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SciFinder-n Database Guide

SciFinder Search Tips

  • Searching under All will give you Substances, Reactions, References, and Suppliers in your results if relevant.
  • You can search by Keyword, Substance Name, CAS RN, Patent Number, PubMed ID, AN, CAN, and/or DO
  • Search by substance Name, CAS RN, Patent Number, PubMed ID, AN, CAN, and/or DOI
  • You can also use the Draw tool to draw your substance
    • But use pre-drawn structures whenever possible: click through from a Substance Identifier search, or import from a .cxf or .mol file
  • Note that each result will have References, Reactions, and Supplier buttons you can use for more info on your substance.
  • Don't forget to use the Filters in the left sidebar of the results page to narrow your search!
  • Check out these CAS tutorials for more in-depth explanations of searching for Substances.

Searching by DOI (Digital Object Identifier):

  • This is handy if you want to learn more about the substances used in an article you're reading.
  • Copy and paste the article's DOI into the search box. It is usually located on the cover page of the article and looks like this:
  • Your results will include every substance mentioned in that article.
    • Use the filters in the left sidebar to narrow down your results if the article included a large number of substances.

Advanced Search

  • Click Advanced Search to search by 
    • Molecular Formula
    • Substance Property
    • Experimental Spectra
  • Identifiers include common names, trade names, and chemical names (you must keep track of changes in nomenclature rules over time)
  • CAS Registry Numbers ("CAS RNs") are highly specific:
    • An element, its ion(s), and isotopes may have different RNs.
    • Stereoisomersmay have different RNs.
    • Crystal structures may have different RNs.

Additional SciFinder-n tools for searching reactions

  • Searches title, abstract, and subject indexing for your search term.
  • Terms entered are supplemented by internal synonyms, but these additions are incomplete: freeze dried or fang will not retrieve all of the references brought up by freeze drying or tooth.
  • American spelling is supplemented by British spelling (and vice versa): sulfur will retrieve sulphur
  • Don't forget to use the Filters in the left sidebar of the results page to narrow your search!
  • For more, see these CAS tutorials on Reference Searching in SciFinder-n

Advanced Search

  • Click Advanced Search to search by 
    • Author name 
    • Journal 
    • Organization - Mergers, acquisitions, etc. are not linked, so searching for a parent company will not retrieve everything published by a subsidiary
  • Note that for Author Name some alternative spellings are provided if you cannot enter special characters like umlauts: Mueller will retrieve Müller and only the first author's address is indexed.

There are two tools you can use to draw structures or reactions in SciFiner-n:

When using Draw Tools your results will be organized by 

  • As Drawn - meaning the substance/reaction results match your exact query
  • Substructure - meaning there is an additional structure bonded to your query. Your original drawing will be highlighted in blue.
  • Similarity - these results are variations of your original drawing. If your original drawing can be found within it, it will be highlighted.

Use the Draw Tool in tandem with a Reference Search!

  • Select the References tab
  • Draw or upload your structure
  • Type a search term into the search bar
  • Then hit search

You're results will include articles on your structure having to do with the search term you included

For example: upload ibuprofen and type "pain management" into the search bar before hitting search

SciFinder-n includes tools for searching patents as well. 

  • PatentPak - Some of your results will have a PatentPak button. Click on it for annotated PDFs of the Patent associated with your result.
  • Search for Markush Patent information by checking Search Patent Markush after loading in a molecular structure to the drawing tool. 

SciFinder-n can also be used to search for proteins, protein strings, and nucleotide strings. 

You'll find a series of videos on using this feature here.

There are three types of Biosequence searches:

  • BLAST - Search for proteins as well as nucleotides using a set of local alignment algorithms (BLASTn, MegaBlast, BLASTp, tBLASTn, BLASTx).
  • CDR (complementarity determining region) - Search for antibody and t-cell receptors.
  • Motif searching - Search for short patterns in DNA, RNA, or proteins with queries enabled for additional variability.

Make the most of your results

Take advantage of the filters to the left of your result list to filter out the results you don't need. This will make it easier to see the most relevant results to your topic. Here are some particularly useful tips for organizing your results:


Search within Results

Do your search in References, then scroll to the bottom of the left side bar in your results list and click Search within Results. Type in a second term to quickly and effectively narrow your search. 

An example would be to search "Decomposition" and then search within results for "Paper" to get all the results that focus specifically on the decomposition of paper.


Intersect Saved Results

Try the below example to recreate this intersection. This strategy will combine the results lists of two separate searches you've done. 

       A. Search Decomposition, select References, Save the search. 

       B. Do a new search for Paper, select References, Save the search.

       C. Go to Saved Searches by clicking on the Star at the top of the screen.

       D. Check you two saved searches and click Combine.

       E. Select Intersect to get a list of results that show up in both searches

       F. Select your two searches and click View Results


Use the draw tool.

You can do a reference query and also draw a structure with the draw tool. Your results will include both.

Here's an example: Search pain management in the reference query, and use the draw tool to include an image of ibuprofen.

Booleans: ANDs & ORs

SciFinder-n now lets you search using Boolean Operators: AND, OR, and NOT. These help you organize your keywords and expand or narrow your search.

Use AND to get more specific results
bleaching AND pulp
  AND narrows a search, finding only results containing both terms.


Use OR to broaden/expand a search with related terms
pulp OR paper
  OR expands a search, finding       results containing either or both terms.


Mix and match: (pulp OR paper) AND bleach*

Image credit: "Logic Gates.svg" by HereToHelp, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, is available via Wikimedia Commons. Nancy R. Curtis cropped images from original graphic, and modified colors to accommodate color vision disabilities.

Weaknesses of Searching in SciFinder-n

Weakness Solution Example
Doesn't intuit grammatical variations of terms Create a List of Search Terms with possible variations ahead of time. Then do multiple searches. Remember searching is a multi-step process! Search freeze dried as well as freeze drying
Won't narrow search terms automatically Create a List of Search Terms with possible variations ahead of time. Then do multiple searches. Remember searching is a multi-step process! Search argon, radon, etcas well as noble gases

CASSI (CAS Source Index)

What SciFinder-n Search Algorithms Do For You

  • Automatically search both American and British spelling: sulfur and sulphur, synthesize and synthesise, etc.
  • Automatically search both single and plural forms of a word
  • Might add some related terms to your search (or might not!)
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