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scifinder Help and Frequently Asked Questions


UT-Austin users needing immediate assistance with SciFinder should call the Chemistry Library at 512-495-4600 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm). Outside of business hours, or to get more information, contact us via email.


Content and Searching

What is SciFinder?
How often is the database updated?
How does the Research Topic query work?
Can I enter Registry Numbers in the Research Topic query?
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?

Access

Who can use SciFinder?
Can I use SciFinder for my company?
Can I use SciFinder after I graduate?
How do I register for a search account?
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?

Getting to Full Text

Does 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 Support

What browsers are supported?
Structure editor not working (Java)
Alternative structure editors?
Security Certificate Errors
Inactivity time out
Forgotten password
Can I import records into EndNote?
Is there a way to email records to my colleagues?


Content and Searching

What is SciFinder?
SciFinder is a system that provides integrated, user-friendly access to several Chemical Abstracts Service databases plus Medline:
  • Chemical Abstracts (CAPLUS, bibliographic data, 1907-present)
  • Registry (chemical structures, biosequences, and names, with associated property and spectral data)
  • CASREACT (single and multistep organic reactions, 1840-present),
  • CHEMLIST (regulatory information on chemicals)
  • CHEMCATS (commercial availability of chemicals from major suppliers)
  • MARPAT (generic Markush chemical structures from patents)
  • MEDLINE (biomedical literature, 1946-present)
You can search more than 33 million references by topic, author, CAS Registry Numbers, patent number, and CAS abstract number. More than 56 million chemical substances may be searched by chemical name, structure, Registry Numbers, and molecular formula. You can also do substructure searches for substances and more than 42 million organic reactions.

How often is the database updated?
The Chemical Abstracts databases (CAPLUS and Registry) are updated daily. It takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for a newly published article or patent to appear in CA. In journals that publish new articles online before they appear in print, CA usually indexes the online version first, then updates the bibliographic information when the print appears. CASREACT is updated weekly.

How does the Research Topic query work?
The Explore by Research Topic option presents a single text box that looks like Google's, but SciFinder's search algorithms function VERY differently from those of standard web search-engines. SciFinder uses a proprietary, highly complex (and somewhat mysterious) natural language query algorithm that breaks your query into a set of discrete concepts, searches them against the database indexes, and then presents you with a selection of result options. Here is a very brief list of important searching points unique to SciFinder -- these apply to no other database tools or web search engines.

  • Compose a natural-language query phrase with at least two distinct concepts, linked with connecting words. Examples:
    • single walled carbon nanotubes in thin film transistors
    • synthesis of fluorescein derivatives
    • determination of arsenic in wood pulp
  • SciFinder uses connectors (such as "of" "in" "for" "as" "with" etc.) to parse query into component concepts; they are not analyzed for their linguistic meaning. For example, 'determination of arsenic' is processed the same way as 'determination in arsenic' even though the two phrases mean different things to a chemist. You can get around this somewhat by selecting the more restrictive "as entered" option in the results table.
  • Avoid typing long, complex queries: as with all databases, simpler is usually better. Try to keep your query straightforward, with no more than 3 or 4 distinct concepts. (The system limit is 7.) A query that is too complex will usually result in few if any hits. If your topic is inherently complex, start with a simple search of the most important concept or two, then narrow down the results using the Analyze or Refine options.
  • SciFinder ignores the Boolean operators AND and OR, treating them as ordinary words instead. However, inserting NOT will usually work to eliminate concepts you don't want.
  • Slight differences in the way your phrase a query can retrieve markedly different results, so you may want to try your search several different ways if your first results aren't satisfactory. Try to avoid including generic or meaningless words that may limit your results unnecessarily. Think about what keywords are likely to be used in titles and abstracts relevant to your topic, and stick with those.
  • If you want to search an exact phrase, type the phrase without quotation marks (which are ignored), and select the first option in the results list: "X references were found containing 'A B C' as entered." You will only see this option if there was an exact match of your search string in the database. Note that none of the algorithmic processes described below will have been performed on this exact "as entered" phrase.
  • SciFinder auto-truncates your words in most cases, so common wildcard symbols like * or # will be ignored. Sometimes autotruncation includes totally irrelevant terms in your results. Redoing your search with a NOT qualifier sometimes gets rid of a specific unwanted term. See below for more explanation.
  • SciFinder is case-insensitive. AIDS = aids.
  • Using general keywords does not automatically retrieve more specific concepts. Example: 'metals' will not also retrieve 'gold' or 'platinum', etc. You can enter them them as synonyms though.
  • You can include synonyms in parentheses, separated by commas, following the word in question. Example: 'lead poisoning in humans (men, women)'. You don't need to do this for simple plurals -- SciFinder truncates most plurals automatically and includes both in your results. SciFinder also uses an internal thesaurus of synonyms, so you'll occasionally see words you didn't search included in your results.
  • SciFinder recognizes and translates some abbreviations and British vs. American spellings. Examples: 'NMR' = 'nuclear magnetic resonance'; 'detn' = 'determination'; 'color' = 'colour' etc. Abbreviations that are ambiguous or non-standard will not be translated in this way. CAS has standard abbreviations for a large number of frequently used words, and these are always translated for you.
  • Chemical names included in topic queries are automatically searched in the synonym index of the Registry file, and if an exact match is found that compound's Registry number is added to your query. However, the more complex the chemical name, the less likely an exact match will be found, due to vagaries of nomenclature and punctuation. It's usually better to start a chemical name search under the Explore Substances tab. (But see below.)

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.

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Can I use Registry Numbers in the Research Topic query?
Yes. Generally, the results you'll get are the same as if you entered the correct substance name/synonym because the search algorithm maps names to corresponding RNs. Using the RN is more straightforward if you already have it. However, there are exceptions to this. Older documents (pre-1967) were not as thoroughly indexed for tangential substance information, and if an RN was not originally assigned to an article's indexing, you won't find that article by entering that RN; but you would find it if the substance name appeared in the original abstract (i.e., as a keyword). This particularly affects substances such as reagents, by-products, intermediaries, and other compounds that may have been secondary to the article's main topic. When in doubt, try the search both ways.

Does SciFinder search the full text of articles and patents?
No. A Research Topic query searches only the bibliographic metadata present in the CAPLUS and MEDLINE records: the document title, abstract, indexing terms, Registry Numbers, etc. There is no full text within these databases. If you need to search across full text, try Google Scholar.

Is there a way to turn off the auto-truncation feature?
No, but there are some workarounds. Searches for particular words are "polluted" by unrelated and unwanted words that share the same stem. For example, a search for "reactivation" will also retrieve thousands of records containing "reaction", "reactivity", "reacts", and so forth. One way around this problem is to do your initial search on the single problem word, then select the "as entered" option from the results table. Then refine/analyze that set with additional words or searches. A more sophisticated method is to do the "as entered" search, save the results with the Save Set feature, and then combine it with further searches also saved as sets.

How are records in a results set sorted?
The default sort for references is by the database accession number, which is essentially the same as reverse-date: newest documents are on top, the oldest at the bottom. (Records from Medline are always below records from CAPLUS, also sorted in reverse chronological order.) You can re-sort a results set by author, document title, citing references, or reverse publication year.

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.

What does the Analyze feature do?
Analyze is a tool that allows you to evaluate and review an answer set without having to browse all the entries one by one. You can create histograms of your set based on author name, organization/company (only the first author's organization is indexed), language, document type, journal title, date, CAS Registry Number, and so on. This can help you quickly identify individuals or organizations doing work or getting patents on your topic, chemical substances most frequently mentioned, key publications, trends over time etc. You can click on a histogram bar and view just those records.

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.

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How can I limit a substance answer set that's too large?
The Refine and Analyze tools allow you to narrow your substance results by a number of criteria, including additional structure component, metal- or isotope-content, property data or commercial supplier information, etc.

How do I search for chemical names?
Carefully. Under Explore Substances, select the "Substance Identifier" option. Chemical nomenclature in general is very complex, and follows different sets of rules. CAS uses its own nomenclature rules to assign systematic names to chemical substances, and their rules have changed substantially over the years. The Registry database indexes the current official CA Index Name for all substances, along with any former CA Index Names and various synonyms and trade names that have been used in the literature. However, Registry is not a comprehensive source of chemical names and trade names.

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 acid
type 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-carboxylic
and 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!

How do I transfer a Registry structure into the drawing module to modify it?
There are two ways to do this. If you already know the Registry Number (or SMILES or InChI), just click the add to editor icon icon in the structure drawing window, and enter the RN or other identifier directly. In addition, you can do a search for a compound and view the record with the structure in question. Click on the structure diagram and choose "Explore by chemical substance" (or reaction). The structure will be imported into the drawing module and can be modified for further searching. This is a useful shortcut to drawing a complex structure.

How do I search for the preparation of a compound?
SciFinder offers a few ways to do this.
  • On the Explore Substances page:
    1. Do a search by Registry Number, structure, molecular formula, or chemical name. If you wish, you can pre-limit the search to preparation by selecting that option from the Studies menu.
    2. Mark the compound(s) in the results table that you wish to explore further. Click "Get References".
    3. On the limiting menu, select the Preparation role. (Registry numbers in document records where a preparation method is described are assigned this role. The Preparation role has been retroactively added to Registry numbers back to 1907.)
  • You can use Explore Reactions and draw your target compound as a product, along with any starting materials or reactants you wish to include. One nice feature of this method is that the experimental procedures section from selected journals is displayed directly in SciFinder, allowing you to determine applicability of a reaction more quickly.
  • On the Explore by Research Topic page, enter a phrase query with a Registry Number (preferred) or common name (less accurate):
    • preparation of 12345-67-8
    • synthesis of chloroaldehyde

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How do I search by molecular formula?
Molecular formulas, while imprecise, can give you searching options not possible any other way. But you do have to understand how CAS derives and indexes the MF in Registry records.
  • Single component substances: Under Explore Substances/Molecular Formula tab, enter the formula in any element order but add up all the atoms (ex. Benzoic acid is C7 H6 O2 not C6H5COOH). SciFinder will parse and order the formula and ask you for clarification if it's ambiguous. Searches are not case-sensitive unless the symbols are ambiguous. Spaces between the elements are optional.
  • Multicomponent substances (salts, mixtures, hydrates, etc.): Separate the individual components with a dot. (Ex. Sodium benzoate is indexed as C7H6O2 . Na. See the explanation under salts below).
  • Polymers: Component formulas are in parentheses, separated by dots, with an x following. Ex.: (C8 H8 . C4 H6)x
  • Alloys: Elements are listed in alphabetical order, separated by dots. Ex.: Cr . Fe . Mo . Ni

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.

How do I search for salts?
Salts are often best searched by molecular formula, and CAS treats most of them as multicomponent substances composed of a free acid and a base. Simple salts like NaCl (= ClNa) are straightforward. The formulas of more complex inorganic, organometallic and organic salts are indexed as "dot-disconnect" compounds under the following scheme:
    Fc . NFa
where Fc is the molecular formula of the cation (or acid), Fa is the anion (or base) formula, and N is the number of anions - which can be a whole number or a fraction. Note that the acid's hydrogen(s) are retained in its component formula. Examples:
  • Sodium benzoate, i.e. the sodium salt of Benzoic acid [C7 H5 Na O2] is searched as: C7 H6 O2 . Na
  • Calcium phosphate, i.e. the calcium salt of Phosphoric acid [Ca3(PO4)2] is searched as: Ca . 2/3 H3 O4 P
  • Organometallic salts: ex. C16 H36 N . 1/4 C8 Mo N8

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.

How do I search for organometallic compounds?
Doing structure searches for organometallic and coordination compounds in SciFinder is a challenge. If you're looking for an exact structure, it's sometimes easier to use the molecular formula option instead. (An exact name search is less likely to be successful.) If you're drawing the structure, always select "Show precision analysis" before running the search. Then select the "conventional structure" subset of the results. (Note: precision analysis is not available if there is stereochemistry, or for similarity searches.) There's also a limiter for coordination compounds that you can check if you wish. Another tip: Turn off valency analysis in the drawing applet's preference pane so that the system doesn't keep bothering you about nonstandard valencies as you draw. It will still ask you to confirm the nonstandard valency before doing the search, and just click OK to proceed as drawn.

For a more extensive overview of searching for inorganic substances, go here.

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How do I search for polymers?
CAS registers most polymers as multicomponent substances composed of one or more monomers. You can search by name, monomer structure or formula and limit retrieval to polymers in the Class(es) menu. Search for general classes of polymers as a research topic.

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.

How do I search for labelled compounds?
By structure: Search for all labelled analogs of a given (sub)structure by drawing and searching the structure, then using Refine to limit to isotope-containing substances. It's not possible in SciFinder to search for a specific label at a specific position, however.
By molecular formula: Deuterated or tritiated analogs can be searched as D or T within the formula; these isotopes are double-posted with H in the MF field. Ex.: C5 H D6 N = C5 H7 N.

What is Precision Analysis?
When you draw a substructure, you should get in the habit of checking the "Show Precision Analysis" box before running the search. (It's not the default, nor is it possible to analyze by precision after running the search, although this is an often-requested improvement.) When you check the box and click Search, SciFinder will show you a pop-up box with a selection of "candidates" to choose from, to make your results more precise. Precision analysis is not available if there is stereochemistry, or for similarity searches. But it's important when searching for metal-containing organic compounds.
  • "Conventional Substructure" means those structures that contain the substructure exactly as drawn, i.e., the closest matches to what you've drawn. In most searches this is what you should select, especially if retrieval is large.
  • Closely and loosely associated structures and tautomers often will outnumber the "conventional" kind, and nobody but CAS is quite sure what the difference between "closely" and "loosely" is.
  • Other results approximately related to the substructure as drawn.

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How can I remove multicomponent substances from my answer set?
After drawing the structure, select "Single component" from the Characteristics menu. This will in many cases substantially reduce your number of hits. This option has to be selected before the structure search is run; it's not a Refine option.

How do I find property values for a compound?
There are two approaches in SciFinder to search for documents that might contain specific kinds of property data for a compound. The most straightforward way is to use the compound's Registry Number in a research topic query, e.g. "vapor pressure of 104-76-7", and view the results where the concepts are "closely associated with one another." The other way, which is preferable if you don't already know the RN, is to use Explore Substances to find the compound record, click Get (all) References, and then use the Refine/Topic feature to enter the name of the desired property to narrow the results further. (Don't select the Properties role when getting references unless you're fairly sure the data was reported after 1967. The substance roles have not been applied retroactively to the pre-1967 segment of the CAPLUS file.) See our Properties Literature Searching page for more details.

Can I search for chemical substances by property value(s)?
Yes, for some properties but not others. Many substance records in the Registry file contain calculated or experimental property data. Select "Property" in the Explore Substances tab and then choose a property from the menu and enter a specific value or range of values (closed or open-ended). You can also refine a substance set by experimental property values. See the help pages for more information. Experimental property data in Registry come mostly from the literature, but not all are directly searchable. Predicted properties are generated by algorithms from ACD Labs, and these are related primarily to pharmaceutical discovery.

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.

How do I find spectra for a compound?
IR, NMR (predicted from ACD Labs and experimental from BioRad-Sadtler), and some MS spectra for many compounds are included in a substance's Registry record. Searching for documents containing spectral data works basically the same as a property value search (above). See our Spectral Literature Searching for more details.

How do I locate commercial chemical suppliers?
Search for a compound by name, structure, formula, Registry number, etc. View the record for that compound. Click on the "Get Commercial Sources" button chemcats to view a list of commercial suppliers and addresses.

Can I find current regulatory information on substances?
Yes. Do a search for the substance and locate its Registry record. Then click on the "Get Regulatory Info" link or the regulatory button to pull up that compound's CHEMLIST record.

Why do some substances show zero references?
Although most Registry compound records come from CAS' indexing of the literature, some compounds are registered from other sources and are not necessarily represented by any indexed literature. Third-party chemical libraries, catalogs, and databases from various external agencies, as well as hypothetical ring parents are also included.

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How do I search for chemical reactions?
Select "Explore Reactions" from the task menu. Draw a reaction scheme including one or more reactants/reagents, a reaction arrow, and a product (sub)structure. You can focus your substructure search more narrowly and avoid error messages or too many hits by using the locking tools, mapping atoms, and defining reaction sites (bonds broken or formed) in the drawing module. You can also apply pre-limits such as solvent, number of steps, classification, year, etc. Click "Get Reactions" to run the search in the CASREACT database. Results are sorted by relevance. For more information see the Training guides.

Where does SciFinder's reaction information come from?
The CASREACT file primarily contains reaction information derived from journals indexed in the Organic sections (which include organometallics) of Chemical Abstracts since 1985 and patents since 1991. This content is augmented by a selection of smaller third-party reaction files stretching back to 1840: VINITI/ZIC; INPI; Wiley reference works, etc. CASREACT is not as broad as Reaxys in its reaction coverage before 1985. For best coverage you should search both sources.

Are the cited references in the CA record searchable?
Yes. Cited references (representing the works appearing in the article's bibliography) are included in CA bibliographic records back to 1996. Most are hyperlinked to the corresponding record in CA -- just click on the citation to go to that record.

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]

How do I search for older (pre-1967) literature?
The 1907-1966 segment of the CAPLUS file is searchable by Research Topic, Author, and most other fields. All indexing data for chemical substances from the 1st through 7th Collective Indexes have been added and algorithmically matched with Registry Numbers.

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.

Can I search CA abstract numbers in SciFinder?
Abstract records from 1967 to present can be searched by abstract number (e.g. 101:59753) in the Document Identifier tab. Abstract numbers from 1907-1966 are not searchable or displayable in SciFinder. These are the numbers that look like: 53:2185a, indicating that the original abstract appeared in volume 53 of printed Chemical Abstracts, in column number 2185, position "a" (top of the column). These positional numbers did not necessarily correspond to a specific abstract and thus one-to-one matches aren't possible.

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.

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Does Chemical Abstracts index translation journals?
Up to about 1995 CAS indexed only the original journals (mostly Russian), and ignored their English translation counterparts. Starting in 1995 CAS began to switch to selected translations when they were apparently simultaneous and complete. [More information on translation journals]

What patents does CAS cover?
Worldwide chemical patents and applications are thoroughly indexed and cross-referenced in SciFinder. CAS policy is to index the first published patent document (usually a non-U.S. application) in a family, and subsequent granted patents and other applications are listed in the Patent Family table in the full record:
sample patent family

For coverage details, see the CAS Patent Coverage page. For full text retrieval, see Patent Full Text below.

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.

How can I remove patents from my results?
Click the Refine tab from a results screen, then choose Document Type, and select from the menu only those types of documents you wish to see.

What are Markush structures?
Markush structures are generic chemical structures drawn according to patent claims conventions and found in chemical patents worldwide. They are distinct from the precise structures found in the Registry database, and are searched separately in the MARPAT file using the Markush structure option under the Explore Substances tab. An example from Wikipedia:

sample Markush structure

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.

How can I remove the Medline records from my results?
Medline records are sorted separately in results sets, and come after the hits from CAPLUS. After you get a list of references, click the Refine tab, then select the Database button and select CAPLUS. Medline records are often duplicates of CAPLUS records in the same set. SciFinder allows you to remove duplicates from your results set. You can also set your Preferences to automatically remove Medline duplicates.

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Can I set up an Alert to send me new records?
Yes, you can set up a Keep Me Posted alert within your account. See a slideshow for instructions on how to do this.

Can I save answer sets from session to session?
Yes. You can save a results set (references, substances, or reactions) on the CAS server, or export them to a local disk, then combine a future results set with that saved set if you wish. By employing various options of Combine, Intersect, or Remove, you can manipulate and customize the information contained in these combined answer sets.

What is the SciPlanner?
The SciPlanner is a feature that provides a flexible whiteboard-like workspace where you can save and organize information from SciFinder substance, reaction, and bibliographic records. For example, you can copy and arrange multiple reaction schemes, with links to their full details, and the planner will let you combine them in creative ways and add associated references. You can print-to-PDF in order to share a planner layout with others.

Should I use SciFinder or Reaxys?
Use both. SciFinder and Reaxys (incorporating Beilstein and Gmelin) are complementary resources, and although there is some overlap the two are quite different in their respective literature coverage, and the ways they register compounds and index reactions. It's advisable to consult both databases for the most complete coverage of compounds, reactions, and properties.

Should I use SciFinder or Web of Science?
SciFinder and Web of Science are complementary but not directly comparable. They differ significantly in scope, coverage, dates of coverage, and indexing methodology. CAS databases are superior for coverage of the chemical literature comprehensively in all its forms, and for indexing of chemical substances, structures, synonyms, properties, and reactions. Web of Science was created primarily as a tool to search for cited references in selected source journals across all the sciences. While WOS covers a large number of important chemistry journals, it offers only keyword and author searching and abstracts, without any enhanced chemical indexing or structures, and does not cover patents. If you really need to search the entire chemical literature using features a chemist needs, use SciFinder. If you need to search and analyze cited references, use Web of Science.

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Access

Who can use SciFinder?
Yes
No
  • Currently enrolled students, including extension and distance-learning students with necessary EID permissions
  • Currently appointed faculty and staff
  • Retired and emeritus faculty
  • Currently appointed postdocs
  • Official visiting scholars*
  • Alumni and former students
  • Students not enrolled for current semester
  • Former faculty/staff/postdocs
  • Unofficial visitors**
  • Library Courtesy Borrowers
  • TexShare cardholders
* 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.

Use of SciFinder must be for educational and academic research purposes only. Commercial use - including patentability searching - on behalf of any profit-making entity, regardless of one's personal status at UT, is not permitted. Users must agree to these terms when connecting to the resource. CAS actively detects and reports suspect activity, and violation of the terms of use may result in loss of access.

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I work for a local company and I'm also a student at UT. Can I use SciFinder for my company?
No. See the terms of use section in the above entry.

I'm a UT alumnus/a. Can I use SciFinder after I graduate?
No. After your EID is updated to reflect your former-student status, you no longer have access to any licensed library content, including SciFinder. This update usually occurs about one semester (4-6 months) after you leave UT.

How do I register for a search account?
Click on the Register Now button on our SciFinder page. Read the instructions carefully.

I don't use my utexas.edu email account. Can I still register?
You don't have to actually use your email account ending in utexas.edu, but you have to have one and it has to be functional. You can have it set to forward incoming mail to your active email account, however. You must be able to receive the confirmation email CAS will send to this address in order to complete the registration process.

I'm coming to UT from another institution. Can I use my old login here or do I have to re-register?
If you are relocating permanently, you need to re-register for a new login here at UT. Unfortunately, any alerts, saved searches or other account-specific features must be recreated in your new account, and can't be brought over from your old one. If you are a temporary visitor, just keep on using your regular login remotely via your home institution's server. (Your login won't work from UT's IP range.)

Can I share an account with someone else?
No. This is a violation of the user agreement and compromises the security of your private information. CAS will disable user accounts it suspects are shared or stolen.

When is the system available?
SciFinder is available 24 hours a day, EXCEPT Saturday evenings, when database maintenance is done. See the schedule of availability.

Can I use SciFinder from off campus?
Yes. You can connect via the UT Libraries Proxy Server using the links found on these pages. If you bookmark the link in your browser be sure to include UT's proxy server prefix in the URL: http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://scifinder.cas.org/. Each time you connect from off campus you'll be asked for your UT EID and password.

Note: If you connect to the campus network using the ITS VPN then go to an external site, you will revert to your original IP address, which SciFinder will not recognize.

Can I search SciFinder in the library?
Current UT students, faculty and staff may use SciFinder on library workstations, provided you have registered for a SciFinder user account. You must enter your UT EID and password to use the workstations. Due to license restrictions, courtesy borrowers and the general public are not permitted to use SciFinder.

Can I use SciFinder on my smartphone?
Yes. There is no app to install and you don't need to be on campus. Point your smartphone's browser to scifinder.cas.org/mobile and log in with your existing SciFinder ID and password. There is a daily limit of detailed substance or reference displays, and structure drawing/searching is not available. In addition, there are no direct links to full text. More information

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Getting to Full Text

Does SciFinder link to full text articles on the Web?
The Full Text link appears with every record on the results summary and full record displays. Clicking on this link takes you to the actual article or, in some cases, to a menu of local access options for journals. When we do not have access to electronic full text, the menu includes an option to search the journal's ISSN in the library catalog. For patents, you should be taken directly to the record in the USPTO or Espacenet systems.

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:

  1. included in UT-Austin's current electronic subscriptions, or
  2. freely available (open access).
If neither of these is true, then you will not have access to it. In this case, you have several options to obtain journal articles:
  1. Search the Library Catalog for print holdings
  2. Request the article via Interlibrary Service (a service free to you)
  3. Use an online pay-per-view option to purchase the document directly from the publisher. Use of pay-per-view options should only be a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.

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.

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Does SciFinder link to e-books?
No. At present SciFinder links to journals and patents, which are usually single-source documents. An E-book, on the other hand, can come from many different third-party providers, as well as from the publisher. Instead, you should search for the title of the book or series directly in our Library Catalog to see if we have an e-book version, or the print.

Why can't I get full text of ACS meeting papers?
This confuses everyone. The CAPLUS file has included abstracts of presentations from the ACS national meetings since 1995. But because they're only abstracts, the Full Text button doesn't lead anywhere. If you've seen the abstract in SciFinder, you've seen all there is to see. If you want more information about a particular abstract, you should contact the authors. For more details and links, see our Gray Literature page.

Can I view patent documents via SciFinder?
Most recent patent documents (including applications) that are indexed in CAPLUS can be viewed via the full text link. CAS links to U.S. patents via the USPTO web site. Foreign patent documents are accessed via the Espacenet site of the European Patent Office. Be sure to examine the Patent Family information in SciFinder's full record display: this will list equivalent patents and applications from other agencies. SciFinder only links to the "parent" document as indexed in CAPLUS. To retrieve others in the family, copy the number and search it directly in the USPTO or Espacenet sites. See our patents page for links and more resources.

How can I translate journal abbreviations to full titles, or vice-versa?
Most journal titles now appear in full form in SciFinder. For those that don't, you can translate them to full titles - or find official abbreviations for use in your references - in CASSI, the Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index, which lists all publications indexed by CAS since 1907. The printed reference tool is located at the Circulation Desk in the Chemistry Library.

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Technical Support

What browsers are supported?
Firefox, IE 7+, Safari, and Chrome are generally supported. See System Recommendations and Requirements for details. Keep your browser up to date; older versions may have functionality problems.

The Java structure editor isn't working!
The launch of the non-Java applet has largely mooted this problem, but if you must use the Java version for now, read on. The dynamic interactions between web browsers and Oracle's Java have long been causing problems with the SciFinder structure drawing applet. (The Java problem affects only the structure editor; other search options work fine.) Due to the complexity of the OS/Java/browser/server interactions, troubleshooting can be difficult. Every computer is a little different. The bug has mostly affected Mac users, but we have heard reports of Windows users also encountering issues.

Some workaround steps you can try on a Mac running OS 10.8:

  1. Update your OS. Anything before 10.7 probably will not work well.
  2. Make sure your machine has the latest Java version installed. Use Java Tester to verify. New versions automatically disable all applets that ran on previous versions - a security tactic.
  3. Make sure you're running the latest browser version - the auto-update feature is recommended. (Mac 32-bit browsers - e.g. Chrome, or Firefox in OS 10.7 - do NOT work with Java 7!)
  4. Try the Safari browser. (Firefox often will not run the applet at all after a Java upgrade.) If the applet won't open in Safari, log out of SciFinder, and try to jump start Java by opening and approving the MarvinSketch applet in Reaxys. If that works, then try SciFinder once more.
  5. Once Safari is running the applet, Firefox may now load the applet. Give it a try.
  6. If neither works, consider installing the Opera 64-bit browser.
  7. Use the Java console to whitelist the source URLs of all acceptable applets you wish to run. (https://scifinder.cas.org) This has to be done with each new release.

A general 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 it in IE can jump-start it in other browsers. For Macs, Safari can be better at running the structure applet than Firefox and can jump-start it in the same way IE does. See System Recommendations and Requirements and Caltech's page for updated compatibility information. Because of security risks, you should not delay installation of Java upgrades, or revert to older versions, just for SciFinder.

Are there any alternative structure editors?
No. SciFinder's internal editors (the original Java-based and a new non-Java version that has most but not all of the features of the former) are the only options for drawing a structure/reaction query inside SciFinder. You can import CXF files created in other tools, however.

What does a "security certificate" error mean?
Sometimes a browser doesn't "trust" a site you're trying to get to, and you see a pop-up box that says you are trying to go to an untrusted site, or words to that effect. Just click the Accept or Continue or Allow button (it varies by browser). These warnings are annoying but there's not much we can do about them.

Why do I keep getting timed out?
SciFinder logs you out after 20 minutes of inactivity. However, the system will autosave your current answer set for you if you get timed out.

What if I forget my password?
Click the "forgot password" link. When you register the first time, you have to answer a secret question. Provide that answer again and CAS will email your password to your registered email address. The UT Libraries do not have access to your password. You will not be allowed to create a duplicate user account.

Can I import SciFinder records into EndNote?
Yes. Select records from your results and click the Export link, and select the "Citation Export Format" for the output file (*.ris). Then open your EndNote library and import the file. The SciFinder (CAS) filter is not required for this format. See also our EndNote Help page for software information.

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.

Is there a way to email records to my colleagues?
Not directly - SciFinder does not have an email function. First you must export selected records to a file on your computer, then email the file as an attachment. RTF is a good format to save in. Or you can just copy and paste directly into the body of an email.

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