Finding Chemical Information – Royal Society of Chemistry seminar
Writing about web page http://www.rsc.org/Membership/Networking/InterestGroups/CICAG/meetings.asp
Yesterday I found myself at the Royal Society of Chemistry at a seminar on Finding Chemical Information. (My manager had planned to go but something came up at the last minute and I went in her place).
There were 7 presentations, and 30 atendees so I will make no attempt to cover any detail of the content here, but there were some basic principles which were very useful and the day made me wonder if there are additional services we could offer from the Library to support Chemists at Warwick.
The basic idea behind the course was that often Chemists are looking for specific quantitative information on a given chemical (boiling point, mass, etc) or perhaps information on reactions which create this chemical, or industrial uses for it, or processes which require it. (The focus was not on searching for bibliographic information). The chemical you are looking for may be one that has many different names registered with many different companies and may therefore be difficult to track down. Or it may be easy to find information from one country, but the same chemical may be marketed under a different name in another part of the world, where it is used in a different way, and so on.
To make it extra difficult, there are various options for searching for chemicals in other ways, such as by typing a chemical formula into a search, but there is no real standardised method for putting the formulas together, especially for complex molecules, or newly created chemicals, so you may still be missing synonyms (sic) in your search.
So, what can we do to find the information?
The idea discussed at yesterdays seminar was using the chemical structure itself as a search term. There are packages available which allow you to draw the chemical structure of a substance and then search for that structure in a database of chemical information. In the collection of resources being discussed the results from the structure search would then give you a registry number for the chemical which can then be used as a search term across a number of other chemical information databases (including some bibliographic services).
Warwick does subscribe to some of the services discussed, but they are not tools I have used or ever been asked about by our users. I do think this could be a useful skill to have and to promote to the department once we have conquered it. I have a meeting coming up with the Science Team leader to discuss possibilities.
Does anyone receive and deal with this type of chemical query?
What software do you use?
How easy or complex do you find it?