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Chemistry Resources for Undergraduates

Library Research Guide

Getting Started with SciFinder-n

First time using SciFinder? Check below the menu to the left to set up an account.

Once you have created an account, follow Utah State University chemistry professor, Dr. Mike Christiansen, in the introductory video below. Then scroll down for tips on searching by topic, substance, or reaction (links to sections on this page).

Source: Dr. Mike Christiansen

Additional Resources for Learning SciFinder

Using SciFinder is the best way to learn it. Check out the built in help when you get stuck by clicking the help icons. These will take you to specific places in SciFinder Help.

Screenshot of SciFinder Explore page highlighting help options

Explore References

SciFinder Scholar includes information about millions of journal articles and patents. To search for them, follow these steps:

  1. Select Explore and then click Research Topic under the References heading
  2. In the search box type one or more concepts comprising your topic. For example, venoms as analgesics
  3. Click Search


Screen capture showing SciFinder Scholar's research topic search form.
  1. From the list of Research Topic Candidates, select one or more boxes and click Get References


Screen shot from SciFinder Scholar showing search result summary


  1. The results list will contain titles and abstracts. 


Screenshot showing search results from SciFinder Scholar
6.  Click a title to view the record for that resource.  This is a description of the document, not the document itself.
Screenshot from SciFinder Scholar showing results for one source

Explore Substances

With SciFinder Scholar, you can find information about substances by name, property, molecular formula, or structure. Click the Explore button and then select from the menu of options under the Substances heading


Screenshot showing the chemical structure screen in SciFinder


If you know the name of the substance, select Substance Identifier and then type it in the box and click search.


Screen shot from SciFinder Scholar showing substance identifier search interface


The results screen will show structures matching that name. This screen allows you to access properties of the substance by clicking the registry number, reactions involving the substance (by clicking get reactions) and documents about the substance (by clicking get references).


Screen shot from SciFinder Scholar showing substance detail


Click the CAS Registry number to see values for several properties including: molecular weight, melting point, pka, boiling point, and density. The bottom of the screen provides additional tables with information about other experimental and predicted properties.


Screenshot showing the location of the CAS Registry number on the substance view screen.


Whenever you see a structure drawing in SciFinder, you can hover over the top-right corner to invoke a menu with several useful links.  


Explore Reactions

If you use the Explore Substances function to find a drawing of a structure, you can hover over the top-right corner to access a menu of options. One of those is to see reactions involving the structure. 


Image of chemical structure showing substance menu


When you choose one of the options, you will see a list of reactions. Each reaction will include structures, steps, and references. Shown below is one of over 100 reactions for synthesizing aspartame.


Screenshot of a view reactions screen in SciFinder Scholar.


You can also explore reactions in a less restricted way using a drawing canvas.  To access the canvas, click Reaction Structure from the Explore menu.


Screenshot of SciFinder Scholar's Reaction Sructure screen


Then click the image of the Structure Editor to launch it. The Structure Editor allows you to create structures from scratch or to begin with templates that you can modify. You can also import structures.


Screenshot of the Structure Editor screen in SciFinder Scholar


The icons on the bottom of the left panel allow you to specify roles for a reaction as well as the movement of atoms.


Screenshot of SciFinder Scholar's Reaction editor