Department of Chemistry   University of Oxford

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  • I am a current faculty, staff member, or officially registered student of the academic institution through which I am accessing SciFinder.
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  • I may retain a maximum of 5,000 Records at any given time for my own Academic Research use or to share within a Project team for the duration of the Project.
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SciFinder Web (Chemical Abstracts)



  • SciFinder allows researchers to search the large comprehensive Chemical Abstracts bibliographic database, and associated structure and reaction databases.
  • SciFinder is designed to be used by practising chemists, and has an inbuilt HELP system.
  • Oxford University's SciFinder subscription now allows unlimited simultaneous users
  • The SciFinder License (displayed at the start of each session) and the CAS Information Use Policies apply to use of SciFinder.

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Database Content

SciFinder allows searching of the following databases: (See also: Content at a Glance)

  • CAplus: the world's most comprehensive database of chemical literature with over 31 million records (as well as journal articles and patents, includes Conference proceedings, Technical reports, Books, Dissertations, Reviews, Meeting abstracts, Electronic-only journals and Web preprints). Data originally from 1907, updated daily. About 3,000 records added every day. CAS monitors more than 10,000 journals from around the world; for over 1500 core chemical journals all articles as well as book reviews, letters, news, editorials etc. are included.
    • CAplus includes biochemistry, organic chemistry, macromolecular chemistry, applied chemistry and chemical engineering, physical, inorganic, and analytical chemistry. The Sections of Chemical Abstracts show the breadth of CA subject coverage
    • pre-1907 records added for:
        • articles from JACS 1879-1906, J. Phys. Chem. 1896-1906
        • Royal Society of Chemistry journals 1841-1906
        • more than 500 frequently cited landmark papers of enduring value, 1900-1912
        • Journal of the Chemical Society Abstracts 1890-1906
        • US chemical patents 1900-1906
        • Chemisches Zentralblatt 1897-1906 (machine translated records)
  • CAS Registry: includes over 50 million organic and inorganic substances and 61 million biosequences; latest substance counts here; can be searched by name, molecular formula, structure or substructure. More than 1 billion predicted and experimental properties are available.
  • CASREACT: reaction database - more than 19 million single- and multi-step reactions, taken from more than 280,000 journal articles and patents. Data from 1840; updated weekly. Recently enhanced with content from three Wiley reaction collections: Organic Syntheses, Organic Reactions and Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis.
  • CHEMCATS: Commercial availability information for over 35 million products, from more than 1000 suppliers' catalogues.

  • CHEMLIST: Regulated Chemicals Listing - contains over 248,000 chemical substances on national and international chemical inventories and regulatory lists; updated weekly.
  • MEDLINE - a biomedicine database; over 18 million references; data from 1947. Medline is automatically searched in addition to the Chemical Abstracts databases, and by default Medline references are displayed at the end of an answer set.

Basic search tips

Search/Explore by

  • Research Topic - to find literature on a topic of interest
    • use a natural language sentence to describe your search topic
    • you can select only those references which contain your topic exactly as entered
    • otherwise SciFinder's inbuilt 'intelligence' automatically includes alternative spellings, synonyms, abbreviations and truncated word forms
    • restrict answers by selecting year, document type, language, author name, or organisation name before search
  • Author Name - to find literature written by a specific author
  • Company / Organisation name - to find literature written by authors at a specific location
  • Document Identifier - if you have a Chemical Abstracts accession numberor document number, or a patent number
  • Journal - to find papers in a specific journal, and to quickly locate a known journal article
  • Patent - to quickly locate a known patent number
  • Chemical name, exact chemical structure, chemical substructure, molecular formula or CAS Registry Number - to find literature on specific chemical substances or substructures
  • Chemical Reactions
    • Reaction Searching overview
    • limit search by prohibiting substitution at nodes and fusion on rings and chains
    • limit search by product yield, to a particular type of reaction or to a certain number of steps
    • limit reaction searches by selected solvents

Search Results

Search results (bibliographic references, structures and reactions) can be displayed, linked to further information, further processed (analysed, refined, categorised, duplicates removed) and/or saved, combined, printed or exported.

After retrieving references:

  • Display: when references are displayed on screen you can change:
    • sort order: default is reverse chronological order - most recent first. Alternatives are to sort by first author name, publication year or title
    • abstracts: view without, or with partial or full abstracts
    • number of reference displayed per page
  • Click a reference title to display the full record, inlcuding all indexing, for the reference
  • Follow links to further information for all, selected or individual references:
    • Substances - retrieve all substances mentioned in reference(s); compounds may be limited to those associated with particular roles; expand your reference answer set by retrieving additional references for these compounds
    • Reactions - retrieve all reactions mentioned in reference(s)
    • Citing - retrieve all articles which cite original reference(s)
    • Cited - retrieve all articles which are cited by original reference(s)
    • Full Text (for individual references only) - link to full text of journals and patents which you are entitled to access (via CAS Full Text Options)
  • Refine references: search again, within the set of retrieved references, by author, topic, company, document type, language, publication year
  • Analyse references: group results by eg. author, CAS registry number, company/organisation, document type, journal title, language, publication year
  • Categorize references: detailed analysis based on CAS indexing terms
  • Remove Duplicates: removes any Medline records which are duplicates of a Chemical Abstracts record. To eliminate all Medline references Refine results by Database and select CAPLUS only. To see Medline and Chemical Abstracts references together, and more easily spot duplicates yourself, sort results in title order.
  • Save answers: you can save answer lists of references, substances, or reactions to the SciFinder server and re-use them later in future SciFinder sessions
  • Combine answer sets - substances, reactions, and references in an active answer set can be combined with those in a previously saved one.
  • Print: Results can be printed in 4 different formats: Summary without abstracts, Summary with partial abstracts, Summary with full abstracts or Detail (full record including all indexing).
  • Export: export references as:
    • PDF file
    • Rich Text Format* (for use in most Word Processors)
    • Tagged Format - to import into a bibliographic program such as Endnote
    • Quoted Format - to import into a spreadsheet program such as Excel
  • N.B. A maximum of 500 answers can be printed or exported at once (100 for the Detailed or Tagged format); our license specifies that no more than 5,000 records may be stored on your computer at any time.

After retrieving substances:

  • Chemical substances can be displayed, linked to further information, further processed (analysed, refined) and/or saved, combined, printed or exported in a similar way to references, although some of the options will differ.
  • Explore from substance displays: use a substance record display to launch a new search or refine a previous one
  • Follow links to further information:
    • View Properties
      • predicted property values may include: number of hydrogen donors, number of hydrogen acceptors, number of rotatable bonds, molecular weight, logD, logP, pKa, solubility in water, organic carbon absorption coefficient (Koc), bioconcentration factor, boiling point, vapor pressure, heat of vaporization, flash point and C13 NMR spectra (calculated using Advanced Chemistry Development/ACD Software)
      • experimental property values may include: boiling point, melting point, refractive index, density, and optical rotation; also NMR, Infrared and mass spectral data
      • see Property Data Definitions
      • Export Property data to Excel
    • View Commercial Sources - Export commercial chemical suppliers records from CHEMCATS into Excel: create reports listing commercial sources, including contact information and pricing, for substances of interest. Catalog information is exported into Excel spreadsheets for sorting, manipulation, and reference.
    • Reactions - retrieve all reactions associated with substance(s)
    • References - retrieve all references associated with substance(s)
    • Regulatory Information - see if substance is on any national and international chemical inventories and regulatory lists

After retrieving reactions:

  • Reactions can be displayed, linked to further information, further processed (analysed, refined) and/or saved, combined, printed or exported in a similar way to references, although some of the options will differ.
  • Sort reaction answer sets e.g., by number of steps, percentage yield, publication year, or similarity
  • Follow links to further information:
    • Get similar reactions - the search algorithm looks for single-step reactions with identical reaction centers and related structural characteristics
    • Substances - retrieve all substances involved in reaction(s)
    • References - retrieve all references associated with reaction(s)

Keep Me Posted Alerts

  • Set up alerts for references, topics or substances of interest. Results are not emailed but appear next time you login.
  • Whenever the Create Keep Me Posted icon in the upper left of the SciFinder window is active, you can set up an alert based on the initial query for the current search, or on an answer set generated using a Refine operation
  • Combine Keep Me Posted results

Collaboration Tools

  • Use My Connections to link to other SciFinder users within Oxford to share both research comments and tagged references
  • Add comments to references for sharing information and insights with colleagues
  • Tag references with helpful descriptive user-defined terms

Solutions to Common Problems

Technical Problems

  • Java is required for the structure drawing editor; visit the Java test page to see if Java is working on your browser. More Java troubleshooting.
  • Windows & IE9 - blank page displayed; SOLUTION: set Compatibility View - instructions here
  • Cannot link to Fulltext articles:
    • need to allow popups for site:
    • Find under: Firefox/Preferences/Content

Search Problems

  • Substructure search results with 'incorrect' bonding retrieved:
    • In addition to 'correct' answers (with bond values as specified) you may retrieve apparently 'incorrect' compounds (with correct atoms but different bond values). By default, the search software interprets your substructure broadly to ensure that no potentially relevant answers are missed.
    • Return to the chemical structure search page, and check the Show Precision Analysis box - this will divide resulting compounds into groups:
      • Conventional Substructure: the 'correct' answers, with bonds exactly as you specified
      • Closely Associated Tautomers and Zwitterions: some delocalisation, bonds not exactly as specified.
      • Loosely Associated Tautomers and Zwitterions: bond arrangements differ significantly from that drawn, but may still be relevant
      • Other: bonding requirements totally ignored
    • You can then select one or more of these groups for further examination.
  • Structure too general: if you get this error message, the structure query is too general and the search will not work. To make the search more speciific do one or more of the following:
    • specify a formula weight range
    • limit the search to certain classes and types of compound
    • make the substructure more specific by specifying more atoms and bonds
    • lock out further ring closures
    • lock out further substitution at specified atoms
  • Inorganic compounds: these can be difficult to search, for hints see Searching Inorganic Substances and Searching Coordination and Organometallic Compounds (Ben Wagner, University at Buffalo, New York)
  • Isotopes: It is not possible to search for specific isotopic labels. A SciFinder search retrieves all isotopic variants - you can then refine the search results to select (or exclude) isotope-containing substances.
  • It is not possible when drawing structures to exclude specific atoms or R groups. However, after a substructure search use Refine by Atom Attachment to examine occurrence of different possible R groups or substituents at any position, and select only those of interest for further processing.
  • It is possible to exclude multi-component compounds (eg. polymers, mixtures) from initial structure/substructure search results. Coordination compounds and incompletely described substances can also be excluded.

* Please send any contributions for this section (hints that may be of interest to other users; problems you have solved; problems you have not solved!) to:

Further information

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Chemistry Department Information Officer, Chemistry IT Centre, Telephone: 75698, email:

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Updated 22/2/16. If you have any comments please contact:

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