“Without SciFinder-n, I wouldn't be able to do my job”

March 14, 2024

A new series explores how WUR researchers and teachers value and use the Library's literature databases that are central to WUR’s research domains. First up: Scifinder-n, a database for scientific literature and information in chemistry and related fields. Collection specialist Corrie Snijder and two researchers share their experiences.

What kind of database is SciFinder-n?

Corrie Snijder describes Scifinder as a large library with information on chemical substances, their structures, names, properties, and references to scientific literature and patents. SciFinder doesn't fit the traditional definition of a database, she continues: "it's more like an essential instrument for researchers in various fields like chemistry, biochemistry, and physics to do their labwork".

SciFinder-n: what’s in it for me?

Dr Dieuwertje Streefkerk from the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry finds SciFinder-n invaluable for her daily work: “Without Scifinder I wouldn’t be able to do my job. I use it to search for literature, but mostly I use it to search for specific reactions and substances. The CAS draw tool is very handy for searching for substances or looking up the CAS number so I easily can find suppliers.”

Dr Daan van Es from Wageningen Food and Biobased Research adds that “the filtering functions on SciFinder are superior to other databases. The combination of structure searches and certain other limits/properties, such as commercial availability is extremely useful.”

SciFinder-n allows researchers to search for reactions involving specific reactants or products, analyse reaction mechanisms, and compare different reaction pathways. This helps to understand chemical reactions and their mechanisms.

Daan van Es thinks that SciFinder is very well suited for bibliographic searches, including patents, “especially for researching some vaguer topics for which you don’t have a good structure description, Scifinder-n gives good search results”. He adds: “Both Reaxys and Scifinder are also widely used to search for commercially available chemicals. Scifinder also provides all kinds of other information, such as links to toxicity and degradability. We also use SciFinder a lot for patent-related research: novelty, but also freedom to operate.”

Students can also use SciFinder-n to explore the structures and properties of various organic molecules, study reaction mechanisms, and learn about the synthesis of complex molecules.

Does SciFinder-n has any drawbacks?

Corrie Snijder explains that “while SciFinder is known for its user-friendly interface, the platform does have various advanced search features. Users new to the platform might need some time to familiarize themselves with these features”.

Dieuwertje Streefkerk adds: “When searching for reactions (i.e. via the draw tool), you need the right level of specificity. Too specific and you won't find anything, too broad and you get too many results. It takes practice and insight to get the best out of the programme.”

Corrie points out the specialized focus: ”SciFinder is designed specifically for researchers in the fields of chemistry and related sciences. While it is highly valuable for those working in these domains, researchers from other disciplines may find it less relevant.”

How do I learn how to search in SciFinder-n?

As our users explained, SciFinder-n is user-friendly but you need to be familiar with the database to get the best results. You can search in many different ways, using queries and substance numbers or even drawing substances.

Dieuwertje Streefkerk mentions that “for bachelor and master students, the main search functions in SciFinder are easy to grasp. The drawing tool is a bit more complicated to learn.“

Corrie Snijder confirms that mastering the fundamental functionalities is straightforward. She rarely receives requests for help. To get started with SciFinder-n, she recommends checking the Library’s e-learning module and the training material that is provided by CAS. In case of any further questions, she's happy to help you!

How can I access SciFinder-n?

Scifinder-n is available to WUR staff and students on-campus through WURnet or Eduroam, off-campus through VPN. First time users need to create an account with their WUR-email address. To create an account follow these links:

For Wageningen University staff and students: Create an account through

For Wageningen Research staff: Request an account at the Library through