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CHEM 184/284 (Chemical Literature) - Huber - Winter 2022: Lecture 11

A two-credit course in the techniques and tools for effective searching the literature of chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering and related fields.


This is the first of five pages dealing with SciFinder and SciFinder-n.

Notice the tabbed box with separate sections for the two interfaces.

Lecture 11" Introduction to Chemical Abstracts Online

Chemical Abstracts Online

  • Just as Chemical Abstracts is the single most important printed tool for chemical information, so its online counterpart is the most important electronic source.
  • Electronic CA is made available through several vendors, including DIALOG,  Orbit/Questel, and STN International, and in several formats, including STN Online, STNEasy (web menu interface), STNWeb (web command interface), SciFinder, and SciFindern. We will be primarily using SciFinder.

STN International

STN International is a cooperative service of three database providers:

  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Fachinformationzentrum Karlrsruhe (FIZ Karlsruhe) (Karlsruhe, Germany)
  • Japan Information Center for Science and Technology (JICST) (Tokyo, Japan)
  • CAS and FIZ Karlsruhe are the major partners, and do most of the development and mounting of databases.

Key Features of the Various Forms of CA Online

  • STN Online
    • Available only to account holders with STN International; pricing is by records displayed and connect time and/or subject terms used.
    • All CA databases are available, as well as numerous others from other sci-tech database producers.
    • Multiple databases may be browsed (EXPAND command) or searched simultaneously. Answer sets may be combined, and duplicate identified or removed.
    • Uses Messenger command language.
    • Full power of CA databases is those who have mastered the command language.
    • The current version of the interface, STNext, is web-based and replaces the old STN Express interface.
  • SciFindern
    • Forst released in 2017 as a total revision of the previous SciFinder web interface. It now gets regular featue updates on a monthly basis.
    • Pricing is by annual institutional subscription.Pricing is determined by a complex formula based on the number of total users, the size and location of the institution.  Unlimited simultaneous user subscriptions are now available, and virtually all academic institutions, including the University of California, now have unlimited users.​
    • SciFinder-n allows searching for:
      • References - Underlying databases are CAPlus and MEDLINE.
      • Substances - Underlying database is CA REGISTRY.
      • Reactions - None: Organic reactions only. Underlying database is CASREACT
      • Suppliers - Underlying database is CHEMCATS
      • Biosequences - Database of 500M polypeptide and polynucleotide sequences from the patent literture. In the near future, you will also be able to search the 60M+ sequences from the journal literature in CAS REGISTRY.
    • It incorporates the PatentPak and MethodsNow organic synthesis products incorporated for no aditional charge.The Chemisches Zentralblatt database, Methods Now analytical and Formulus remain as separate, extra cost products.
    • It allows simultaneous searching of text and structures, and obtains document, substance and reaction results (reminiscent of the new Reaxys interface.
    • It has a custom relevance sorting algorithm to bring the most chemically relevant answers to the top of your list.
    • It has sophisticated filtering options for powerful refinement of answer sets.
    • It has a "citation map" simultaneous display of cited and citing references for a selected paper.
    • IIt now has a retrosynthetic planning tool which uses artificial intelligence to identify synthesis routes for both previously synthesized bubtances, and for substances which have not yet been synthetically prepared.
    • It incorporates the Chemscape and Bioscape visualization stools to assist in analysis of answer sets - particularly patent answer sets.


© 2021 Charles F. Huber

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This work by Charles F. Huber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Lecture 11: SciFinder/SciFinder-n, Part 1 - Introduction and Exploring References by Author

What You Can Search in SciFinder

  • In SciFinder at present, you can search the following (see also CAS Content at a Glance ( )
    • The Chemical Abstracts document database (CAPLUS). Documents from 1907 to the present (plus selected records pre-1906) have bibliographic information, abstracts, and full subject and substance indexing (by CAS Registry Number.) Total number of records: over 49 million as of Feb. 2019. Updated daily.
    • The Chemical Abstracts substance file (REGISTRY). Substances indexed by Chemical Abstracts since 1957, plus substances from other sources (regulatory agencies, chemical catalogs, etc.) Includes Registry Numbers, chemical names, molecular formulas. Searchable structure diagrams are available for most simple compounds. Many proteins and nucleic acids have sequence information (displayable but not directly searchable in SF). Many compound records have predicted and/or experimental chemical data for selected properties. In SF, this information cannot be searched directly, but can be used to refine searches. Over 234 million records as of Feb. 2019 (over 167 million simple substances; over 67 million biosequences (polypeptides and polynucleotides)). Updated daily.
    • The Chemical Abstracts reaction file (CASREACT). Organic reactions from journal literature from 1840 to present, and patents from 1982 to present, as well as reaction sources like Organic Reactions, Organic Syntheses and Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis. Structure searchable for reactants and products, with reaction sites and atoms specifiable. Over 100,000 documents indexed, with over 112 million reactions as of Feb. 2019. Updated daily.
    • The Chemical Abstracts Markush patents file (MARPAT). Markush structure records for patents found in CAplus with the patent publication year of 1988 to the present, including coverage of Russian patents published after January 10, 2000. Over 1.2 million Markush structures, from over 600,000 patent records as of Feb. 2098. Note that while Markush structures are searchable in SciFinder, the records displayed are the CAPlus records for the patents, without some of the special display features of the MARPAT file. Updated daily.
    • MEDLINE (This is the database available free to the public as PubMed). The National Library of Medicine's database may be searched simultaneously with the CAPLUS database in SciFinder. More than 26 million records are available from 1946 to present as of Feb. 2019. It currently indexes almost 4,800 biomedical journals (with considerable overlap with CAPLUS.) The database is updated five times/week, with a complete annual reload to update subject headings.
  • In addition, SciFinder also accesses information from the following files:
    • The Chemical Abstracts chemical catalogs file (CHEMCATS). Information (including pricing) on over 98 million products covering over 32 million unique Registry Number from over 1740 suppliers' catalogs and chemical libraries as of Dec. 2015. In ScoFomder, commercial availability information is linked to substance records but may not be searched directly. Updated weekly.
    • The Chemical Abstracts chemical regulatory database (CHEMLIST). Lists regulatory information from a host of national and international agencies on over 389,000 substances as of Feb. 2018. In SciFinder, regulatory information is linked to substance records but may not be directly searched. Updated weekly.

Logging In to SciFinder

  • Now that you are registered, you may proceed to the SciFinder login page. You can find a link to it on the UCSB Library indexes and databases pages, in the Articles page of the UCSB Library Chemistry & Biochemistry subject guide, or you may connect directly at If you are using a public workstation, DO NOT check the box "Remember me"!!
  • If you have forgotten your username or password, click on that link.  You will be prompted for either your username or e-mail address.  A link to reset your password will be sent to the e-mail address you used to create your account.

SciFinder login window

  • Enter our SciFinder username OR the e-mail addres you used to create your account.then press Enter. You will go to a second window where you must enter your password. If you have forgotten your username of password, click the appropriate link to get the cance toreset your password.
  • When it successfully connects, you may see the SciFinder User Agreement for academic users. (see above) You must click the "Accept" button, agreeing to the terms, before you can proceed. SciFinder requires that the user be currently affiliated with the academic institution providing the service, and that the research be for teaching or academic purposes, not commercial research. Note that the name you used in creating your account appears in the "Welcome" section on the upper left portion of the screen.
  • Upon clicking "Accept", if it is the first time you have logged in recently, you will be taken to a news page.  If you have logged in recently or when you click "Continue" from the news page, you will be taken to the SciFinder opening screen below.

SciFinder opening screen


Breakdown of the Opening Screen of SciFinder

Session and Personalization Options

SciFinder session and personalization

  • At the upper right of the screen are links for some of the personalization options. Under Preferences you'll find:
    • Password and Account Information - change password and/or account information
    • Keep Me Posted - Select/deselect e-mail notification of KMP alerts; add or change e-mail addresses for KMP
    • My Commercial Sources - Select, if you wish, preferred suppliers to be displayed when you obtain commercial availability information on a substance.
    • Remove Duplicate Preferences - You may select to automatically remove from your answer sets MEDLINE answers which duplicate CAPLUS answers.
    • Starting Page - The default starting page is the Explore References by Research Topic screen.  You may instead select the Explore Substances by Structure Search screen, or the Explore Reactions Screen
  • The drop-down Help menu allows you to go to the SciFinder online help pages, or to online tutorials, or to the "What's New" page, or to SciFinder/CAS contact information.
  • Sign Out - It's a good idea to sign out whenever you complete your session.  SciFinder will automatically log you out after a period of inactivity (currently 60 minutes).  But if you ever search SciFinder from a public terminal (e.g, in the library), you should be sure to sign out, so it's just as well to get into the habit of always signing out when you're done.

Menu Tabs

SciFinder opening screen upper left tabs

  • Explore - This drop-down menu allows you to jump to the search query option of your choice.
  • Saved Searches - This drop-down menu lets you go to searches you've saved in your account, Keep Me Posted search alerts you've created, or the search history for your current session.
  • SciPlanner - Takes you to the  SciPlanner feature, a reaction plan creation tool.  We will discuss SciFlanner in greater detail in a later lecture.
  • Note: The "CAS Solutions" link at top currently goes to the MethodsNow analytical methods database.  UCSB does not currently have a subscription to this product.

Saved Answer Sets and Keep Me Posted Alerts

SciFinder opening screen, saved answers and Keep Me Posted

  • If you have saved any answer sets to your account, the answer sets are listed at the right hand side of the query screen in order from the most recently created to the oldest, under the title you gave the answer set when you created it.  Clicking on an individual link opens that answer set.  Clicking the "View All" link takes you to a list where you can manage your saved answer sets.
  • Similarly the "Keep Me Posted" list lists all the answer sets where one of your "Keep Me Posted" alerts had one or more hits.

Main Search Window (for Research Topic)

  • The image below is the Search Window for exploring References by Research Topic. We will see some of the other screens for exploring references later on in this lecture, and the Search Windows for Substances and Reactions in later lectures
  • Note the "question mark in a circle" icons.  These link to context-sensitive help for the particular feature..

SciFinder search window for references by research topic

  • On the left of this area, you may select which type of search you wish to perform. For References, the options are:
    • Research Topic-- searches the title, abstract, supplementary terms and index terms of reference records (eequivalent to a "keyword" search in many databases.), discussed in detail in the next lecture.
    • Author Name -- Author search, discussed in detail below.
    • Company Name -- Search for institutions where the authors performed their research, including companies, academic institutions, government labs, etc., discussed in detail below.
    • Document Identifier -- Find a known document by CAS Accession Number, Patent Number (or Patent Application Number),  PubMed ID, or Digital Object Identifier (DOI).
    • Journal -- Find known journal articles by combinations of journal name (including abbreviations and acronyms, such as J. Amer. Chem. Soc. or JACS), volume, issue, starting page, words in the article title, author name or publication year (or range of years).
    • Patent -- Find known patents by combinations of patent numbers, assignee's name or inventor's name or publication year (or range of years).
    • Tags -- SciFinder allows you to "tag" references in your answer sets with personal keywords or phrases, and you can then search by tags to retrieve those references at a later time. If you select this option, you will see a list of tags which you have assigned to one or more articles.  If you have not yet tagged any articles, the list will be empty.
  • For Substances, the options are:
    • Chemical Structure -  Draw structures, load them to SciFinder, and search by exact structure, substructure or structure similarity.
    • Markush - Draw structures and search for patents containing Markush structures which include your structure as a possibility.
    • Molecular Formula - Search for subtances by entering a molecular formula (generally in Hill order, following the CAS rules for molecular formulas.)
    • Property - Search by numerials values or ranges in one of the selected experimental or predicted property types available in SciFinder substance records.
    • Substance Identifier - Search by chemical name (systematic, common, trade names, etc.) or CAS Registry Number.
  • For Reactions
    • Reaction Structure - Draw structures of reactants and/or products, and searchby exact structure or substructure.
  • Note that the search window will change depending on which option you select.

Advanced Search (Limits)

SciFinder limits for reference searching

  • If you click the Advanced Search link (or have set it as "Always on", the lower middle part of the screen contains the options for limiting the search in the search window above.
  • The options will vary depending on the type of search selected. For a "Research Topic" search, you may limit by Pubication Year (single year or range of years), Document Type (e.g. journal article, patent, dissertation), Language (of original document), Author or Company


Explore References by Author Name

SciFinder author search screen

  • Above is an example of the author search screen for SciFinder Web. Some tips for entering author names:
    • Enter as much of the name as you know.
    • Enter spaces, hyphens, and apostrophes as you would if you were handwriting the name.
    • Replace special characters with equivalent character(s), for example, use either a or ae for ä.
    • Select "Look for alternative spellings of the last name" to account for name variations and typographical differences.
    • For complicated names, such as Von Braun or hyphenated names, or names from non-Roman alphabets which may be transliterated in different ways, try multiple searches and determine which give the best results.
  • Below is an example of a search for Peter C. Ford, entered as Last: Ford, First: Peter and Middle: C
  • Note how SciFinder gives you a list of suggested author names, including alternate uses of full names and initials, even alternate spellings in some cases.

SciFinder list of authors display for Peter C. Ford

  • Select the author names you wish to search by clicking the box next to the name.
  • In this case, I would select all the possibilities except for "Ford", and the last name, since I know Prof. Ford's middle name is Campbell. Note the buttons for selecting or deselecting all authors, and, above them, the total number of authors in the list, and the number selected.
  • Now click on "Get References". The system will automatically retrieve an answer set corresponding to the names you have selected. Answers will be displayed most recently indexed first. If your answer set has more than 10,000 references, only the first 10,000 will be displayable. However, the full answer set may be Refined to get segments of the set.

Results Display


SciFinder author search results screen

Breakdown of the Results Display in SciFinder Web

  • Starting just below the SciFinder logo: The top tabs are Explore (returns you to the desired search screen), Saved Searches (lets you look at saved answer sets, KMP alerts or your current search history), and, at far right, Save (saves a selected answer set to your account on the SciFinder server), Print (prints selected records in the chosen format) and Export (saves selected answers to a file on your computer. See more below.)
  • Note that the "breadcrumb" trail has grown and now shows the number of references found in the search.
  • At the far left of the screen are the options to Analyze, Categorize and Refine your answer sets.  See below for more details on these feature.
  • Next to the References heading are links for extracting information from the reference answer set:
    • Get Substances -- Creates a list of the substances indexed in the answer set. This answer set of substances can then be used in the same ways as any other substance answer set.  See Lectures 13 and 14 for more details.
    • Get Reactions -- Creates a list of the (organic) reactions indexed in the answer set. This answer set of reactions can then be used in the same ways as any other reactions set.  See Lecture 15 for details.
    • Get Related Citations -- Moving the cursor over this item gives you the option to get cited references or get citing references.  You may do so for an entire answer set, or for a selected set of answers.  The reference answer set created can be used in the same ways as any other reference answer set. Note that CAPLUS only began adding cited references to its document records in 1997.  So papers published earlier will not yield cited references, and will not be picked up as citing references even where they did cite a paper in question.
    • Tools -- Moving the cursor over this items accesses the following options
      • Remove Duplicates - This option removes references which appeared in both CAPLUS and MEDLINE.  The MEDLINE reference will be preferentially removed.
      • Combine Answer Sets - This tool appears if you have at least one saved answer set.  It allows to to combine the current answer set with previously saved sets in Boolean fashion.  See below for more detail.
      • Add Tag -- This option lets you add personal keyword tags to an answer set or selected answers.  See below for more information.
    • At the right hand side of the bar are Create Keep Me Posted Alert which saves the currently displayed seaerch to your account, and sets up an automatic alert at a specified interval whenever new hit results are added to the database(s).  Also...
    • Send to SciPlanner -- This option lets you send selected articles to your SciPlanner workspace.  For more information on SciPlanner, see the SciFinder, Part V: Reactions lecture.
  • Note that each of these functions may be applied either to the entire answer set or to selected documents. To select, check the box to the left of the desired document.
  • Below, to the right of the Analyze, Refine, Categorize tabs is the drop-down menu with options for sorting the answer set.  The default sort is by Accession Number (that is, the number assigned by CAS when it first indexed the document.)  Other sort options are Author Name (first author), Citing References (number of citing references), Publication Year or Title.  The arrow to the right of the drop-down menu indicates and controls whether the sort order is ascending or descending.  Click on the arrow to reverse the order. Note that SciFinder does NOT have a Relevance sort option - this feature is exclusive to SciFindern.
  • At the right of the white band is the Display Options link.  Clicking it opens a box wherein you may select the number of answers per page (15, 20, 25, 50, 75 or 100) and choose to display no abstract, partial abstract or full abstract.  The defaults are 15 per page, and partial abstracts.
  • The next band down has, at left, a dropdown menu next to the check box, the number of references in the answer set, and the number selected (if any).  The drop down meu allows you to Select All, Deselect All, Keep Selected or Delete Selected.  The latter two options allow you to create a new answer set by either keeping only your selected references, or removing them from the answer set.  If you change your mind, you may return to the original answer set using the "breadcrumb" trail above the answers window.  At the right of this band are options for moving through the answer page displays.  At the right is a navigation tool allowing you to move from one page of records to another.

Brief Record Display

  • The main area of the results display is the list of brief records in the answer set.
  • To the left of each record is a check box, which may be used to select (or deselect) individual records.
  • In the record proper, the title of the document appears first, and links to the full record display (see below for details of the full record display.)  At the end of the title is a magnifying glass icon, linking to the Quick View of the record (see below), and to the right of that is a link to the full text options ("Other Sources") for that specific record. For most recent patent documents, (not shown here), there is also a link to the PatentPak option (see below for description.)
  • Below the title is the list of authors as their names appeared in the document.  Note, in the example above, that Prof. Ford's name, however it appears, is highlighted.
  • Below the authors is the document source information.  For journals, this is the journal title, year of publication, volume, issue and page number(s).  Other types of documents have other types of information.
  • Below that is the abstract of the document.  Usually these abstracts are the ones provided in the original document, but in some cases (notably patents) the CAS indexers create more detailed abstracts.  Recent papers from ACS journals may display the images which appeared with the abstract.
  • At the right of the record are icons for retrieving the substances indexed in the document (a methane molecular model), the reactions indexed in the document (a flask) and the citing references (a document with an arrow pointing from another document.)  The substance and reacion icons only appear if there were indexed substances or reaction.  The apporximate number (if any) of citing references appears next to the citing reference icon.

Quick View Display

  • Clicking on the magnifying glass icon for a specific brief record opens the Quick View display of the record.
  • The Quick View displays the bibliographic information (e.g. author(s), title, journal , volume, issue pages, date), the full abstract, and, where available, the abstract image (see 1st screen shot below) and structure images of indexed substances (see 2nd screen shot below.) Quick views of patents may include the PatentPak link.
  • To close the Quick View, simply click the screen anywhere outside the Quick View box.

SciFinder references Quick View, example 1

SciFinder references Quick View, example 2


Full Record Display

  • Clicking on the title of a brief record displays the full document record.  What is displayed will depend on the type of ducument, its content, and whether it is partially or fully indexed.
  • Below is an example of a typical record for a journal aritcle.

SciFinder journal article record, part 1

SciFinder full journal article record, part 2

SciFinder full journal article record, part 3

SciFinder full journal article record, part 4

SciFinder full journal article record, part 5

  • At top, you have links to get the Substances, Reactions,Related Citations and Link to Other Sources (for full text) and(on the right)  to Send to SciPlanner for this particular document.
  • Below that, on the left is an icon to Return to the brief record list, and on the right, navigation arrows to jump to the next, previous, or numerically chosen full record.
  • On the right hand side, you find the source information, company/organization of the lead author, CAS accesssion number(s), and publisher and language of the article (for recent papers.)
  • In the center, you find the title, authors, full abstract, (including abstract images where available) "indexing" (i.e. section codes), "concepts" (i.e. index terms or subject headings, with subheadings), substances (identified by Registry Number, with subheadings and role indicators), supplementary terms, and at the bottom, for references since 1997, the cited reference list for the document in the order in which they are cited in the paper.
  • Note that the main Concept headings are hot-linked (in this example, Disproportionation", etc.). Clicking on one of them takes you to a search on that index term across the entire database, giving a new answer set.
  • Note that the Registry numbers are hot-linked. Clicking on one takes you to the Registry Record for that substance (We will examine this in detail in a later lecture.) Clicking on the magnifying glass icon will give you the Quick View of the substance without leaving the document record.
  • Note that most of the cited references are also hot-linked. Clicking on one of them will take you to the full CAS record for that document. Clicking on the magnifying glass icon will give you the Quick View of the cited reference without leaving the parent document record.
  • At the bottom of the record, you can view tags and comments, or add new tags and comments to the record. The difference between tags and comments are: Tags may be applied to a group of records at once, comments are added to specific records; tags are searchable keywords, while comments are only displayable. These are viewable only by you.
  • Patent records (see below) include patent family data (i.e., all the equivalent patents from different patent issuing authorities, their application and issue dates) where available, and the patent classification codes (IPC codes for all patents, and US codes for US patents. See the column on the right-hand side of the display.)  Note on the menu bar that many patent records now have a Get PDF link, which directly obtains a PDF copy of the indexed patent (note that this may not be the English language version of the patent!)


SciFinder full patent record, part 1

SciFinder full patent record, part 2

SciFinder full patent record, part 3

SciFinder full patent record, part 4



  • PatentPak is a new service provided by CAS for SciFinder and STN users.  Note that this service costs the subscribing institution extra.  The University of California does not currently subscribe to PatentPak.
  • PatentPak provides access to full-text PDFs of indexed patents from 31 patent-issuing authorities, including different versions of the same patent in a patent family.
  • Even more importantly, the PatentPak patent viewer allows you to see the chemical structures described in the patent, and jump to the ocation in the patent where the structure appears.  In an era wheremany patents run to hundreds of pages, this can greatly expedite analysis of the patent literature  from your searches.
  • For more information, see the CAS product page on PatentPak.


Remove Duplicates

  • Remember that your SciFinder reference search searches both CAPLUS and MEDLINE.  Many articles in major journals, especially biomedical ones, are indexed by both CAPLUS and MEDLINE, so the same article may show up twice in your answer list.
  • If you click on the Tools tab and select Remove Duplicates, SciFinder will use an algorithm to identify duplicate records and will remove the duplicate MEDLINE record from the answer set, keeping the CAPLUS record.
  • This will appear as a step in the "breadcrumb trail" for your search, so you can undo the duplicate removal by clicking on an earlier stage in your search.

Combine Answer Sets

  • SciFinder does not allow you to combine different types of searches with a single AND, OR or NOT command and parentheses, unlike many databases.  However, you can save answer sets and combine them, or combine them with a current search.
  • In the first image below, you see an example of combining a current search (for Prof. Ford) with a saved search (for Prof. Galen Stucky).  Note that you can only select one option for combining sets: Combine (= OR), Intersect (= AND), and two Exclude options (A NOT B and B NOT A).
  • To combine multiple sets with different Boolean operators, you would need to perform the operations sequentially.  For example, to do (A OR B) AND C, you would need to first do A Combine B to create the new set D, then do D Interset C to get your desired result.
  • To combine only previously saved answer sets, and not a currently in use set, click ont the Saved Answer Sets link in the upper right hand corner of the screen, then select the desired sets.
  • Note that you can only combine like answer sets: references with references, substances with substances and reactions with reactions.

SciFinder combine answer sets

Add Tags

  • Adding tags allows you to add personalized, searchable keywords and key phrases to SciFinder records.  These tags are associted with your personal account, and may not (at present) be viewed or used by any other users.
  • Tags can be a handy way to build up personal bibliographies of chosen documents within SciFinder.
  • Note the limits below on the number of articles that can be tagged at one time, and on the number of characters per tag, and tags per reference.

SciFinder add tags box

Link to Other Sources (i.e. retrieve full text)

  • In the current version of SciFinder, you can only go to the full text of articles one article at a time.  Click on the Link to Other Sources link on the brief record, or the Link to Other Sources tab on the full record.
  • For journal articles, UCSB users will see a new window open, which will jump from the CAS linking screen to UC-e-Links, as with our other article index databases.
  • For patents, the CAS Full Text window will go to the USPTO site or the Espace (European Patent Office) site as appropriate.

Saving Answer Sets

  • To save an answer set to your SciFinder account, use the Save link at the top of the answer list.  Saved sets will be retained on the server in your personal account for the life of the account.
  • As shown below, you must give the answer set a title, and may add a description of the materials.

SciFinder save answers

Printing Answer Sets

  • The Print option creates a PDF file of the full answer set, range of answers or selected answers.
  • You may also select the record format, assign a title, and elect to include a task history (handy for recreating a search later), tags and/orcomments.

SciFinder print answers options

Export Answer Sets

  • The Export option allows you to save answers on your local computer in a variety of formats
  • First choose which records to export (all, selected, or mumeric range), then the format.  The first three are formats suitable for import into various bibliographic software packages (make sure you know which format your software prefers for import from SciFinder!); the next three are suitable for printing: PDF, RTF and TXT.  The final format (AKX) is a format readable by SciFinder and can be imported into SciFinder from the Saved Answer Sets screen.  This can be a useful way to share your search results with other users who have access to SciFinder. Note: If you have installed the Cite-While-You-Write plug-in from EndNote online in your computer, selecting the .RIS file format for  Export may pop up a window allowing you to export directly into EndNote online!
  • You must assign a file name - the default names are rarely easy to remember, but do at least include the date of the search -- then click Export.  Your computer will then allow you to select a drive to which to save the file in its usual fashion.

SciFinder export screen

Analyze, Categorize and Refine

  • On the left of the reference list screen is the Analysis of the answer set. This collects the information from a selected field of the reference records and displays them in order of descending frequency. The default analysis is be Author Name, but you may also select from the drop-down menu: CAS Registry Number, CA Section Title (the 80 subject sections of print CA), Company/Organization, Database (CAPLUS or MEDLINE), Document Type, Index Terms (subject headings from CAPlUS or MEDLINE), CA Concept Heading (subject headings from CAPLUS only), Journal Name, Language, Publication Year, or Supplementary Terms (additional terms applied by the indexer to flesh out the Concept Headings). The screen automatically displays the top ten items in the list. Each item in the list is hot-linked. Clicking on it will refine (narrow) your current answer set to just those in that particular subset.
  • To see more of the analysis, click on the "Show More" button. This will open up a sub-window with a scrollable display of the top 500 items in the analysis list. You may then select one or more items from the list to narrow your answer set to references containing that author, index term, etc. The drop-down menu allows you to choose the order of headings, either by "Frequency" for most common to least common or "Natural Order" (alphabetical for most analyses; newest to oldest for Publication Year).
  • Note that SciFinder analyzes terms as they appear in the record. Terms that mean the same person or concept (as with Ford Peter C and Ford P C below) are NOT automatically combined, which can affect what you would expect from a frequency ordering.

SciFinder analysis by author

  • The Export link on the analysis window allows you to print out the analysis table as a PDF file, or create an Excel spreadsheet of the data.

SciFinder analysis export

  • In the case below, I Analyzed by CA Index Term, and clicked on the term "Photolysis" from the list. Now, the resulting analyzed answer set is displayed. Note the yellow bar that has appeared just below the bar listing the total number of references. It gives the number of references in the analyzed subset, and has two options: "Keep Analysis" and "Clear Analysis". Clear Analysis returns you to the unanalyzed answer set. Keep Analysis makes you analyzed set a new answer set of its own (equivalent to Refining the old answer set). Analyzed answer sets may be Analyzed further or Refined, Categorized, Get Cited, Get Citing, etc., just like a primary answer set.

SciFinder analyzed references

  • To the right of the Analyze and Refine tabs is the Categorize tab. The Categorize function does an analysis of index terms for the answer set, grouping them into science categories. Below is an example from the "Ford" answer set.
  • In the case below, I selected the Category Heading "Synthetic chemistry". SciFinder then displayed five sub-categories, from which I selected "Reactions". To the right, SciFinder then displayed all the index terms used in this answer set that fell in that category. I then selected several terms dealing with "photolysis" which now appear in the furthest right column. If I now click the "Refine" button, my anser set will be restricted to those documents which have one of those three subject headings I chose. See below.
  • Clicking on "OK" will narrow your answer set to those answers where the selected Index Terms appear.
  • Categorize has the advantage over simple analysis in that either the alphabetical or frequency listing of Analyzed terms may bury an important, but less often used, subject term deep in the list where it can be easily overlooked. Grouping the terms into broad categories helps you find the key terms. Note that Categorize also can analyze substance Registry Numbers by substance categories.
  • Note that Categorize, at present, can only operate on answer sets smaller than 15,000 answers.

SciFinder Categorize screen

  • Between the Analysis  and Categorize tabs is the Refine tab. Clicking on it displays the options for refining the answer set (i.e., narrowing) the answer set by Research TopicAuthor NameCompany NameDocument TypePublication YearLanguage or Database.(that is, the source of the record - CAPLUS or MEDLINE.) Note that the entry window will change depending on which option you select as in the examples below. 

SciFinder Refine by research topicSciFinder Refine by author nameSciFinder Refine by document typeSciFinder Refine by publication year

Explore by Company Name

SciFinder Explore by Company Name

  • This feature is useful for exploring the research efforts of a given company, agency or academic institution.The company name field also usually includes the city where the institution is located, so you can sometimes profitably use city names in a search.
  • Below is a portion of the "Company name" answer set obtained by searching "3M". A search of "Minnesota Mining" gave the exact same result. Look at he Analysis by Company/Organization at the left. Note that the search has a degree of built-in "intelligence" and will find (at least in many cases) alternate forms of a company name. However, it cannot necessarily keep track of all mergers, acquisitions, spinoffs, and name changes.

SciFinder results for company "3M"

  • In the case of non-corporate institutions, there is frequently no attempt at cross-referencing. Compare (below) the total number of answers and the Analysis by Company/Organization of an answer set generated by searching "Santa Barbara" with that for "UCSB".
  • For academic institutions, you may need to do multiple searches with different synonyms and analyze/refine and combine them to get a truly comprehensive or accurate search.
  • Note, too, that only the company/organization of the lead researcher is listed. If a faculty member is collaborating on a project, his or her institution may not be the one named. Use "company name" as a limiting tool with caution.

SciFinder results for company "UCSB"

SciFinder results for company "Santa Barbara"

Explore by Document Identifier, Journal or Patent

  • These three types of searches are used for "known item" searches.  That is, you have a CAS accession number, or DOI or patent number (all document identifiers), or the journal name, volume and pages of a journal article, or title words and inventor or assignee for a patent, and you want to find the CAS record for it.
  • Why might you want to find a record for something where you already have enough information to ltrack down the original document?  Remember that from the SciFinder record, you can often find cited or citing references, find the other members of a patent family, find the substances or reactions indexed in the document, or find index terms or other clues that would help you find more documents like your starting document.

SciFinder document identifier search

SciFinder journal search screen

SciFinder patent search screen

Explore by Tags

  • This option allows you to find references which you have tagged with a particular term or phrase.
  • Rather than giving you a search window, SciFinder displays an alphabetical list of all the taps you've created on your account.  Select a tagged set by clicking on the appropriate link.

SciFinder retrieving tagged references


"Keep Me Posted" Search Alerts

  • Keep Me Posted is the SciFinder version of research alerting. You create a search, then create a "Keep Me Posted" based on that search. Every time the database is updated, your search gets run against the new records. You are then e-mailed a notification, with a link that takes you to the answer set in SciFinder. This is highly useful if you have an ongoing area of interest and want to stay on top of the latest publications in a given area or by a given author or institution. As an academic user, you may have up to 20 different Keep Me Posted searches operating at the same time.
  • Note that you must log into SciFinder to access the answer set. The email does not contain a list of answers.
  • Keep Me Posted alerts may be based on an author search, a topic search...indeed any type of search SciFinder allows, including Refined searches, and answer sets based on "Get Citing".
  • For example, if I want to be alerted whenever anyone cites one of my publications, first I do an author search on myself.

SciFinder author results for C. F. Huber

  • Next, I select the papers by me (excluding those I know to be by other "Charles Huber"'s), move my cursor over Get Related and click "Get Citing".

SciFinder articles citing "C. F. Huber"

  • Now I click the Create Keep Me Posted Alert button to theright of the Tools button on the menu bar. In the "Create Keep Me Posted" window (below), I must enter a title for the alert, and may add a more detailed description. I can select whether to include or exclude previously found references -- this is relevant because a given document record may be updated when more indexing is completed, or new patent family data is added, and so can appear as a "new" record even though it appeared before. I must also select an expiration date -- the default is one year from the date of creation, and how often to get emailed, weekly or monthly.

SciFinder Keep Me Posted screen

  • Now my "Keep Me Posted" search appears in the list on the right-hand side of the opening screen, complete with a notice of whether there are any results for the search.

SciFinder Keep Me Posted alert list

  • Clicking on the Saved Searches tab and selecting  Keep Me Posted takes me to the screen below, where I can pull up the results of me Keep Me Posted search(es), and edit, delete and otherwise manage the searches.

SciFindre KMP alert management screen

  • For a detailed list of what may or may not be converted into a Keep Me Posted alert, see the SciFinder help screen on Keep Me Posted.

© 2020 Charles F. Huber

Creative Commons License
This work by Charles F. Huber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Screenshots of SciFinder are copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society and are used under fair use for educational purposes only.

What You Can Search in SciFindern

  • In SciFinder at present, you can search the following (see also CAS Content at a Glance ( )
    • The Chemical Abstracts document database (CAPLUS). Documents from 1907 to the present (plus selected records pre-1906) have bibliographic information, abstracts, and full subject and substance indexing (by CAS Registry Number.) Total number of records: over 56 million as of Feb. 2022. Updated daily.
    • The Chemical Abstracts substance file (REGISTRY). Substances indexed by Chemical Abstracts since 1957, plus substances from other sources (regulatory agencies, chemical catalogs, etc.) Includes Registry Numbers, chemical names, molecular formulas. Searchable structure diagrams are available for most simple compounds. Many proteins and nucleic acids have sequence information (displayable but not directly searchable in SF). Many compound records have predicted and/or experimental chemical data for selected properties. In SF, this information cannot be searched directly, but can be used to refine searches. Over 234 million records as of Feb. 2022 (over 193 million simple substances; over 69 million biosequences (polypeptides and polynucleotides)). (Note: CAS is in the process of adding a huge number of additinal biosequences.Updated daily.
    • The Chemical Abstracts reaction file (CASREACT). Organic reactions from journal literature from 1840 to present, and patents from 1982 to present, as well as reaction sources like Organic Reactions, Organic Syntheses and Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis. Structure searchable for reactants and products, with reaction sites and atoms specifiable. Over 100,000 documents indexed, with over 141 million reactions as of Feb. 2022. Updated daily. Note that raction references in SciFinder-n include, where available, detailed reaction descriptions from MethodsNow.
    • The Chemical Abstracts Markush patents file (MARPAT). Markush structure records for patents found in CAplus with the patent publication year of 1988 to the present, including coverage of Russian patents published after January 10, 2000. Over 1.3 million Markush structures, from over 650,000 patent records. Note that while Markush structures are searchable in SciFinder, the records displayed are the CAPlus records for the patents, without some of the special display features of the MARPAT file. Updated daily.
    • MEDLINE (This is the database available free to the public as PubMed). The National Library of Medicine's database may be searched simultaneously with the CAPLUS database in SciFinder. More than 26 million records are available from 1946 to present as of Feb. 2019. It currently indexes almost 4,800 biomedical journals (with considerable overlap with CAPLUS.) The database is updated five times/week, with a complete annual reload to update subject headings. Note that in SciFinder-n, when a document is indexed in both CAPLUS and MEDLINE, the records are merged, and you can see both the CA Concept Headings and the MeSH hsubject headings associated with the article.
    • The Chemical Abstracts chemical catalogs file (CHEMCATS). Information (including pricing) on over 98 million products covering over 32 million unique Registry Number from over 1740 suppliers' catalogs and chemical libraries as of Dec. 2015.  Updated weekly.
    • Biosequences - In addition to the protein and nucleic acid sequences indexed in the Registry file, CAS has acquired a fle of hudreds of millions of sequences from the patent literature, as well as the NCBI (National Centr for Biotechnology Information) protein and nucleic acid databases, for a total of OVER ONE BILLION sequences that are searchable in SciFinder-n.
    • Additionally:
      • The Chemical Abstracts chemical regulatory database (CHEMLIST). Lists regulatory information from over 150 national and international agencies on over 417,000 substances as of SFeb. 2022. In SciFinder,-n, regulatory information is linked to substance records but may not be directly searched. Updated weekly.
      • Formulus formulations indexing is added to document records where it is available. The full information from Formulus is not provided - it is a separate product - but some of the information on formulations indexed in the document is avaialbe, and you can refine answer sets to those answers containing Formulus data. S Formulation Purpose filter option will appear in References answwer sets where one or more Forumulus identified compounds appear.
      • MethodsNow Analytical data is also linked to document records where available. Again, MehodsNow Analytical is a separate prdocuct, so the full methods details are not provided, but the additional indexing can be a valuable hint as to whether the full article contains a detailed analytical method or not. Note: SciFinder-n is expected to add the analytical MethodsNow information to the database eventually.

Logging in to SciFindern

Note that this database requires registration (see above.) If you are logging in from off-campus, either use the campus VPN or the Library proxy server. If you use the links in the Library databases lists, our systems will automatically detect whether you are on-campus, already connected to the proxy or VPN, or off-campus and unconnected. If the latter, you will be automatically routed to a proxy server login screen. Once logged in, you will continue on to the SciFinder login page.

SciFinder-n log in screen

Enter your username or the e-mail address you used to register. A "Next" button will appear. Click it. On the next screen, enter your password, then click "Log in". Do NOT select :Keep me logged in" if you are using a plublic workstation.The system will remember your username/e-mail for future use unless someone else logs in on that workstation.

SciFinder Opening Screen

SciFinder-n opening screen (substances)

Note that the default opening screen is set for substance searching. If you have previously searched in this account, your recent search history will display below the search window.\

Breakdown of the Opening Screen

In the upper left is the CAS SciFinder-n logo. T

CAS SciFinder-n logo

On the left are three vertically-arranged dots. Clicking on them opens a drop-down menu:

CAS Product Selection Menu

This enables the user to switch freely among CAS products. Note that you or your institution must subscribe to the product in question to access it, and at the momnet, UCSB only subscribes to SciFinder-n.

In the upper right are three options:

SciFiner-n opening screen upper right corner detail

  • Clicking on Saved and Alerts takes you to a list of saved searches, and search alerts. From there you can mange those searches and alerts, as well as combining saved anser sets with AND, OR or NOT.
  • History takes you to your full search history on this account. From there, you can re-run any previous searches.
  • My Account opens a drop-down menu:
    • My CAS Profile allow you to manipulate details of your SciFinder account
    • What's New? takes you to a list of the most recent updates to the SciFinder-n interface.
    • Help opens a new tab, with help related to the screen you had been looking at, as well as a table of contents of Help topics, and a search window for the help topics.
    • Log out lets you log out of your current session. (Note: Always be sure to log out when using public workstations!)

SciFinder-n Searching For options

To the left of the screen is the menu for selecting whcih time of search you wish to do. By default, the highlighted choice whill be whichever type of search you did last.

SciFinder-n search window for substances

To the right of the Search Selection menu is the Search Window, which will vary by the type of search selected.. For searches involving substances or reactions, the window will include both a search term window, and a Draw icon to open the structure drawing tool (discussed in detail in Lecture 14). All search windows will have the magnifying class icon. Click on it to begin the search.

Below the search window is a drop-down menu for searching specific fields appropriate to the type of search you are conducting.. The "Add Advanced Search field" link lets you add additional fielded searches to combine with hou basic search.

Advanced Reference Searching in SciFindern

TSciFinder-n combines all the non-topic search options for References into Advanced Referece Search. When you select References from the search options on the lef-hand side of the screen, look for the Advanced Reference Search link underneath the main seaerch window.

SciFinder-n reference search screen

FClick on the link and then you can select the type of search you wish to do from the drop-down menu, as well as the Boolean operator for combining it with other search options - the default is AND. The options are: Author name, Publication Name, Organization Name, Title,  Abstract/Keywords, Concept,, Substances (by CAS Registry Number or Chemical Name), Publication Year,  Document Identfier., Patent Identifier or Publisher.

Click on the preferred name (in this case, "Ford, Peter C") and then click the Search icon at the bottom of the page.SciFinder-n will automatically find variations on the name (in this case, "Ford, P C" and "Ford, Peter Campbell"). Note that this process is not perfect; you may want to try variations on the name, and use the "Add another author" option to OR the alternatives together.

SciFinder-n Advanced Reference Search dropdown menu

For author searching, enter the author's last name first. As you begin entering the name, a drop-down menu of selected author names will appear. SciFinder-n has a degree of built-in intelligence that allows it to search for alternate forms of the author name which you select. Note that this can generate false hits in some cases.

SciFinder-n author search example

Below are the results of the example author search.

References Answer Set

Below is the first part of a typical references answer set (derived from the search above.)

SciFinder-n author references display, part 1

SciFinder-n author references display, part 2

SciFinder-n author reerences display, part 3

Breakdown of Reference Answer Set Display

Let us now survey this answer set display and identify its key elements.

  • At top: Note the basic search window. You can edit the existing search or enter a new search for references, substances or reactions directly from the answer set display.
  • To the right of the search icon, there is the Bell icon = View Saved Results, the Clock icon = View Search History, and the User icon =My Account
  • Immediately below the line on the left: Return to Home link
  • Below that, on the left: Filter Behavior options.You caan select either Filter by or Exclude , then select one of the filter options and Apply it. your selection. Note that only options which are relevant to the search you have done appear in the column. Here we have:
    • Document Type
    • Language
    • Publication Year
    • Author
    • Organization
    • Publication Name (e.g. Journal Title)
    • Concept (e.g. CA Subject headig or MeSH Heading)
    • Database (CAPlus or MEDLINE)
    • Search Within Results
  • When you click on the drop-down menu for oneof the Filter fields, you see the five most common reultlts. If you then click on View All and there are 10 or fewer results, the list will simply expand. If there are more than 10 results, a pop-up window will appear displaying the full set. (Further explanation below.)
  • Below the filter list is the option to download a Filter Content Report, which allows you to download an Excel spreadsheet report of selected filter data from this answer set.
  • In the center: A large print description of what type of answer set you are viewing (in this case, References) and the total number of items in the set.
  • On the right: A drop-down menu of Sort options
    • Relevance This is the default sort. SciFinder-n uses a propriety algorithm to sort for relevance.
    • Times Cited
    • Accession Number Ascending
    • Accession NUmber Descending
    • Publication Date bewest
    • Publication Date oldest
  • Next to that, a drop-down menu of Display options
    • No Abstract
    • Partial Abstract (this is the default option)
    • Full Abstract
  • Just above the list of answers:
    • If you have selected one or more answers (see below), a Selected tag will appear, with the number of selected answer and a box to deselect all.
    • Next, a drop-down menu for retrieving all the Substances indexed in selected answers or all answers
    • Similarly, a drop-down menu to retrieve all (organic) Reactions indexed in selected answers or all answers.
    • The Citing drop-down retrieves all documents which cite one or more of the selected or all answers in your stating set.
    • One the right, there is a Download icon. Clicking it opens a pop-up whidonw in which you can select the fields to download, assign a file name and choose a file format.

SciFinder-n Download References menu

  • Note the options to download as PDF for easy printing; RTF for annotation and printing; Excel for spreadsheet manipulation and RIS for exporting to EndNote or other bibliographic reference software, among others.
  • Next is the envelope icon for E-mailing results. Note that the recipient myt have their own SciFinder-n account to open the answer set. The recipient will then be able to manipulate the answer set just as if they had done the search temselves. If you want to send results to someone without an account, download the answer set and send the results as an attachment.
  • The bell Save and Alerts icon opens the menu of Save options.

SciFinder-n save records and create alerts menu

  • From this menu, you can save selected answers or the answer set, as well as the search itself (including filters and other options) to your SciFinder-n account and access them whenever you log on. You may also Tag the saved results with one or more keywrotds, and, if you wish, assign a highlighting color to each keyword tag. You will give the search a name, and you may elect to create a search alert. This re-runs your search As available )that is, whenever new results are added to the database), Weekly or Monthly If new hits to your search are retrieved, you will receive an e-mail notification, and you can view the new hits in SciFinder-n. This is an extremely useful way to track new developments in field of interest, or new citations of documents you are following.

Brief Records for References

SciFinder-n brief record for a journal article

  • Above is a brief record for a journal article, taken from the answer set. Note the following features:
    • Above the answer is the record number for the answer in this answer set, and a check box. Click on the check box to Select this answer for saving, downloading, e-mailing, retriving substances, reactions, citing references, and so forth.
    • Next is the article title, as it appears in the article. Clicking on the article title takes you to the full record for the document (see below for a full record display.) Note: In this case, and most situations in SciFinder-n, if you right-click on an item, it opens in a new tab/wndow. This can be very handy for moving back and forth between elements of your search.
    • Below that are the author(s)name(s) as they appear in the article. In this case, Peter Ford's name is highlighted, since that is the search term that caused this item to be retrieved.
    • Below that are the journal name, year of publication, volume, issue, pages, This information, along with the authors and article title are what you would need to properly cite the article. Also on this line are the language of the article and source databases. Note that this article was indexed in both CAplus and AMEDLINE.
    • Below that is the brief abstract of the article (if that is the display option you selected), including an abstract image, if available.
    • Below that are tabs for connecting to Full Text, Substances (from the article), Reactions (from the article) and Citing (that is, references which cite the article) Note that these tabs only appear if there is relevant material to link to - there is no Cited by tab for this article, as no article indexed by SciFinder-n has cited it. For journal articles, since you are logging in from a UCSB IP address (including the VPN and proxy server), you will usually see Get it at UC as an option for connecting to full text. Other types of rererence may have different full text sources.

Full Record - Journal Article

SciFinder-n full record for a journal article, part 1

SciFinder-n full record for a journal article, part 2

SciFinder-n full record for a journal article, part 3

  • At top, just below the line: Return to Results takes you back to the full answer set.
  • Reference Detail - just to the right is the record number out of total number of records
  • Just below that are buttons to retrieve Substances and Reactions indexed in the document Citing records also appears if available.
  • The bell icon opens a pop-up to create a citation alert search; whenever an article citing this one is indexed, you'll get an e-mail alert.
  • Citation Map - creates  (in a new window) a graphic display of articles cited by, and citing, the source document (see below for an example)
  • At right: Download, E-mail, Save and arrows linking to the previous and next document in the set.
  • In left-hand column:
    • Journal information - Journal name, Volume, Issue, Page numbers, Publication year, and (if available) DOI
    • Database information = Record ID numbers for CAplus and/or  PubMed
    • Company/Organization - Name and address of the company/organization to which the corresponding author belonged at the time of publication.
    • Publisher - Publisher of the journal at the time of publication.
    • language - Language of the article.
  • Main body - Starts with the same information as in the brief record, followed by the rest of the abstract and any additional abstract graphics.
  • Keywords - These may be authr-assigned keywords, or keywords assigned by the indexer. All are searchable.
  • Full text link - Same as in brief record
  • Drop-down links for 
    • Concepts - CA Conept aheadings and/or MeSH Subject headings assigned to the article, with associated subheadings See below for an example.
    • Substances - List of substances indexed in the document, including rsCAS Registry Number, 2D structures (when available), Molecular formulas (when available) Substance Roles in the document and Notes as to what information about the substance is contained in the document. Note: If you click on the cAS Registry Number for a substance, it will open the Substance Detail record for the substance. We will discuss Substance records extensivley in Lecture 13.
    • Citations- Gives a list of the references cited in the article, in the order they appear in the document, with first author, abbreviated journal title, DOI if available, publcation year, volume, issue and first page. Note: If the cited article is indexed in SciFinder-n, the citation will be linked to the SciFinder-n record for the cited reference.Not all cited references have been so indexed.

Concepts Detail from a Journal Article Record

SciFinder-n journal record, concepts detail

SciFinder-n Citation Map

SciFinder-n Citation Map 

  • Above is the citation map for one of Prof. Ford's most highly cited articles.
  • On the left: Tabs for
    • Filter by: You can limit the records displayed by Document Type, Author, Concept or Language
    • Cited by: Lists the articles citeb by the parent article in descending order of the total number of times those articles havve been cited in SciFinder-n documents. The darker the background, the more the document has been cited. You may click on the box to open a pop-up box with a brief document record. Clicking on the title in the box takes you t othe doument record, or you can click on Map this recorrd to see a citation map for that document.  
    • Citing: Lists the articles which currently cite the parent document, in descending order by the number of times thy are cited. Documents boxes work the same way as in Cited by above.
  • In the citation map itself;
    • Hovering your cursor over one of the dots shows you the document record for that cited or citing document.Note that if you are displaying the list that the document appears in, it will scroll to that point in the list.
    • You can drag the map around, and zoom in and out with your cursor and mouse wheel.
    • At the bottom of each row of dots, there is (if necessary) a Show more link.

Full Record of a Patent

SciFinder-n full record for a patent, part 1

SciFinder-n full record for a patent, part 2

  • Here's the upper portion of the full record for a patent document:
    • Left-hand side - Patent information includes Patent number, Publication date, Application number, Application date, and Kind code. The paent number is key for locating the patent in other sources. The application date is key for establishing priority date if one is trying to determin whether there is prior art involving the invention.
    • Assignee - The name(s) of the person(s) or entities to whom the patent rights have been assigned. Note that patens by UC inventors are assigned to the Regents of the University of California.
    • Source: The country or intenational organization that issued the patent.
    • Database information The document ID number for the database, in this case, CAplus.
    • Main body of the record - The top of the record is very similar to that for a journal article, with title, inventors, brief abstract and keywords. Below that is the full text link, which for a patent usually includes Espacenet, the European Patent Office's website. For recent patents, like this one, there will usually also be a PatentPak viewer link, which takes you to a specially marked PDF copy of the patent, set up for easy location of substances described in the patent.
    • Patent family - Here is the information on all the different national and international patents that have been issued for this invention. The are listed in tabular form, with the following informatino for each patent:  Patent, Language, Kind Code, PatnetPak OptionsPublication Date, Application Number and Application Date.
    • The priority patent is the first one listed.

Using Filters in SciFinder-n

  • This section deals with the filters available after an author search. Other filters for references, substances and reactions will be covered in later lectures.
  • Before you select a filter, first click either the Filter by or Exclude tab, depending on which you wish to do.
  • Generally speaking, if you click the check box next to a filter item, SciFinder-n will then automatically narrow your answer set to the answers meeting the filter criterion. Unchecking the box reverses the process. You may have multiple filters checked at once.
  • Document Type - Only those document types present in the answer set will be displayed. Only the five most common types will be initally displayed; if there are more, you'll see a View More link. Clicking on it will expand the list.Note: Review refers to scholarly review articles., not book reviews. All review articles are also considered Journal articles.
  • Language - Fairly obvious. Note that non-English documents have titles and abstracts translated into English in the doument record. Note also: For patents, the language is that of the priority patent. For a thorough search, do not exclude patents by language, since there may be other members of the patent family in a language that you can read.
  • Publication Year - The bar chart displays the range of publication years in your answer set on the x-axis. The y-axis corresponds to the number of references in that year.Hovering your cursor over a given bar will display the year and number of rererences. You may enter a staring and finishing range of years in the boxes below the chart. Click Apply to execute the filter. Selected years will be highlighted on the par char. If you wish to see a larger version of th bar chart, click the View Larger buttonReset cancels the Publication Year filter.
  • Author, Organization, Publication Name and Concept will all frequently have too many entrries to display in the left-hand column. To view them, first click the  heading to crop-down the top five items then click View All to get a pop-up window with the full list. An example of an Author list is shown below.

SciFinder-n Filter by Author screen


  • Note the tabs at the top of the chart. The default display is by Top Count, that is, from most frequently appearing to least frequently appearing. You may also select Alphanumeric which sorts the results from A to Z. The third tab is Search which allows you to search within the list. Note, too, the scroll bar on the right. For a long list, you may beed to scroll down the page to see everything...or use Search to find what you're looking for. Search does let you truncate terms with an asterisk, for example, Photosynth* to find multiple forms of the word.
  • Note that if you select more than one item from the list, the items are treated as alternatives, that is, connected by OR. There is, at present, no way to AND together three of more of the same kind of search field except by creating separate searches and combining them on the Saved Searches page.
  • Note that for Authors, each form of an author's name is listed separately. It's best to display the list alphanumerically to better see all te forms together. Note that compound names and transliterated names may appear with different spellings.
  • Publication Name - Generally speaking, this refers to journal titles, but may include other types of publication ames as well, such as the name of the issuing country for patents.
  • Concept - This includes both CA Concept Headings and MeSH Subject Jeadings.. It is frequently a good idea to search for alternate forms of concepts you are interested in. Use truncation to see the most possibilities.
  • Database - This lets you filter according to the source database, CAPlus or MEDLINE. It is rarely useful
  • Search within Results - This lets you search for a keyword within your answer set. To use it, click on Search within Results. A text box will appear below the heading. Enter your tem there (asterisks, Boolean operators and parentheses may be used) and click the Apply button which appears.. To canclel the search and return to the original answer set, click the X next to your search term. Name Search

Publication Name Search

Going back to eh Advanced Reference Search options, here's the screen which appears when you select Journal Name search.

SciFinder-n publication name search

Note that in addition to the journal name itself, you can optionally add voume number, issue number and/or starting page. This option is highly useful for locating specific known articles, or verifying questionable journal references. Note in the example below, a drop-down menu with suggested search terms appears when you begin entering your search terms, and that there is a degree of buitl-in intelligence that can recognize journal abbreviations.

SciFinder-n publication name search example for JACS

Organization Name Search

As with author name searches, as you start to enter an organization name, there will be a drop-down menu of suggestions. Note, however, tha tthe system does not display all possible organization names, or does it aautomatically catch all name variants. For example, University of California , Santa Barbara does not automatically catch uc santa barbara or ucsb.

SciFinder-n organization name search example

If you wish to be complete, you may wish to create a separate search field for each alternative nme and OR them together a in the example below.

SciFinder-n organization name search example, 2

Title, Abstract/Keywords, Concept

Each of these is a more restrictive variant on general topic searching (see Lecture 12 for an in-depth discussion. Title limits the search to words apearing in the title of the document. Abstact/Keyword to terms appearing in those sections

Concept searches the subject headings assigned to the doment by the expert indexers - CA Subject Headings for CAS indexers and MesH headings for  MEDLINE indexing. As noted above, in SciFinder-n, the records for documents which appear in both databases are combined and the concept headings from both are searchable in the single record. When you start entering a cocope search, a drop-down menu of available search terms appears, as in the example below. SciFinder-n concept search example


Substance seaerching within the Reference search option is not as powerful as the main Substance search tool. However, it can be useful if you are combining a substance term witth, say, an author name or names, and/or a concept term. Note that in addition to the CAS Registry Number and Chemical Name options, you can also draw structures by clicking on the Draw tool next to the Search button. Substance searching will be treated in much greater detail in Lecture 13, and searching by structure drawing in Lecture 14.

Publication Year

Publication Year searching lets you specify a beginning year, an ending year, or both. It is rarely used by itself, but can be useful to limit other searches.

Document Identifier, Patent Identifier

These two options are usef for finding the records for known documents. Document Identifiers include CAS Accession Numbers (CAN) and Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). Patent Identifiers include  patent numbers and patent application numbers.Identifiers must be entered exactly, and ther is no drop-down menu of suggestions for identifiers.

© 2022 Charles F. Huber

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This work by Charles F. Huber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Screenshots of SciFinder-n are copyright © 2021 American Chemical Society and are used under fair use for educational purposes only.

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