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SciFinder is an entry to research from many scientific disciplines including biomedical sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, engineering, materials science, agricultural science, and more.

Explore Reactions - Searching Functionality

There is only one search option for Exploring Reactions and that is by reaction structure and, as with searching by chemical structure, that requires the use of the Structure Editor.

Once you have constructed your reaction, you may choose to execute the search for your reaction as a substructure (the default) or allowing variability as you specified.

Before executing your search, you have the option of further refining it using the options listed under Advanced Search.  These include referencing:

  • any specific solvents,
  • any non-participating functional groups,
  • the number of steps in a given reaction,
  • any classifications for the reaction,
  • the sources to be returned (i.e., all, patents, anything but patents), or
  • specific publication years.

My advice, especially if you are not sure what to expect in the way of results or are not looking for something specific, is to do any refinements to your query AFTER you have retrieved your first results list.  That is, move from the general to the specific in your searching.


Tips when Exploring Reactions

There are two types of reaction searching:  partial and complete.

Partial Reactions

Use partial reactions when you want to know:

  • want to know how to synthesize a particular molecule or class of molecule and don't want to limit your options by specifying a starting material.
  • want to know in which types of reaction a particular substance or class of substance participates.
  • want to know which types of reaction a particular substance or class of substance catalyzes.  (Currano, 2014, p225)

To conduct a partial reaction search, you need to:

  1. identify the substance or type of substance of interest (drawn in the structure editor);
  2. identify the role of the substance in the reaction (i.e., either a reactant or a product, usually specified by the direction of the reaction arrow); and
  3. identify bonds to be formed (where the substance is a product) or broken (where the substance is a reactant) in the course of the reaction (a drawing tool).  (Currano, 2014, p225-226)

Complete reactions

Complete reactions are used when you want to see the options for transforming one substance into a different substance.  The steps to conduct a complete reaction search are more or less the same as for a partial reaction search:

  1. identify the structures for both the reactant and the product;
  2. designate the role of each structure in the reaction; and
  3. map atoms from reactants to products or indicate the bonds to be formed or broken.  (Currano, 2014, p227)

Currano notes that while this is not entirely necessary, it will improve precision, especially where reactant or product structures are general or where the same atom or group of atoms appear more than once in the substructure (2014, p227).

For more detailed advice on reaction searching, see Chapter 9 of Chemical Information for Chemists: A primer.


Currano, J. (2014).  Reaction searching.  In J.N.Currano & D.L. Roth (Eds.), Chemical Information for Chemists: A primer (pp.224-254). Cambridge,UK: RSC Publishing.


Tutorial:  Introduction to Reaction Searching.  You must be logged into SciFinder for this link to work