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Searching by Properties

Literature Searching

Quality of Data


Searching the Literature


SciFinder indexes millions of documents from the late 19th century up to last week that may contain desired physical property information. It's the best index to start this kind of search, but it helps if you first understand the database's scope, structure, and limitations, and learn some handy tips to get better results.

1. Start with the Explore References: Research Topic query using a property name with the substance's Registry Number or common name.

search for heat of vaporization of a registry number

2. Name vs. Registry Number

search for solubility of aluminum oxide

When you use a chemical name instead of a RN, SciFinder tries to resolve the RN automatically if it can. This can be less precise than using a predetermined RN, but also helpful.

3. Starting from the Explore Substances Search

You can also start a search from the "Explore Substances" option. This search does essentially the same thing as above but with one extra step. First you search for a substance by Registry Number, molecular formula, name, or structure.

search for aluminum oxide

hit record

The Registry database in SciFinder also contains some experimental and predicted properties for substances (red arrow). Since we're talking about literature searching here, we'll pass over that option.

substance roles menu
Click "Get References" and retrieve references from all years. (Note: Selecting "Properties" from the "roles" pop-up menu will retrieve only post-1967 references. The Properties role has not been retrospectively assigned to RNs before that date. Get all references if you think that the data you seek were possibly reported before that time.)

Finally, use the Refine tab to limit the results set using a property name.

refine by property name

When you use this method, "closely associated" proximity is not considered. This makes this method a bit less precise than the References search option shown above.

Other Tools

ThermoLit recommended resource
A free tool from NIST-TRC that allows you to search precisely for references reporting desired property and substance-level data within the NIST SOURCE Data Archive, and then generate a PDF literature report as required by a number of data-focused journals. The Archive covers reports of pure compounds and binary and ternary mixtures. (Polymers, materials with unspecified formulas, ions, and reaction properties are not included.) Note that the actual data is not provided in ThermoLit; that can often be found in the related Web Thermo Tables database.

Thermophysical Properties Research Literature Retrieval Guide
Old-fashioned but totally unique.


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