Investigating SciFinder Scholar

10 Jan 2001
We have a trial of this CAS product, and my hope is that it will prove to be an efficient and effective replacement for Chemical Abstracts. I got it running on my machine yesterday (less than 5 minutes to install) and did two quick Author searches, with the following results:

Marcia France publications and Erich Uffelman publications.

Setup is pretty easy --just have to add one file to the unzipped executable, on any machine that's to use the software.

To get a sense for the powers [or limitations] of SFS I did a search for "pheromones and animal behavior" (Tom Nye's assignment for Bio182 this term) under 'Explore by Research Topic', just to see what would happen.

842 references were found containing both of the concepts "pheromones" and "animal behavior".
73327 references were found containing either the concept "pheromones" or the concept "animal behavior".
17947 references were found containing the concept "pheromones".
56222 references were found containing the concept "animal behavior".
My god... I was able to save a set of 100, and they come with abstracts... and here's a subset in journals we have

The ChemPort service connects to, among many others, Academic Press, AAAS, and National Academy... so articles in full text can be linked.

Here's what the initial menu offers:

Obviously it's possible to search by Registry Number and formula. Here's the menu:
I did a search for 33069-62-4 (Paclitaxel) and got this:

(and see also the detailed Registry entry)

Now this feature:

...which gets this amazing summary of 78 items (one from Washington-Lee High Sch...) covering chemistry, geology, psychology, biology, physics, engineering...

11 Jan
Results of a search for Lorig as author, and here's what I get when I choose "analyze"

Lots of installations today (Pleva, Tuchler, Alty, Lichti, Lorig, Settle), including three in the Asylum.

12 Jan
Erich Uffelman suggested that I do a search for "methyliminodiacetic acid", and the results are here. He also requested a search for James P.Collman pre-1980

13 Jan
Marcia France sent this request:

here's a challenge to test out the search engine. The professor I am working with suggested that I use trimethylsilyl chloride to pick up excess methyl lithium in my reaction. Can you find me a reference? I am making dimethyl zirconocene complexes, and the reference might be in a paper concerning the synthesis of those (or may be in something unrelated?) Or perhaps in a synthetic by Rich Jordan? I can guess at the procedure, but a reference would be nice. Perhaps try looking for papers containing the two compounds together first?
It didn't take long to find at least the first stage of answers --she'll evaluate and perhaps ask for a more refined search.

22 Jan
Amy Burke brought me a search for a compound for a project in the Water Resources course --she'd been to the Chemistry department to try to find out about it, and they (unanimously...) sent her to me. This example demonstrates a utility outside of chemistry, and is certainly the sort of thing that I could never have found in the paper Chem Abs.

24 Jan
Some searching for possible Environmental Studies connections wasn't as glorious as I'd thought it might be... which is probably mostly a matter of which journals get indexed in CA. Striking predominance of Japanese journals in the results. On the other hand, searches on Brazilian mining were very fruitful.

Installed SFS on Elizabeth Knapp's machine, for a geochemist's opinion.

25 Jan
Installed on Dave Harbor's GIS machine, and he did a bunch of searches ("heavy metals in urban stormwater", "kaolinite clay in soils", "how climate change affects iron in soils", "climate change soils pleistocene") with stunning results --far more hidden away that's of interest to geologists than one would ever have guessed.

29 Jan
I did a search for 'kyoto protocol' and got 126 hits, covering a very broad range of literatures and including symposia. This is probably a powerful tool for getting at technical literatures...

10 Feb
SFS solved a problem in Bio182: Cullen Carter's topic has to do with pheromones and ants, and the biological literature is notably unforthcoming. I happened to try SFS with a name (Attygalle) which led me to  a real treasure trove and told me that  mellein was a specific trail pheromone.  And it turns out that SFS has 600+ items having to do with (pheromones and ants). True enough, much of the literature will be inaccessible for the particular student, but point is that SFS has once again shown itself to be valuable far beyond Chemistry.

27 Mar
See  Michelle Wilde's summary of responses to her queries about substituting SciFinder Scholar for Chemical Abstracts