CHM 222 Organic Synthesis

by TIMMS_GP — last modified 2016-04-28T16:30:20-04:00

Tactics for Doing Research in Organic Synthesis

Mercer University offers you numerous online and print resources which will help you find quality information for your organic synthesis research. Let's take a look at some steps to find some useful articles in chemistry journals and also introduce some other handy information sources.

  1. Define your topic
  2. Search online databases for articles
  3. Locate the full text
  4. Useful Web sites for finding spectral data/synthesis procedures
  5. Reference books for SAFETY INFORMATION and more.


    1. Define your topic

    Until you know what it is you want to find, you're not likely to find it! When searching for articles you need to identify key words which represent the essence of what you wish to find. Suppose you are interested in finding articles about synthesizing an aldehyde from an alcohol. The key words to use in this search are:

    synthesis, aldehyde, alcohol


    If you know, in particular, which aldehyde and which alcohol you are interested in, then you could add or substitute those more specific names for the general terms "aldehyde" and/or "alcohol." For example:

    synthesis, acetaldehyde, ethanol


    2. Search online databases for articles

    Once you've defined your topic, you're ready to proceed with searching for journal articles. Scholarly articles are published in scholarly journals. These journals aren't usually free and they sure aren't cheap! So Mercer licenses databases of content from publishers like the American Chemical Society, Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, etc. to provide you with access to articles from these publishers' chemistry journals. When we license directly from the publisher we usually get current journal content, but how far back our access goes varies. When we license content in packages like Academic Search Complete, we don't always have access to the most recent articles. Some publishers make their journal issues available for free once they are a few years old. We'll see how to evaluate what coverage we have for a given title in step 3 - Locate the full text.

    It would be cumbersome to search every publisher's database for information. You'd be doing the same searches over and over in different places. But you have a couple of great databases designed specifically to discover articles. Then you can proceed to try to get access which might be in any of dozens of databases to which we subscribe.


    Article discovery databases - the best place to start searching!

    These databases don't actually contain the full text but you can find article citations and abstracts from the leading publishers in chemistry. You'll then proceed to step 3 - Locate the full text - to see if you have access to a specific title.

      • Web of Science (Web of Knowledge/Thomson Reuters) — Web of Science provides you with citations, author abstracts, and cited references from the world's leading scholarly science and technical journals. It doesn't provide you with the full text directly - once you have an article citation you'll need to proceed to step 3 - Locate the full text to see if you have access to a specific title.


      Web of Science Search Strategy Video


      • SciFinder Scholar — The SciFinder Scholar database is a great way to search for information, either by topic or by structure.  SciFinder can be used in the Tarver Library or in Willet with a hard-wired (not wireless) internet connection.  Your CHM 222 professor will provide you with the information for setting up an account. With SciFinder you’ll find citations to articles, some of which can be accessed directly, including those published by the American Chemical Society. You'd be smart to check out Dr. Trogden's SciFinder tutorial (password required and available from your Org. Chem. professor). Also see these SciFinder Scholar Tutorials from CAS.  *** Please note that if you launch SciFinder from a link within BlackBoard, you should open the URL in a new window or tab so that it does not display within the Blackboard window. Otherwise you may find that you cannot log in! ***


      • PubMed — PubMed comprises more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.


      Full text databases

      If you're inclined to search publisher-specific databases or other aggregated collections of articles directly, here are some recommended databases. Please note that not everything in these databases is available to you in full text.

      • American Chemical Society Journals — Full text access to American Chemical Society publications.
      • ScienceDirect (Elsevier) — Citations and some full text to high quality science journals published by Elsevier, including Tetrahedron. Access is on a rolling basis so coverage will vary depending upon the title. Watch out for the small indicator (looks like a piece of paper with writing on it) to the left of each citation. If it's green you have access; if it's white, you don't.
      • SpringerLink e-Journals — Springer's platform for accessing online journals and books. Access is on a rolling basis so coverage will vary depending upon the title. Watch out for the small indicator (looks like a piece of paper) to the left of each citation. If it's green you have access; if it's white, you don't.
      • Wiley Online Library — Wiley Online Library is a multi-disciplinary database that includes full-text journal articles and some full-text reference sources. Access is on a rolling basis so coverage will vary depending upon the title. Watch out for the small indicator (looks like an open padlock) to the left of each citation. If it's there and open, you have access; if not, you don't.
      • Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) — Provides abstracts and indexing for over 3,800, as well as full text for over 3,200 scholarly journals and general magazines.


      Academic Search Complete Search Strategy Video


      3. Locate the full text

      If you've been fortunate enough to find direct access to a full text article in a database, that's great. However, if you searched in Web of Science or SciFinder Scholar you may have a list of citations of articles for which you'd love to find the full text. This is where we use the A-Z e-Journal Finder.

      To use the A-Z e-Journal Finder you need to search for the article title. Sometimes article titles are heavily abbreviated in citations, making it difficult to decipher. Check out the Anatomy of a Journal Citation page to discover how to decipher the abbreviated journal title. You'll also need to get the journal volume, issue, and page number information.

      The A-Z e-Journal Finder can be searched on the library home page under the 'e-Journals' tab.


      How to use the A to Z e-Journal Finder Video - Finding the Full Text


      If you find that you don't have access to the journal volume in which your article is published, the next step is to do a journal title search in the library catalog. If we have the journal on the library first floor, you'll see a catalog record with coverage dates.


      Catalog Search Video - Finding Print Journals


      If, and only if, we have neither online nor print access and you are both certain that you want the article and that you have time left to wait for its delivery (up to three weeks) then you can submit an Inter-Library Loan request. It's free to you but it does cost Mercer money to get the article. You'll need to complete the Web form with complete and accurate details from the article citation.


      4. Useful Web sites

      Organic Syntheses
      This online counterpart to the Organic Syntheses print series (see below) presents detailed methods and procedures to follow while synthesizing organic compounds. Tends to describe large-scale reactions. Structure and reaction searching requires the free download of the ChemDraw browser plugin, available from a link on the Organic Syntheses main page.

      Spectral Database for Organic Compounds (SBDS)
      This webpage is helpful in finding NMR/IR data for a variety of compounds.

      Sigma Aldrich Online
      The online counterpart to the Aldrich Catalog of Chemical Compounds. Locate physical data, pricing, chemical handling precautions (MSDS=Material Safety Data Sheets), and more.

      Organic Synthesis Laboratory Project page, Department of Chemistry
      Links to useful resources for the project, instructions for requesting chemicals and disposing of waste, and poster session information.

      back to top

      5. Reference Books

      Reagents for Organic Synthesis (Fieser's) - Multiple Volumes - REF QD262 .F5
      The best place to look up safety information for all of the chemicals. Provides concise descriptions, useful structural formulas and selected examples of applications - providing references to new reagents as well as to reagents included in previous volumes. Entries abstract the most important information on reagents, including preparation, uses, suppliers, critical comments, references and more. The reagents are considered in alphabetical order by common usage names.

      Dictionary of Organic Compounds (Heilbron's) - REF QD251 .D489
      Lists alphabetically over its three volumes the physical and chemical properties of the principal carbon compounds and their derivatives, along with relevant literature citations.

      MERCK Index - REF RS51 .M4
      A one-volume encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, and biologicals that contains more than 10,000 monographs. Each monograph in this authoritative reference source is a concise description of a single substance or a small group of closely related compounds. In addition, there are Name, Formula, CAS Registry Number and Therapeutic Category/Biological Activity indexes. The collection of supplementary tables contains physical, chemical and biomedical data and listings of pharmaceutical company names, locations and experimental drug codes. The Organic Name Reactions section contains over 400 reactions featuring descriptions, literature references and graphical depictions. Useful for safety awareness.

      Organic Syntheses - REF QD 262 .O722
      Contains the most convenient laboratory methods for preparing organic chemical reagents. Collective volumes every five years revise and update previous volumes. Also available online.

      Encyclopedia of reagents for organic synthesis - REF QD77 .E53 1995 (8 vols.)
      This reference contains an authoritative and systematic description of the use of all reagents in organic chemistry. It includes approximately 3500 alphabetically arranged articles, a comparison of reagents with others capable of similar chemistry, a pro and con assessment for each reagent, physical data and usage precautions, extensive cross-referencing and substantial subject and molecular formula indexes.

      Handbook of reagents for organic synthesis - REF QD77 .H37 1999
      A multi-volume set that provides a list of the most important and useful reagents employed in organic chemistry.

      Vol. 1 Reagents, auxiliaries, and catalysts for C-C bond formation
      Vol. 2 Oxidizing and reducing agents
      Vol. 3 Acidic and basic reagents
      Vol. 4 Activating agents and protecting groups
      Vol. 5 Chiral reagents for asymmetric synthesis
      Vol. 6 Reagents for High-Throughput Solid-Phase and Solution-Phase Organic Synthesis
      Vol. 7 Reagents for Glycoside, Nucleotide, and Peptide Synthesis
      Vol. 8 Reagents for Direct Functionalization of C-H Bonds

      Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (CASSI) - REF Z5523 .C52
      Cumulative index of all journals indexed in the Chemical Abstracts database. The journal titles are listed alphabetically by title. This index is also helpful when trying to decipher the abbreviations for chemical journals commonly used in citations. The abbreviation is emboldened within the full title. See this online guide for help with abbreviated journal citations.

      Aldrich Catalog of Chemical Compounds - REF TP202 .A43
      This is the catalog from which chemicals may be ordered for the synthesis project. Describes physical characteristics of specific chemicals. Includes references to Fieser's Reagents for Organic Synthesis and the Merck Index.

      CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics - REF QD65 .H3
      An essential source for all physical sciences, this contains essential information: constants, unit measures, conversion factors, symbols, terminology, physical constants for organic compounds, properties of the elements, biochemistry, and a range of mathematical tables.

      1001 Chemicals in Everyday Products - TP200 .L49 1999 (3rd floor)
      A general book that may help you in choosing a compound for your project. Contains answers to consumers' chemical questions and information about food additives, cosmetics, cleaning products, and more.

      ACS Style Guide - REF QD8.5 .A25 2006
      Reports for the organic synthesis project must be presented according to the standards and conventions presented in the American Chemical Society Style Guide.

      back to top