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Finding a method of synthesis

Using Reaxys

Using SciFinder

Chemistry Research Guide

Finding a Method of Synthesis

Finding a preparation or synthesis method is a central task in organic chemistry. For simple, common chemicals, numerous synthesis methods have already been discovered. You wouldn’t want to spend costly time in the lab developing a new method until you knew what was already out there. The good news is that there are some really great tools for this task.

The sources in this section cite scholarly journal articles about methods of preparation (also known as synthesis) of your compound. You need to locate the article itself to learn about the method of synthesis. The NCSU Libraries will have most of the journal articles you need to refer to. The steps below outline the process of finding these journals.

Using Reaxys to locate a synthesis reference

Reaxys is a recommended database for finding synthesis references.

First, search for your compound in the Ask Reaxys box. Use the CAS Registry Number for searching if you have it.

In the search results, you will see a column of data related to preparation methods. Reaxys will report the number of preparations found out of the total number of reactions.

Preparation sources in Reaxys

Click on the number of preparations to obtain a list of reactions in which your chemical was a product (in other words, it was synthesized using the reaction). For each reaction, Reaxys provides a reaction diagram and references to the journal articles in which the reactions are described.

Click on the "Full Text" link to access the article. If you are unable to access the article using this link (e.g., you get a login screen or error message), note the citation (author, journal title, year, volume, pages) and search the library's journal list for the issue you need. Feel free to ask a librarian for help locating the article.

Tip: Older methods might be easier to work with.

  • Since the lab assignment requires ANY synthesis method (not necessarily the latest method, or one involving a particular reagent), you can scan through the results to find one that will be a little easier to work with. Sort the list by Publication Year and click on the "up" arrow to put older articles at the top. Older articles may describe the method in a more straightforward manner. Obviously the older the method, the greater the chance the method will have been superceded -- but you don't need to worry about that for this assignment. You can also avoid non-English articles for the purposes of this assignment.

Tip: You may need to look through a few different articles before you find one that is clear.

  • You may find articles where the methodology used is not clear for one specific chemical. For example, the synthesis method could be for a general class of chemicals. Depending on the nature of your research, this could be fine or you may want to look for alternate articles that are easier to follow.

Other possible sources

Librarian Contact Information

  • Karen Ciccone, Director Natural Resources Library & Research Librarian for Science Informatics
  • 515-3513