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Ch 242: Chemical Synthesis: SciFinder

A short guide to resources for students taking Ch 242a and Ch 242b at Caltech.

Explore References: Searching SciFinder By Text

SciFinder gives you several options for searching by text, all located under the Explore > REFERENCES menu:

  • RESEARCH TOPIC: You can enter your search terms as a regular English phrase, without Boolean operators, and SciFinder will attempt to figure out the key concepts in your phrase and look for them. The results are presented in the order of decreasing precision. For example, a search for "catalyst for nitrogen fixation" will search for the following:
    • As entered: the exact phrase "catalyst for nitrogen fixation".
    • Closely associated with one another: the concepts "catalyst" and "nitrogen fixation" in the same sentence or title.
    • Anywhere in the reference: the concepts "catalyst" and "nitrogen fixation" present anywhere in the reference (a typical Boolean AND search). For example, the article may be primarily about nitrogen fixation, but catalysts are only mentioned in the Background section, and are not a major focus of the article.
    • Either concept alone: a typical Boolean OR search.
    A good general place to start is the "closely associated with one another" reference group, if present.
  • AUTHOR NAME, COMPANY NAME: If you are interested in publications from a specific person or company, you can use these options. However, you may get a large set of results.
  • DOCUMENT IDENTIFIER: Use this if you happen to have the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) number for an article handy.
  • JOURNAL: Use this if you have partial citation information for a specific journal article.
  • PATENT: Options to search chemical patent literature indexed in SciFinder. Visit the Library's Patents & Trademarks Guide for more information about searching these fields.
  • TAGS: You can define your own labels for articles saved in your account.

Resources from SciFinder: How to Create a Reference Answer Set

Sort, Analyze, Refine, and Categorize

Sort: If your initial answer set isn't too large, the Sort option lets you sort by the following:

  • Accession Number: This is a unique number issued to a publication when it is added to the Chemical Abstracts database. It correlates with order of online publication/availability.
  • Author Name, Title: Primary author, alphabetical by last name, or alphabetical by Title.
  • Citing References: Sorts in order by times the article has been cited by later publications. A good way to identify highly cited, influential papers within the results set.
  • Publication Year: Will sort by publication date, which will be slightly different than Accession Number.

For large answer sets, you may wish to use one of the following options to narrow it down. The Sort option will always be available for any result set you obtain from these options.

Analyze: Shows the most common terms in the selectable categories - Author Name, Document Type, etc. Some available terms you may not have seen before:

  • "CA Section Title": In the Chemical Abstracts database, a set of 80 categories used to organize print entries. Can be useful when trying to disambiguate a term - for example, "plasma" as a state of matter would be categorized under Sections such as "Electric Phenomena", whereas "plasma" as a biological entity would fall under "Pharmacology" or other biologically-related Sections.
  • "Index Term": A set of preferred (controlled) vocabulary terms used to categorize references in the Chemical Abstracts database.
  • "CA Concept Heading": A set of terms used by the Chemical Abstracts database to identify the general topic of the reference.
  • "Supplementary Terms": Additional keywords or index terms, usually provided by the author.

Refine: Similar to Analyze, Refine allows you to search certain categories by entering a term of your choice. It also allows you to search within Research Topic.

Categorize: This option lets you narrow down references based on broad chemistry-related categories (not necessarily the same as those used in "CA Section Title"), as well as index terms.

Reference Detail: Interpreting a SciFinder Record

Clicking on a publication title in a result set will give you more detailed information about it. Some key things:

  • Abstract: You can read the entire abstract of the article.
  • Citation Information: Shown in a column on the right.
  • Indexing: List of CA Section Titles under which the publication is classified.
  • Concepts: List of standardized concept terms describing the content of the publication.
  • Supplementary Terms: Author-provided keywords for the publication.
  • Substances: List of substances in the reference that are indexed in SciFinder, including CAS number.

Terms that are blue (including CAS numbers) are links that, when clicked, will search SciFinder for related information (i.e publications with certain text classifications, or information on a specific substance).

Saving and Exporting Citations

Saving a reference will save it to you account on the SciFinder server.

To export citation information for use in EndNote, follow these steps:

From SciFinder:

  1. Select "Export".
  2. On the pop-up window, select "Citation export format (*.ris)" and enter a filename on the right.
  3. Click "Export".
  4. Select "Save File" and click "OK". Select where to save the file and click "Save". This will save the citation record as a file to import into RefWorks.

Once you are in EndNote:

  1. Select "File", then "Import".
  2. Select the file saved from Step 4 above. Make sure that for Import Options, "Reference Manager (RIS)" is selected.
  3. Click "Import".
  4. References should be imported into EndNote.

Please note that EndNote is a tool, and the data it gets is only as good as what the database provides. Always double-check citaiton information in EndNote after importing!