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CHEM 500 - Research Methods

Research tips & Resources for Chemistry Graduate Students

What Can You Find in SciFinder? (CAS SciFinderⁿ)

You can "authoritatively identify a chemical substance and its related chemical structures, chemical names, regulatory information, and properties, including CAS Registry Numbers®, reaction schemes, step-by-step experimental procedures, detailed conditions, and product yields."

Contains the "world's largest substance search for both organic and inorganic substances"

Search by:

  • Overall by Keyword, Substance Name, CAS RN, Patent Number, PubMed ID, AN, CAN, and/or DOI
  • Substances
  • Reactions
  • References = Find articles, patents, reviews, biographies, clinical trials, conference materials, editorials, preprints, reports, etc.
  • Suppliers
  • Biosequences = Enter a protein or nucleotide string
  • Retrosynthesis = Draw or import a structure to perform a retrosynthetic analysis

Getting Started with SciFinder - Register

You first need to Register to Use SciFinder - create a free account for yourself with a login and password.

SciFinder is only available to Boise State University (BSU) employees or students, so you must have a BSU email address and use it to register.

Once you register, you will receive an email message. Complete the registration process by agreeing to the SciFinder terms of use (required).

Login to SciFinder

Login to SciFinder 

If you're already registered to use SciFinder, your ready to Login

NOTE: Accounts log off automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity.

SciFinder on Your Mobile Device

SciFinder Mobile 

There's no app to download, no IP address restrictions; just point the Web browser on your mobile device to and login.

Getting Started with SciFinder - Quick Guide & Tutorials

If you're new to SciFinder, you may want to review the SciFinder Quick Reference Guide.

On the SciFinder Training website, you will find short, targeted tutorials and videos organized by search type. Here are a few videos you might find helpful when getting started.

  • Use a Structure Search to Find Compounds: how to search for chemical compounds using a structure search; how to access physical, chemical and biological property information. Find references associated with the substance, related reactions, information about its commercial availability and regulatory information, when available
  • Search for Specific Reactions or Reaction Typehow to find information about a specific chemical reaction or reaction type; how to access associated reaction information, such as catalysts, solvents, yields, and experimental procedures

  • Search for a Specific Topic: how to find information about a specific research topic; how to use CAS indexing to fine tune your search; what to do if you only need a few good references as compared to a more comprehensive answer set

NOTE: You may have to scroll down to find the video. Be patient! Sometimes the videos are slow to load in the page after you click the link below.

How Do I Figure Out Search Terminology?

Search the CAS Lexicon to find concepts and substances to build a Reference Search. So if you can't spell very well and forget what PFAFS stands for, you can find it in the Lexicon, as well as additional, similar concepts and terms.

From within SciFinder, you will see a "Launch CAS Lexicon" button that will take you to the Lexicon search page.

SciFinder search page with Launch CSA Lexicon Circled

NOTE: Although you can use the CSA Lexicon link above to get to the Lexicon search, it will require you to log into SciFinder

Finding Full Text Articles from SciFinder Search Results

Once you have a completed a SciFinder search and have a list of articles you want, you can find the full text by clicking on the "full text" button in the lower left of each article.

SciFinder record with Full Text button circled

You will see 3 choices:

  • Find It leads you to "in house resources", i.e. full text available through BSU's Albertsons Library
  • DOI means "Digital Object Identifier", and will lead you to Full Text openly available on the Internet, also called "Open Access"
  • View All Sources will take you to a page that lists gives you choices for how you access the full article

Mine those Article Reference Lists for More - Citation Mapping

When you find relevant articles, take a look at the references cited in each article, and if the article has been cited, look at the articles that cite it. This is an excellent way to expand your search and make sure you've found all the critical articles in your research area. SciFinder has 2 features that help you do this

Watch this short video tutorial, Citation Maps from Reference Searches in SciFinderⁿ, or read on.

The "Citing" button

Where ever you see the Citing button click it to see articles that cite the article you found. This image shows the Citing button in the lower right of a record in the search results list

Search results list record with Citing button circled lower right


The Citation Map button

You can enter this feature wherever you see the Citation Map button. The image below shows the button in the bottom right corner of a SciFinder record in the search results list:

Search Results record with Citation Map button circled lower right


Th following image shows the Citation Map button in the middle of the top navigation bar after you've selected a particular record to review.

Within SciFinder record top navigation bar with citation map button circled


Citation Mapping Basics:

Once you have selected a record you want to mine for additional sources, click the Citation Map button

Within the Citation Map feature, the "Root Article" is the article in your search results that you've chosen to mine for additional sources. For example, in the images used in this example, the article we're mining is 

Recognition of the 3' splice site RNA by the U2AF heterodimer involves a dynamic population shift, By: von Voithenberg, Lena Voith; Sanchez-Rico, Carolina; Kang, Hyun-Seo; Madl, Tobias; Zanier, Katia; Barth, Anders; Warner, Lisa R; Sattler, Michael; Lamb, Don C. in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol113, No 46, pages: E7169-E7175

This is the Root Article in our example below

Once in the Citation Map, notice the left navigation bar. You can use the tabs to:

  • Filter your results by Document Type, Author, Concept, and Language
  • Click the "Cited By" tab you will see all the sources cited by the "Root Article" in purple
    • This is called searching backward into the citations of an article
  • Click the "Citing" tab you will see all the sources that have cited the "Root Article" in green
    • This is called searching forward as a root article will only have this type of citation if it has been published and available long enough for researchers to find and cite it

You will also see a Citation Map like the one below, with the Root Article in the middle, The Cited By sources in purple to the Left, and the Citing sources in green to the right

Citation Map with Root Article noted in the middle, Cited By sources on the left and Citing sources on the right


If you put your mouse arrow over any of the Purple or Green dots, a pop up box will appear telling you the title of the source represented by the dot.

Example of pop up citation box when cursor arrow is pointed at green Citing dot


You can expand the map to follow the citations in any of the sources by clicking on the Expand Citations button in the pop up box.

Citation map expanded to show sources cited by one of the articles cited by the root article


Beware! It is easy to get lost drilling down into all of the citations. It may help to drill down into the citations by using the filters to limit by documentation type or author. In the left navigation bar under the Author filter, you'll note that authors are listed in order by the highest cited to the least cited.

Citation Map Author Filter showing most cited authors first

Finding Spectra in SciFinder


1. Perform a Substances search for the substance of interest.

  • Tip: If you search with the CAS number for a substance, the search should return a single record.

2. Click on the substance record.

SciFinder substance record

3. In the record details, look for the "Experimental Spectra" section and open the dropdown menu.

  • There is usually also a "Predicted Spectra" section, but the "Experimental Spectra" are preferred because the spectra come from actual experimental data. If there are only "Predicted Spectra" listed for your substance, try searching another database like Reaxys or SDBS. 

4. Select the tab for proton NMR spectra (1H NMR). It's usually the first tab.

5. Select one of the links for "View Proton NMR Spectrum" to see the image.

  • The "Source" on the right side lists the company, lab, or literature that the spectrum came from.

6. Once you have opened up the spectrum viewer, look below the image. There should be a Download button for a .JPG file. 

7. You also will see the citation information listed at the bottom of the spectrum viewer page. 

  • If the spectrum came from a journal article, you should see a link to the literature record.
  • If the spectrum came from a supplier or commercial lab, there might be no associated paper or link.

Exporting References from SciFinder to EndNote Web

To import references from SciFinder, start from your SciFinder search results page

Step 1 - Select the records you want by clicking the check boxes next to each record or click the box at the top of your results list to select all of the records


Step 2 - Click the Download button in the top navigation bar toward the right side

Right side of SciFinder top navigation bar with download button circled


Step 3 - In the Download Reference Results box, use the drop down arrow to Change File Type to “Citation (.ris)"

Download Reference Results menu with Citation (.ris) style circled

In the upper right of this same menu, select whether you want to download "All Results" in your search just the "Selected Results" - i.e. the individual record boxes you checked - or a Range of records you designate

At the bottom of the menu decide what parts of each record you want to download with the citation, including: The search aka "task history", abstract, concepts, substances, analytical methods, formulations, and citations from the articles' references

Once all of your decisions are made, click the "Download" button.


Step 4 - Login to EndNote Web

Step 5 - Click the "Collect" tab in the top navigation bar, then the "Import References" option

EndNote navigation bar with Collect and Import References options circled

Step 6 - In the Import References menu, choose the file you want to upload, then scroll through the Import Options and Select “RefMan RIS”

Import Options shown with Refman RIS circled

Step 7 - If you want the references grouped together under a particular topic, use the dropdown arrow next to "To:" to Select the Group or folder where you want the references to go. You can create a new group as well.

Import References with location drop down menu showing

Step 7 - When your ready, Click the Import button

When the importing of your records is complete, you will see a note in red that your "references were imported" into the group or file you designated.

Example of References were imported message

Step 8 - Go to the “My References” tab in the top navigation bar to find the references you imported. If you designed the reference to go into a particular group, you will need to look under MyGroups to find the folder or group you designated

Tell SciFinder to Keep You Posted

You can Create a Keep Me Posted (KMP) Alert

Once you have a completed a substance or reference search and have a set of results, set up a KMP Alert. Use the "Save and Alert" button in the right of the top navigation bar to save your search and have SciFinder periodically check for new records.

Top right of navigation bar with Save and Alert button circled


You will receive a SciFinder-n Alert Results for References email automatically to notify you via email when new records on your topic become available.

Example of a SciFinder Keep Me Posted Alert Email

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