Tips for Searching the Chemical Literature Using
SciFinder Scholar

Because our license limits the number of simultaneous users of SciFinder Scholar, this guide is designed to ensure that the database is searched efficiently, allowing people to retrieve the information they are looking for in the shortest possible time. Below you will find access informationgeneral tips, tips for text searching and tips for structure searching. Much more extensive information is available at the Chemical Abstracts’ SciFinder Scholar website.

Access to SciFinder

  • Our contract with Chemical Abstracts Service allows the simultaneous use of two “ports” or “seats”.  We share these access points with six institutions all over the globe.  In a nutshell, this means that only two people at any of the six institutions can access SciFinder at a given time.  Occasionally this may lead to brief inability to get on the service, but the distribution of institutions helps to keep this at a minimum.  It is helpful, however, to come to your search with a strategy in mind.

  • There are several locations on campus from which to access SciFinder.  Most chemistry faculty have it installed on their office computers.  It is installed on the computers in the Magruder Hall third floor study areas, and on Pickler Library computers 31, 32, 33 (located on the first floor of the library).  In the event that you run into problems with SciFinder in the library, you might want to contact Carol Lockhart, the Science reference librarian in the library.  Carol is a great resource for search strategies and tips on getting the most out of our library!

General Tips

  • Please do not use the Browse Table of Contents option as there are other services where this can be done. For example: ChemPort provides links to access to the Tables of Contents of many chemistry related journals.  The ACS publications site also provides access to the tables of contents of all ACS journals.  If you are on a computer with a Truman IP address, you also have access to the full text of all ACS journals through our library online subscription.

  • When searching SciFinder Scholar, you may wish to deselect Medline as this will make your search faster. To deselect Medline, click on the databases icon and remove the tick next to the Medline option.

  • If you think your search is going to take a long time then you may want to use the database outside of peak hours, as you will have a better chance of being able to access the database then. Peak hours are usually mid-morning to late afternoon.

  • Please remember to Exit the database when you have finished searching.

Structure Searching

  • If you are intend to do a search on a complicated chemical structure, you can save some time if you create this structure in a chemical drawing program such as ChemDraw, before beginning SciFinder. SciFinder can interpret files from programs like ChemDraw, ISIS Draw  and ChemWindows that have *.mol, *.cxf or *.str formats.

Text Searching (Author/Topic Search)

  • Think carefully about the information you want to retrieve before logging onto the database. Identify several keywords and concepts you are interested in and ways in which you can narrow your search down.

  • When searching by research topic:

    • enter phrases/questions as you would normally say them
    • combine a number of concepts to narrow your search, single concepts often lead to unmanageable searches. e.g. I am interested in the total synthesis of Taxol.
    • Use negative words such as not or except to eliminate areas you are not interested in. e.g. I am looking for articles on fullerenes but not carbon nanotubes.
    • If you want to include synonyms in your search then place them in brackets next to the related concept. e.g. I am interested in the synthesis and isolation of fullerenes (buckyballs)
  • The “Refine Search” option can help make an unwieldy search You can refine by adding further keywords to your research topic, adding an author name, adding a company name, limiting by publication year, document type, language, database and full text availability.

    • For example, you could limit the results to only English language journal articles from the last five years.