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CHEM 184/284 (Chemical Literature) - Huber - Winter 2024: Lecture 11

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

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

  • STNext (part of the STN IP Protection Suite(
    • 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.


© 2024 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.
Based on a work at

Lecture 11: SciFinder/SciFinder-n, Part 1 - Introduction and Exploring References by Author

What You Can Search in SciFindern

  • In SciFinder-n at present, you can search the following (see also CAS Content ( )
    • 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 62 million as of Feb. 2024. 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 294 million records as ofSFeb 2024 (over 219 million simple substances; over 75 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 2.2 million documents indexed, with over 150 million reactions as of Feb. 2024. Updated daily. Note that reaction 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 687,000 patent recordsUpdated 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 36 million records are available from 1946 to present as of Sept. 20239. 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.
    • ChemZent The German chemical index, Chemisches Zentralbatt, covering the years 1830-1969, has been digitized and translated into English and male available in SciFinder-n, and is simultaneously searchable along wiht the CAPLUS and MEDLINE references, providing additional intormation on 20th century chemistry, and references from the early history of chemistry that are availalable nowhere else , especially valuable for patent prior art searching. CAS editors have added the linkages to the REGISTRY substance records.
    • The Chemical Abstracts Chemical Supplier Insights  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 406,500 substances as of SFeb. 2024. In SciFinder,-n, regulatory information is linked to substance records but may not be directly searched. Updated weekly.
      • CAS Formulus formulations indexing is added to document records where it is available. The full information from Formulus is a separate database on the SciFinder Discovery platform, and its full data is not provided  but some of the information on formulations indexed in the document is available, 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. At presentDocuments in SciFinder-n which have been indexed in Formulus have links to the Formulus record, and vice versa.,The Formulus database itself is being made available to SciFinder-n subscribers at no added cost, but it remains a separate database.
      • CAS Analytical Methods data is also linked to document records where available. Again, CA Analytical Metods is a separate product, on the SciFinder Discovery Platform, but the full methods details are not provided in the SciFinder records themselves, but the additional indexing can be a valuable hint as to whether the full article contains a detailed analytical method or not.  Documents in SciFinder-n that are indexed in CAS Analytical Methods are linked to the Analytical Mehtods records, and vice versa. At present, CAS Analytical Methods is being made available at no added cost to SciFinder-n subscribers, though it remains a separate database.
      • CAS Life Sciences - CAS is currently developing a new product/solution which will incorporate vast quatities of SAR (structure-activity relationship) and ADMET (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity) data, along with target data, for bioactive compouns.  At presnet, this data is being previewed though SciFinder-n, but it is expected that at some point in the near future, it will be spun off into a separate, added-cost, product.

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

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 moment, UCSB subscribes to SciFinder-n., CAS Analytical Methods and CAS Formulus. Switching from one to another requires logging in again, but the same CAS ID and password works for all three.

In the upper right are three options:

SciFinder-n icons in upper right of opening screen

  • Clicking on  Alerts takes you to a list of the search alrts you have created, if any, where you can view results, modify and update searches, etc.
  • Clicking on Saved takes you to various saved items.  See below.

SciFinder-n "saved" items in upper right of opening screen

  • Projects -  Takes you to a list of projects you have created, and where you can creat new projects. Projects allow you do store references from multiple SciFinder-n searches, including references, substances, and reactions. You projects may be shared with collaborators who also have SciFinder-n accounts. For more inforamtion, see below.
  • Saved - Takes you to a list of your saved aswersets.
  • History -  Takes you to a list of your recent searches, arranged most recent first. The list may be filtered by search type (such as substances or references) and by date range.
  • Downloads - A feature not yet activated, which allows you to view all your downloads in one place.
  • Submit feedback - Lets you send comments to the SciFinder-n staff.
  • Clicking on your name opens a drop-down menu:
    • What's New? takes you to a list of the most recent updates to the SciFinder-n interface.
    • Help and Support opens a new tab, with FAQs and searchable help information on using SciFinder-n.
    • My CAS Profile allow you to manipulate details of your SciFinder account
    • Settings allows you to set personal preferences for the way SciFiner-n searches and displays results.  See screenshot below. 
    • Log out lets you log out of your current session. (Note: Always be sure to log out when using public workstations!)

SciFinder-n setting selection screen

Search Options

SciFinder-n prmary search options bar

Below the previous section 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. The currently selected option is underscord (as with References in the image above.)

Additional Search Options

SciFinder-n additional search options

  • Retrosynthetic Analysis - Takes you to the SciFinder-n retrosynthesis tools which uses AI and the CAS substance and reaction databases to allow you to create retrosyntheitc paths to both known and predicted substances. See Lecture 15 for details.
  •  Search CAS Lexicon - The CAS Lexicon is the hierarchical ordering of the CAS concepts assigned by CAS indexers to references. For more details, see Lecture 12.
  • Search CAS Biosequences - Search for biosequences (proteins, polynucleotides) using various sequence searching options, such as BLAST. See Lecture 13 for more details.


Recent Search History

Below the Additional Search Options, SciFinder-n displays your recent search history, in reverse chronological order. SciFinder-n automatically saves your searches, so you can run them again with a sngle click, or pull up the search and edit it.  See examples below:

SciFinder-n recent search history

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

Click 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: Authors, Publication Name, Organization, Title,  Abstract/Keywords, Concept,, Substances ,  Bioactivity Data, Publication Year,  Document Identfier., Patent Identifier or Publisher. Note the arrows next to Authors, Substances, Bioactivity Data and Patent Identifiers. .

SciFinder-n advanced reference search options

Hovering your cursor over one of those options reveals aubmenus:


  • Author Name
  • ORCID ID - The Open Researcher and Contributor ID number is a free, unique ID number available to researchers.


  • CAS Registry Number - The CAS Registry Number is a unique identifier assigned to chemical substances by CAS. For more information, see Lecture 13.
  • Chemical Name

Bioactivity Data

  • Target
  • Ligand
  • Disease

Ptent Identifier

  • Patent Number - includes patent application numbers and granted patent numbers
  • IPC Code - International Patent Classification Codes.These ae patent subject codes assigned by the patent issuing agency. For more information, see Lecture 7.

Author Search

Select Authors-> Author Name from the drop-down menu.  Enter the desired author's name, last name first.. A drop-down list of possible authors will appears.

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.

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 dropdown list

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 search results for "Ford, Peter C", part 1

SciFinder-n search results for "Peter C. Ford", part 2


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 is the description of the search results.
  • Below that are links to retrieve answer sets of Substances, Reactions, or Citing references from all or selected members of the answer set.  To the right of those is a link for the Knowledge Graph for this answer set.  See below for more information.
  • One the right, there are:
    • Combine icon. You may use Boolean operators to combine the current answer se with any of your saved answer sets.
    • 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 must 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 results and create alert options

    • 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. Note that you can now add additional e-mail addresses to receive the alerts you have created. This is an extremely useful way to track new developments in field of interest, or new citations of documents you are following.
    • You can also Add to Project. This only opertes when you have at least one answer selected. To add the entire enaser set, you must select the entire answer set.

SCiFinder-n "add to project" box

  • You can create a new project, designate its collor, or add to a project in which you are a collaborator.
  • Below that, on the left: Filter Behavior options. You can 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:
    • Search Within Results
    • Document Type
    • Language
    • Publication Year
    • Author
    • Organization
    • Publication Name (e.g. Journal Title)
    • Concept (e.g. CA Subject headig or MeSH Heading)
    • CA Section (where available, nams of the CA Sections applied to each document)
    • Bioactivity Data (Presence of Structure Activity Relationship (SAR) or Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Excretion, Toxicity (ADMET) data in the record.)
    • CAS Solutions - If any of the records in the answer set also appear in CAS Formulus or CAS Analytical Methods, then this filter will appear, and you can limit to, or exclude those records.
    • Database (CAPlus, MEDLINE or ChemZent) as the source or sources of the record.
    • Filter Content Report - download tables of the filter content values for this answer set.
  • When you click on the drop-down menu for one of the Filter fields, you see the five most common results. 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.
  • 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 newest
    • Publication Date oldest
  • Next to that, a drop-down menu of Display options
    • No Abstract
    • Partial Abstract (this is the default option)
    • Full Abstract

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, retrieving 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) and Citation Map. 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 reference may have different full text sources.
    • In some recent records, where the original document includes the author(s) ORCID IDs, you'll see a ID icon next to the author's name (see below for example.) If you click on suc an author's name, you'll get a link to that author's ORCID profile, as well as a link to search on that author's ORCID ID.

SciFinder-n brief article record with ORCID ID link

Full Record - Journal Article

SciFinder-n full journal record, part 1

SciFinder-n full journal record, part 2


  • At top, just below the line: Return to Results takes you back to the full answer set.
  • 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, including ORCID links, if available,  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
  • Similar References - SciFinder=n now creates a list of "similar references", based on the Concepts assigned to the document. The top ten similar references by relevance are displayed. The Get Similar References link on the right will open in a new tab an answerset of up to 500 similar references, sorted by relevance.
  • Drop-down links for 
    • Concepts - CA Concept headings 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.
    • Structure Activity Relationships (if available and, until CAS Life Sciences becomes a separate product)
    • ADMET Data (if available and, until CAS Life Sciences becomes a separate product)
    • Cited Documents - 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, publication 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. The View Cited Documents link at the top of the list will create an answer set of all the cited documents, which can then be manipulated, saved, etc. like any other answer set.

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 patent record, part 1

SciFinder-n full patent record, 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 Options Publication Date, Application Number and Application Date.
    • The priority patent is the first one listed.
    • Priority Applications - List of all the priority application numbers and application dates for the patent family.
  • Below the abstract and family data, you'll find Concepts, Substances and Cited Documents, as in a journal article record, as well as, where available, IPC Data - the International Patent Classification Codes for  all patents in this family.  Note that this data is, at present, not hot-linked, only displayable.

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.
  • 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
  • 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, Concept and CA Section 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.
  • CA Section - These are the 80 CA subject sections originally used to organize the printed Chemical Abstracts. Now, they are used to help filter search results by broad subject classification. "Unavailable" generally refers to records from the MEDLINE or ChemZent databases.
  • Bioactivity Data - Indicates the presence of various types of bioactifity data.
  • Database - This lets you filter according to the source database, CAPlus, MEDLINE or ChemZent. It is rarely useful

Publication Name Search

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

SciFinder-n publication name search screen

Note that in addition to the journal name itself, you can optionally add volume 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 drop-down list

Organization Name Search

Organization names in SciFinder-n records include both the organizations with which an author is affiliated, and organizations appearing as patent assignees in patents.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 automatically 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 for "university of california santa barbara"

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 for university of calirornia santa barbara or ucsb

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 appearing in the title of the document. Abstract/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 concept search, a drop-down menu of available search terms appears, as in the example below.  For a deeper look at subject searching in SciFinder-n, see Lecture 12.

SciFinder-n concept search for nanotube


Substance searching 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.

Bioactivity Data

The Bioactivity Data search, allows you to search specifically for substances as Target or Ligand, or for Diseases

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

This option is used for finding the records for known documents. Document Identifiers include CAS Accession Numbers (CAN) and Digital Object Identifiers (DOI).

Patent Identifier

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. IPC Code lets you search by a known IPC code to find patents on a given topic.  Note that there is currently no dropdown list of IPC codes when you start typing an entry, or a thesaurus of IPC codes. For most users, the best bet is to search for patents by keywords or substances, find the best match patents and extract suitable codes from them.


This field allows for searching by the publisher of journal articles. Publisher names may be fully written out or abbreviated. This search is raely used by itself, but can be used to narrow other searches.

SciFinder-n Knowledge Graph

When you have a reference answer set of up to 150 references, you may use the Knowledge Graph button to open a new tab with a visualization of the answer set. If the answer set contains more than 150 answers, the graph will be based on the first 150 answers based on the current filters and sort order As an example, I have taken the "Peter C. Ford" answer set and sorted it by Times Cited. Clicking the Knowledge Graph button will now generate a visualization based on the top 150 most highly cited references authored by Prof. Ford. Depending on the number of answers being analyzed, generating the graph may take a minute or more. See below for the initial display.

SciFinder-n Knowledge Graph of Peter Ford's most highly cited papers


The Knowledge Graph consists of nodes and edges:

  • Nodes (Circles): Represent the references, organizations, and authors contained in the result set and the substances and concepts that are indexed in those references.
  • Edges (Lines): Represent the connections between the nodes.

On the left side of the Knowledge Graph is a drawer that can be opened and closed. When open, the drawer displays the Knowledge Graph filters. Knowledge Graph filters operate the same as filters for a reference result set but are limited to those references that are contained in the graph.

At the top of the Knowledge Graph, there is the key with color-coded information types. Toggling each type  with its slider button will display/hide it the graph.

SciFinder-n Knowledge Graph controls to select what information is displayed

In the example below, I have toggled off all the options except "Authors".  The bubbles represent authors from the 150 papers in the answer set. The larger the buble, the more often that author appears. Naturally, the largest bubble blongs to Peter C. Ford.  The lines coneect authors who appears together in one or more papers. Again, Ford is connected to all the other authors. Clicking on the bubble displays the author's full name

SciFinder-n Knowledge Graph of authors from Ford answer set

You can do similar dispays for References, Concepts, Substances and/or Organizations For substances, clickin on the bubble displays its CARegistry Nubmer, CAS Index name and a structure diagram where available.

If you are a visual learner, the Knowledge Graph can be a powerul tool to pull information out of your answe4r sets.

© 2024 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-n are copyright © 2024 American Chemical Society and are used under fair use for educational purposes only.

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