Chemical Information?

“A month in the laboratory can often save an hour in the library.”
Frank H. Westheimer

A wealth of information exists outside of Google, although both Google and Google Scholar are powerful tools. How do you search for chemistry related information, documents, references, and other literature?

What if you wanted…

  1. to find references related to your current laboratory experiment?
  2. to find references for your writing assignments?
  3. to find references for your research?
  4. to determine if the ‘science’ you are interested in pursuing is already known?
  5. to cultivate new research or project ideas?

Chemical Databases

Many databases exist that allow searching by author, keyword, title, structure, or even reaction! Most provide tools for exporting search results to text files, word docs (or rtf’s), or reference managers (e.g., RefWorks). The library maintains a current list of major resources. Those that I use most often follow (in no particular order):

  1. American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications (
  2. Article1st and WorldCat (search journals and books, respectively – not chemistry specific)
  3. SciFinder Scholar + structure searching (ChemAbstracts search client)
  4. Reaxys + structure/reaction searching
  5. ScienceDirect (not chemistry specific)
  6. Cambridge Crystallographic Data Center (ConQuest – crystal structure search)
  7. Google Scholar (not chemistry specific)

Be careful…

Do not assume that each of these databases is comprehensive! As much as they would like to be the “one stop shop,” each will have omissions or exclusions of some sort. A good strategy is to use multiple searches of multiple databases. Also remember that a single search term is unlikely to provide comprehensive results. Small changes (additional terms, change in case, etc.) may give drastically different results. Remember to always put your search results in context with the ultimate question(s) asked, and that smaller, complementary searches are usually better than attempting one world beating search!

Searches to try… (use multiple databases as appropriate)


  1. DeSimone, Joeseph
  2. Sorensen, Eric
  3. Trofimenko, S.
  4. Rabinovich, Daniel
  5. Riordan, C.


  1. organometallic (complex)
  2. olefin metathesis
  3. oxidation
  4. olefin oxidation
  5. epoxidation (styrene)
  6. asymmetric oxidation
  7. trispyrazoylborate (synthesis)


  1. Search using a simple ethylenediamineNi(II) fragment
  2. Search for both nitrito and nitro cobalt complexes, and other metal nitrito/nitro complexes
  3. Consider the salen ligand and derivatives
  4. Consider a fragment of the tris(pyrazolyl)borate ligand using different R groups (e.g., Me, t-Bu, Ph, halogens… use your imagination)
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