Make your own free website on

Cheap Tricks:

Free Electronic Resources for
Chemical Information Instruction



Can't afford SciFinder Scholar, Web of Science or Elsevier ScienceDirect? Here are some recommended free electronic resources you can use to exposure your students or other users to database searching, e-journals and the like, for only the cost of a computer with an Internet connection.


I.  Data Collections


WebElements (


WebElements is a hypertext-linked collection of property data on the first 112 elements including (where available): general, chemical, physical, nuclear, electronic, biological, geological, crystallographic, reduction potential, isotopic abundances, electronic configurations, ionization enthalpy data and additional textual information, especially on the history of the elements.



ChemFinder WebServer (


    This database, provided by CambridgeSoft, provides basic     physical data and structure diagrams.  It also has links to websites containing other data for a large number of chemical compounds. It is searchable by name, molecular weight, molecular formula, CAS Registry Number. It is structure searchable (with a special plugin.)



Sigma-Aldrich Search Center



Like the Aldrich Catalog (which, by the way, is a print resource free for the asking), the web catalog lists basic physical properties for many of its compounds along with cross-references to other print sources, like Beilstein, or Fieser.  Note that if a compound is available in several different grades, the data will usually only be list for one of them, generally the highest purity available. Materials Safety Data sheet information is available.



Similar useful, free catalogs with searchable product data are

available from:

Alfa Aesar (     

Lancaster Synthesis




Organic Compounds Database


    This database, compiled at Virginia Tech and made available by Colby College, provides physical data on a large number of organic compounds, including molecular weight, melting point, boiling point, index of refraction and UV absorption peaks. It is searchable by name, molecular formula or by data values for the above properties.



NIST Chemistry Webbook (


    The NIST WebBook will provide access to the full array of data compiled and distributed by NIST under the Standard Reference Data Program. The current edition, the Chemistry WebBook, contains, among other data:

    (1) Thermodynamic data on an extensive set of organic and small inorganic compounds - Enthalpy of formation, Heat capacity and Entropy for over 5000 compounds.

    (2) A large set of ion-energetics data - Ionization potential     and Appearance potential for over 14,000 compounds.

    (3) IR spectra, mass spectra and electronic/vibrational     spectra data for thousands of compounds.

    (4) Reaction thermochemistry data for over 8000 reactions.

    (5) Constants of diatomic molecules (spectroscopic data) for     over 6000 compounds.

    (6) Thermophysical property data for 16 fluids

    Data on specific compounds may be located by name, formula or     CAS Registry Number.



NIST Physical Reference Data



Contains fundamental constants, atomic spectra data, and more.





Knovel is in the business of digitizing classic handbooks and other texts in chemistry, chemical engineering, environmental science and other areas. For many of these works, including the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Lange's Handbook of Chemistry and Perry's Chemical Engineers Handbook, the tables have been "deeply indexed", so you can search for individual compounds, or by ranges of property values. While display of data is only available to subscribers, searching is freely available to anyone, so students can get a taste of searching the data tables and learn which handbooks contain the information they want before going to the printed volumes.



II. Health and Safety Information


Note that several of the sites above have health and safety information (ChemFinder, Sigma-Aldrich, etc.)  Conversely, some of the sites below have basic property data as well as Materials Safety Data Sheets and the like.



    SOLV-DB is a database of physical, chemical, health and     safety, regulatory and environmental fate data on over 100 common organic solvents, provided by the National Center for  Manufacturing Sciences. It is searchable by name, formula, CAS Registry Number, property data values and so forth.


Hazardous Chemicals Database


    This database, created at the University of Akron, will allow     the user to retrieve information for any of over 1300 hazardous chemicals based on a keyword search. Potential keywords include names, formula and registry numbers (CAS, DOT, RTECS and EPA).



ECDIN - Environmental Chemicals Data Information Network


    ECDIN is a factual databank, created under the Environmental     Research Programme of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the Commission of European Communities at the Ispra Establishment. Chemicals are searchable by name, molecular formula or CAS Registry Number. Possible available date include: Identification, Physical-Chemical Properties, Production and Use, Legislation and Rules, Occupational Health and Safety, Toxicity, Concentrations and Fate in the Environment, Detection Methods, Hazards and Emergency. Not all chemicals listed will have data in all fields.



MSDS from Vermont SIRI (

    This site from Vermont Safety Resources on the Internet     contains a searchable collection of MSDS from a variety of chemical manufacturers. It also includes a large collection of links to other Web MSDS sites.




    This site is maintained by Envirocare International, Inc. It     is a free service bringing together MSDS's from a wide range of chemical manufacturers - over 1000 - and public databases. The site includes a glossary of MSDS terminology and links to sites which explain the how and why of MSDS's



MSDS from Cornell(

    Another good MSDS source.



HSDB: Hazardous Substances Data Base


     In addition to hazard information, HSDB frequently contains brief information on physical properties and on analysis of the substance in various media. Search for your target substance either by Chemical Abstracts Registry Number or by name.



III. Spectra Information


In addition to the NIST Webbook above, there are a few other useful sites for basic spectral data.


Integrated Spectral Data Base System (SDBS)


    This site, from the National Institute of Materials and     Chemical Research in Japan, contains full spectra and, in many cases, peak assignments for 30,000 compounds, including about 19,600 mass spectra, 11,000 13C NMR, 13,500 proton NMR, 47,300 IR, 3,500 Raman and 2,000 ESR spectra. The database is searchable by compound name, CAS Registry Number, molecular formula and NMR or IR peaks. The database is free to the public, but users are asked to download no more than 50 spectra per day without specific permission of the site owners.



Spectroscopic Tools


    This site, based at the University of Potsdam, allows the     user to plug in IR peaks in wavenumbers, proton NMR peaks or mass spectral peaks and retrieve a list of the functional groups which would generate those peaks. It also has a 13C NMR database, searchable by peak or chemical name fragment, which can retrieve structures, spectra, peaks and peak assignments. Some features require the Chime browser plugin.



IV.  Indexes to the Journal Literature


The most important indexes for chemists are not free.  But for basic searches, and for training new users in the basic concepts of electronic searching, there are some excellent possibilities. Many of the providers of large collections of electronic journals include a search engine so you can search across all the journals in their database. These are free for anyone to use, although access to the articles is not. See Section V below for possibilities.


PubMed (

     Citations and abstracts for over 11 million articles in      medicine, life science, and health administration. Includes the full contents of MEDLINE, plus "in process" citations for recent articles which have not yet been added to MEDLINE, and some additional references from life sciences journals. Cover 1966 to the present.




      PubSCIENCE is a broad science database, produced by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Government Printing Office (GPO). It contains current article information taken from the journals of over a dozen participating science publishers, plus all the citations from the DOE Energy database (citations more than 10 years old must be searched in the archive file.) Most records include abstracts. PubSCIENCE offers a simple search interface and has begun to add links to full text articles in electronic form (requires subscription to the corresponding journal), but only a small fraction are available at present.. Future of this database is in doubt at this time.



Ingenta (

     Current article information taken from over 25,000 journals,      covering virtually all disciplines. Each search is carried out in two databases: "Uncover Plus" (1988-present), providing bibliographic information, abstracts and purchasable full text articles, and "Online Articles" which searches a wide range of electronic full-text journals and provides links to the full-text, free for journal subscribers and pay-per-article for most other titles. Basic keyword searching and advanced "search options" are available.




      The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) database is the world's largest source of education information. The database contains more than 1,000,000 abstracts of documents and journal articles on education research and practice.  ERIC is a good source for finding lab experiments and demonstrations for high school or college students as it indexes Journal of Chemical Education and similar publications.



Analytical WebBase (

     This is the Royal Society of Chemistry's index devoted      specifically to the literature of analytical chemistry. The indexing is specific and well-done. This web version covers 1980 to the present and is free to any user; however, only institutions subscribing to the print edition can display the full citation record and abstract. Non-subscribers get only the article title and date of publication.  One good way to use this is to take advantage of the detailed indexing in this databse to find articles, then look them up by author or title keyword in another free database such as PubSCIENCE or Ingenta.



Beilstein Abstracts via ChemWeb (

     Beilstein Abstracts is a bibliographic index (author,      keyword, etc.) to key journals in the organic chemistry literature from 1980-present. It is available as part of ChemWeb, a World Wide Web "club for the chemical community." You must register to use Beilstein Abstracts or other services, but registration is free to all users.




    ETDEWEB includes information on the environmental impact of energy production and use, including climate change; energy R&D; energy policy; nuclear, coal, hydrocarbon and renewable energy technologies and much, much more. Explore the growing collection (early 1995 forward) of over 847,700 bibliographic records with links to over 87,000 documenrs wirh more than 4.2 million downloadable full text pages. ETDEWEB is freely accessible, but requires individual registration, unless an institution has arranged for IP authentication.



Scirus (

Scirus is a science-specific search engine launched by Elsevier Science.  It searches journals (in pdf, post-script and html formats), preprint servers, patent databases, scientific indexes, and university and faculty websites.



V. Full Text Electronic Journals


Most electronic journals (especially in chemistry) require subscriptions, but if you want to expose your users to electronic journals, there are options.  For a good list of individual free titles, see: Fosmire, Michael and Young, Elizabeth, "Free Scholarly Electronic Journals: An Annotated Webliography", Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Fall 2000, (  For a selection of major titles also found in print, see:


American Chemical Society Journals


      The American Chemical Society electronic journals site       allows free searching of articles from over 25 electronic journals in chemistry published by ACS. You may search author and/or title keywords. Searches may be limited by year or starting page number, and you may search any or all journals. Full text searching and full text display are limited to subscribers only.



Royal Society of Chemistry Journals


     The Royal Society of Chemistry electronic journals site      allows searching of articles from over 20 electronic journals in chemistry published by RSC and allied publishers. There are three search modes. You may search fields, including author, author affiliation, journal name, title, abstract or search the full text of the articles. Searches may be limited by year or issue number, and you may search all journals or any single journal. Note that display of the full text is limited to subscribers.



CatchWord Journal Search (

     CatchWord, Ltd. is an electronic journal host for over 700 journals from over 45 publishers. The CatchWord search engine allows searching for articles from that collection of journals by author, article title, journal title, abstract or by full text. The resulting bibliographic records are freely available, but full text is available only to subscribers through CatchWord.



Kluwer Online (

     Kluwer Online's Search function allows searching of tables      of contents and abstracts of articles contained in the Kluwer Online collection of over 250 journals, many from 1996-present.



Wiley Interscience


     Access to tables of contents and abstracts for some 300      Wiley journals is available to guest users.



ScienceDirect (

     ScienceDirect provides electronic access to peer-reviewed scientific, technical and medical journals, including backfiles to titles in several subject areas. Searching the database is free, pdf or html versions of articles is not. Covers titles from all Elsevier branches plus a few third-party publishers.



Highwire Press (

     Many journals made available electronically by Highwire Press (including Science and PNAS) make some portion of their archival material available free to the public.  The page listed above lists the titles and date ranges for free material.  The journals may also be freely searched by full text




BioOne (

     BioOne is an aggregation of over 40 high-impact bioscience research journals. Most of these titles are published by small societies and non-commercial publishers, and, until now, have been available only in printed form.  Access to full-text of articles requires subscription.



BioMed Central (

     BioMed Central published peer-reviewed articles in open access journals in the areas of life science and medicine. Open access means that these articles are (and will always be) made publicly accessible via the Internet without any restrictions or payment by the user.



VI.  Other Types of Scientific Literature


Journal articles are not the only types of literature of interest to chemists.  If you want to expose your users to these other types of information resources, here are some good sites:


A. Preprints


Chemical Physics Preprint Database


    The Chemical Physics Preprint Database is a fully automated     electronic archive and distribution server for the international theoretical chemistry community. This server, going back  to 1994, is maintained at Brown University using the Los Alamos preprint database software.


Chemistry Preprint Server (

    The Chemistry Preprint Server is a permanent web archive and distribution medium for research articles in the field of chemistry. CPS allows users to submit their articles to the server where they become accessible to all the members of Membership in is free, but does require registration with ChemWeb


Los Alamos National Laboratory e-Print Archive (

    Started in Aug 1991, is a fully automated     electronic archive and distribution server for research papers. Archives maintained at Los Alamos include many areas of physics and related disciplines, mathematics, nonlinear sciences, computational linguistics, and neuroscience. Also available at


B. Patents


Espa@cenet (

    Provided by the European Patent Office, esp@cenet allows     searching of European, WIPO, Japanese, and worldwide patents in general. Fulltext of patents is available free online for the last ten years. Earlier years are stored offline and may be ordered.


US Patent and Trademark Office Web Patent Databases


    The USPTO provides fulltext and bibliographic searching of US     patents from Jan. 1976 to the present. Full text of patents, including images is available free of charge.


C. Technical Reports


DOE Information Bridge (

    Department of Energy technical reports from 1996-present,     searchable and displayable in GIF, TIFF or PDF formats. Requires a JavaScript capable browser.


Energy Citations Database (

     Energy Citations contains bibliographic records for energy      and energy-related scientific and technical information from the Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessor agencies, the Energy Research & Development Administration (ERDA) and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The Database provides access to DOE publicly available citations from 1948 through the present, with continued growth through regular updates.


GrayLit Network

    The GrayLIT Network makes the gray literature (technical     reports) of U.S. Federal Agencies easily accessible over the Internet. It taps into the search engines of distributed gray literature collections, enabling the user to find information without first having to know the sponsoring agency. Federal Agencies participating in this project are DOD/DTIC, DOE, EPA, and NASA. Participation will be expanding as the site develops.


D. Dissertations


Digital Dissertations


     The most current two years of the Dissertation Abstracts database, over 225,000 citations and abstracts, freely available for searching with guest access. The database represents the work of authors from over 1,000 North American graduate schools and European universities.


VII. Other Chemical Resources


Organic Syntheses (

     Annual publication with tested syntheses of organic and organometallic compounds. Gives detailed descriptions of synthetic techniques, reagents, yields and safety aspects. It is well indexed by authors, compound names, reaction types, and molecular formulas. The online version is freely available to the public and contains the contents of the entire series, searchable by chemical name, CAS Registry Number, other text terms, and by structure or substructure. Use of this excellent database requires a Java-capable browser, and installation of the free ChemDraw plugin, which is available from a link at the site.


Prepared by:

Chuck Huber

Davidson Library

University of California Santa Barbara

Undated by Kitty Porter 8/14/02