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Reactions & Reagents

Properties & Identification

Nomenclature & Terms


Literature Search

Keeping Current


e-book Electronic resource
U.T. restricted UT-Austin restricted
print Print resource
recommended resource Recommended

Searching the Literature

When you need the complete picture, use the best tools to search the entire scientific literature. Here they are:

SciFinder U.T. restricted recommended resource

CAPLUS (Chemical Abstracts)
Chemical Abstracts online extends back to 1907 (and now includes selected pre-1907 references as well). It is the world's most comprehensive index to the literature of the chemical sciences. Over 9,000 journals are currently scanned, in addition to millions of worldwide patents, books, reviews, conferences, technical reports, and dissertations in over 50 languages.

This database of tens of millions of compound records (the majority organic) is the source of CAS Registry Numbers. It contains names, synonyms, trade names, molecular formulas, and structures of substances registered by CAS - which are then linked to bibliographic data in the CAPLUS file. The file may be searched by name, synonym, molecular formula, or by drawing a structure.

Any completely described substance - product, reactant, or intermediate - that appears in a document indexed by CAS receives a registry number and is entered in the database. If a desired substance is not in the database, as determined by several searches, including exact structure, you can be reasonably certain that compound has not been fully described or mentioned in the literature since 1957. (Registry is not fully retrospective.) A substructure search to find similar compounds which might serve as models or starting points is the next step.

CASREACT contains information on millions of single- and multistep organic reactions, drawn primarily from Chemical Abstracts' organic sections since 1985. Information includes reactants, solvents, and catalysts. The file is searchable by structure of reactants, functional group codes, registry numbers, yields, bibliographic data, substance and subject indexing terms, and CA abstract numbers. It then links you to the source article record.

Reaxys U.T. restricted recommended resource

Reaxys is the most extensive source for property and synthesis information on carbon compounds. It is retrospective and contains much of the compound information found in the Beilstein Handbook up to 1959, as well as information currently gathered from selected journals and patents. It complements SciFinder with excellent pre-1960 coverage.

Web of Science U.T. restricted

This database allows you to look forward in time from a known paper using citations found in article bibliographies. For instance, if you have an important older paper, you can find later papers that cited it. This is a completely different way of approaching the literature than a subject-based index like Chemical Abstracts, and it can be a useful complement to other methods.

Library Catalog

The monograph literature on organic chemistry is vast, and it is generally not represented in familiar indexes such as SciFinder or search tools such as Reaxys. The library's catalog is the place to search for books (including UT dissertations and e-books) on topics in organic synthesis, particularly the chemistry of various compound classes or functional groups, or well-known reactions. It is NOT a place to search for specific compounds or narrow topics that would be more likely addressed at the article level. Searching by keyword is the best option for topical queries, and results can be limited by location, format, year, and other parameters.

If you prefer to browse the shelves, the Library of Congress classification for books on organic synthesis in general is QD 262. Books on reaction mechanisms are classed at QD 502.5.


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