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Other Review Sources

Science of Synthesis (Houben-Weyl)

As of 2015, UT-Austin no longer subscribes to Science of Synthesis online or in print. The print archive through 2014 remains available for use in the Chemistry Library.

Science of Synthesis is the 5th edition of the Houben-Weyl Methods in Organic Chemistry series. It is a highly organized and authoritative collection of authored reviews on organic synthetic methods. Chapters contain experimental procedures, background information, and extensive bibliographies. Its purpose is to provide a direct path through the mass of primary literature on a wide range of organic reactions. The base set (48 volumes, 2000-2010) contains information on over 265,000 reactions and 29,000 experimental procedures. SoS chapters provide numerous references to the primary journal literature, but these are selective, not comprehensive.


Each volume covers a specific class of compound. Volumes are organized into Categories, which are in turn broken down into narrower specialty volumes. After 2010 SOS was continued by quarterly Knowledge Updates and occasional Reference Library topical overviews.

Houben-Weyl, 4th Edition

The previous edition was titled Methoden der organischen Chemie and was published from 1952 to 2003, with most volumes being part of the extensive supplementary (E) series that began in 1982. Until around 1990 this edition was in German. With 160 volumes, the 4th edition is much larger than SOS and can still be consulted for information that has not been updated. A volume guide from 1997 is here. A summary of E-Series volumes is here. A short User's Guide is also available on the shelf. Volumes E23 parts O-P are a synopsis of the HW structure and detailed tables of contents of all volumes.


There are no printed substance indexes to the SoS 5th edition or its supplements. You have to browse for compounds by class/volume, and use the hierarchical tables of contents, which are available as free PDF files.

Vol. 16 of the 4th edition base set comprises indexes by experimental procedure and substance class for the 4th edition and E-Series volumes 1-5 and 11 (i.e. through about 1986). Volume E23 is a multi-part structural formula index of reaction products by compound class, but it is quite difficult to use.

SciFinder indexed most SoS chapters as general reviews, but not at the individual substance level. Knowledge Updates were only indexed in 2010-11.


Science of Synthesis (through 2014) and the complete 4th edition of Houben-Weyl are available in the Chemistry Library. They are shelved in Reference behind the Handbook Table. The volumes are non-circulating. [Catalog Record]