actually be available. In these cases you can keep trying by searching the Library Catalog for the journal title in question, or ask library staff for help. Please report linking problems to the library so we can look into them -- we might be able to fix some, while others are outside our control.
Due to the complexity of the OS/Java/browser/server interactions, the Library is not able to assist much with this. Every computer is a little different. A tip: Although we don't usually recommend Internet Explorer as a default browser in Windows, if the structure drawing applet is not working in Firefox, try it in IE, then try again in Firefox. Sometimes when a new Java version is loaded, starting in IE can jump-start it in other browsers. For Macs, Safari can be better at running the structure applet than Firefox. Chrome is not supported but some report that it works fine.
It has been reported that EndNote's "Search for Full Text" feature does not always work properly with many types of imported records, including SciFinder's. The exact cause(s) of this is unknown, but it's usually a better idea to retrieve full text manually rather than rely on functions that must retransmit messy metatdata across multiple layers of link resolvers.