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Houben-Weyl 4th ed.

Other Review Sources

Science of Synthesis

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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 reviews on organic synthetic methods. Reviews contain full experimental procedures and background information. 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. It is available both in print and in electronic formats.


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


You can search by exact or sub-structure, reaction, and keywords. You can also browse the available volumes via detailed tables of contents.

Structure Drawing

The user has a choice of three drawing tools: a built-in Java applet, ISIS Draw, or ChemDraw. (The last two require separate software on your computer.) You can also upload Molfiles from a local disk. To use the Java applet your browser must have Java enabled.

Relation to SciFinder and Reaxys

Science of Synthesis is a highly organized, self-contained review work, like a treatise or encyclopedia, written by recognized experts. By contrast, SciFinder is an open-ended bibliographic index to the entire chemical literature, broadly defined, with modules dedicated to searching for chemical substances and reactions. Reaxys is a database containing compounds and reactions derived from a selected subset of the journal and patent literature. Neither SciFinder nor Reaxys contains authored, textual descriptions of synthetic procedures, though they provide plentiful references to the primary literature on these topics.

Science of Synthesis complements these tools and should be used in conjunction with them. Unlike SciFinder or Reaxys, it is browsable by a hierarchical table of contents as well as searchable by structure and keyword. A chemist looking for the present knowledge of a type of synthetic method or class of compounds might start in SoS and follow up with searches for structures/reactions and/or keywords in SciFinder, and for structures/reactions in Reaxys. Science of Synthesis chapters provide numerous references to the journal literature, but these are selective, not comprehensive.

Houben-Weyl, 4th Edition

The PDF full text of the 4th Edition of Houben-Weyl (1952-2003) is also available through the online Science of Synthesis. The 4th edition is not searchable in the same way as the new edition is, but you can browse the tables of contents. Chapters of the 5th edition also contain links to related information found in the 4th edition.

Science of Synthesis in print

The published volumes are available in the Chemistry Library, along with the the complete 4th edition of Houben-Weyl. The 4th Edition was in German until 1990. They are shelved in Reference behind the Handbook Table. The volumes are non-circulating. [Catalog Record]