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Reaxys News

New Reaxys

A new, redesigned Reaxys interface is now available for testing. Please see the Support Center for documentation, FAQs and access to training webinars.  The FAQ here are based on the old interface and will be updated in the coming months.

Consider attending other free Reaxys Webinars to expand your search skills. Live webinars are archived for later viewing.

The new date for the retirement of the old Reaxys interface is November 30, 2017.

Using Reaxys

What is Reaxys?

Reaxys provides information about millions of chemical structures, reactions, and properties. It is an important tool for researchers who are synthesizing and characterizing chemical compounds, or searching for data on the physical, chemical, spectral, or toxicological properties of chemical substances.

What are the sources of Reaxys content?

Reaxys merges content from various data sources:
1. Current Extraction from Selected Core Journals
Until 2010 about 175 journals were manually indexed for Beilstein and about 60 for Gmelin, though update frequency varied considerably. After 2010 journal coverage grew towards 425 core chemistry titles for both segments combined. (The increase was not retrospective, and a list of these titles is not publicly available.) Coverage within a journal is highly selective. Data are only excerpted if they have a structure, experimental fact(s) and a credible citation.

Beginning in 2016, Reaxys expanded machine-excerption of chemical data from the full text of up to 15,000 journals that are covered by various Elsevier indexing products (Scopus, Embase, Compendex, etc.). This coverage will be extended retroactively back to the earliest fully-digital articles available, according to the company.

2. Beilstein Handbook
The Beilstein Handbook up to 1959 (Supplement IV) was the core source of historical content for organic compounds and reactions. Beilstein was a definitive source of information on the structures, reactions, and properties of organic carbon compounds, drawn from the journal literature back to the 18th century. (Due to licensing issues, the "Beilstein" name isn't used anywhere within Reaxys.)
3. Gmelin
The Gmelin Handbook up to 1975 was the historical source of structures and properties of inorganic and metal-organic compounds, drawn from the journal and patent literature back to the early 19th century. After 1975, information was extracted from a small group of selected journals with varying degrees of thoroughness and timeliness. Gmelin's coverage of the literature was always uneven and not comprehensive.
4. Patent Chemistry Database
Organic substances and reactions are excerpted from selected English-language chemical patents (US, WO, EP, 1976- ). In 2016 this coverage was expanded to include Asian and other worldwide patent agencies.

What is the patent coverage in Reaxys?

The Beilstein Handbook included selected worldwide organic chemical patents from about 1920 to 1980. Gmelin also covered chemical patents. The Patent Chemistry Database covers selected English-language chemical patents (US, WO, EP) since 1976, based on a subset of IPC codes. In 2016 this coverage expanded to include Asian and other worldwide patents. Prefer SciFinder (Chemical Abstracts) for more complete chemical patent coverage.  More information

What kinds of substances are in Reaxys?

Chemical compounds with defined structures and/or molecular formulas are covered. In general, polymers, biological molecules (peptides, proteins, nucleic acids, enzymes, etc.), engineered materials (ceramics, alloys, etc.), and multicomponent mixtures are not included in the core substance-based segment of Reaxys.


How quickly are new documents indexed?

According to the producer, manually indexed core journal articles and patents are added after about 10-14 days; machine-indexed articles take less time, only a few days.


Are property data in Reaxys critically evaluated?

Generally not. Some data derived from the print Handbooks were originally assessed for consistency, but more recent data excerpted directly from the literature are not. And since there's no way to tell the difference, you have to assume it's not. (Data taken from patents should be viewed with particular skepticism.) All excerpted data are experimental, however - not derived or calculated.


Does Reaxys contain spectra?

Reaxys contains plentiful spectral data (peaks, solvents, etc.) on chemical compounds as reported in the primary literature, but no spectral graphs. You can use the form-based search (Query Builder in New Reaxys) to specify spectroscopic data with various parameters. More information

What is the Ask Reaxys search box?

This feature is analogous to SciFinder's topic search box. It parses your terms and attempts to find the most relevant hits. It works fine for some very straightforward searches, such as "preparation of 12078-17-0" where the algorithm can make a relational match between a concept and an unambiguous substance identifier. But it is still being developed and doesn't always get it right. When you use it for non-chemical concept searches it'll drop you into the Literature search, or into external substance files like PubChem. The search forms are still a more reliable entry point into the core database of substances and reactions.


Can I search by CAS Registry Numbers?

Yes, but don't give up if it doesn't get a hit. Beilstein substance records created prior to 1994 ususally contain RNs as chemical identifiers. Some substance records added since 1994 do not. Many older Gmelin inorganic substance records do not contain CAS RNs. CAS RNs should not be confused with Reaxys registry numbers, which are accession numbers within this database alone. A single substance record in Reaxys may contain several CAS RNs because the two systems use different registration rules. CAS assigns RNs to structures more narrowly than Reaxys.


Can I search by Chemical Names?

Yes, but this is the least reliable kind of search. Reaxys indexes various synonyms for compounds, but don't rely solely on name string searching. Some names are shown only in German. CAS Registry Numbers and exact structures are better starting points. You can also generate a structure from a name, which you can then edit for further searching.


Can I search by molecular formulas?

Use the Formula Builder tool to create a query with proper syntax. This is especially useful for inorganic and organometallic/coordination compound searching, and for building queries with variable element counts, shortcuts (Me, Et, Ph), and periodic groups. A similar Alloy tool lets you create MF searches specifying component percentages. (The Alloy tool is not present in the new interface.)


Can I search by an old printed Beilstein or Gmelin reference?

No, you have to look up the actual compound. Some handbooks, such as the Aldrich Catalog, still list Beilstein volume/page references (e.g. "Beil. 13, III, 2311"), but Reaxys does not include these at all. Some inorganic substance data tables do provide the corresponding Gmelin Handbook reference alongside the source journal reference, but the Gmelin reference itself is not searchable.


What's the easiest way to find a property data value for a known compound?

  1. Select the "Names and Formulas" tab. (In New Reaxys, select Query Builder and click the CAS RN button.)

  2. Enter the CAS Registry Number in the CAS RN box. (If the RN is in the Reaxys index you'll see it in the pull-down list as you type.) Click OK, then click Search on the next form. (If you don't have the CAS RN, or if you get no hits, do a search by structure, molecular formula, or chemical name.)

  3. In the entry for the matching compound, click "Show Details" or the appropriate link under "Available Data".

  4. Open the desired data category to view the data table.


Can I search by property values?

Yes, but it can get complicated. Under the Names and Formulas tab, click on the Properties button and select property fields and enter values, which will then appear in search syntax form in the query box. Due to the huge number of property values in the database, this technique is most useful in conjunction with a substructure search, and if you enter a range of values for a property it's best to keep that range narrow to avoid large results sets. You can also use the "exists" operator to limit to substances that contain a particular field without having to enter values for that field. Remember also that a substance record might contain many values for a given property in a table, based on different conditions, and from different sources. To ensure that queried subfields are found in the same row of a data table, use the Proximity operator in the Advanced tab instead of the And operator. Example syntax: BP.BP='69-72' PROXIMITY BP.P='760'


What does the Literature Search do?

This tab allows you to search across a bibliographic database that includes the source articles and patents for Reaxys chemical information (structures, reactions, properties), as well as about 16,000 other periodical sources that were added from various Elsevier bibliographic files (Scopus, Embase, Compendex, etc.) more recently. These additional sources are not necessarily chemical in nature, and previously were not analyzed for chemical data and content in the way that the "core" journals were.

The "basic index" field searches for words found in titles, abstracts, and indexing terms. You can also use the form to search for author names, patent assignees, journal titles, and numeric fields like year, volume and page numbers.

Despite recent claims, Reaxys is not a comprehensive literature index in the way that SciFinder is: if you need to do a general topical/keyword literature search on chemical topics, it's better to use SciFinder.

Should I search in SciFinder or Reaxys?

Use both, especially when trying to determine if a specific molecule has been reported. SciFinder and Reaxys are complementary resources, and although both are ultimately based on the primary literature, they are quite different in the ways they scan and index the literature, the ways they register compounds and index reactions, and in the time periods they cover.


Reaxys is valuable for obtaining preparation/reaction methods and physico-chemical data for pure compounds, and especially for its thorough coverage of pre-1960 organic literature. Since its modern journal coverage is more selective than SciFinder's, search results are usually more manageable.

SciFinder excels with its wider and deeper coverage of literature and patents from ca. 1965 forward, its comprehensive registration of all types of chemical compounds, polymers, and mixtures, and its more thorough coverage of organic reactions after 1985. Results can be voluminous because of the sheer number of references, so it's important to do focused searches and use the refining and analysis tools.


Is there any reason to consult the printed Beilstein or Gmelin handbooks anymore?

The Reaxys database does not duplicate the Handbooks. Pertinent data and references were extracted from the printed works to create the retrospective portion of the electronic database.

The printed Beilstein Handbook entries, while in highly abbreviated German, provided some textual descriptions of synthetic chemistry that are not reflected in the online version. Beilstein Supplement V (Heterocyclics, 1960-79) has only been partially converted. Conversely, there is much information later added to the Beilstein database that was never included in the printed Handbook.  Consulting the print is rarely necessary.

Numeric property data from the print Gmelin Handbook up to 1975 can be found in Reaxys. However, Handbook data from 1976 to 1998 (when it ceased) have not been added. Print Gmelin remains useful because it was more textual and narrative in presentation and provided useful tables and graphs that are not included in Reaxys. It is a good idea to follow up a database search with a look in the corresponding Gmelin volumes.

Because the print and online formats are complementary, the printed Handbooks remain available in the Chemistry Library.


What documentation is available?

The New Reaxys interface has a Support Center page with links to training videos and FAQs and various guides. Reaxys' own training materials and help pages are a good place to start. They offer video tutorials, recorded webinars, and PDF quick guides. There are also various useful academic guides such as Michigan's. Technical specs are available at the Reaxys Training & Support site.

Chemistry Librarian

David Flaxbart's picture
David Flaxbart
Mallet Chemistry Library
University of Texas Libraries
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