Over the past 48 hours there has been an interesting discussion on CHMINF. The discussion was around how to teach a large class of students to learn about literature searching, about structure searching, property searching etc. The tools are out there to perform such searches and to facilitate students learning about the types of resources they will need to access if and when they enter industry. The premise of the exchange was that some of the gold standard resources, while excellent, are commonly not affordable at the level necessary to train large classes of students. Below is a posting I placed back onto CHMINF. My question to you readers is as follows “Is there an academic who would like to work with me on a Lesson Plan involving ChemSpider?“. If so…contact me please.

The exchange…the > indicates the comments made by one of the commentators to the original post and I used it as the basis for my own feedback.


I wonder whether or not it might be possible to use the ChemSpider service as one of the resources for the classes? For example, relative to some of the comments made below it is possible to perform the majority of searches at www.chemspider.com – this includes structure searches, property searches,name searches as well as LITERATURE searches of open Access articles. See details below…

>1. Ability to use a chemical drawing program to insert chemical drawing in a lab report.

AJW> On ChemSpider …refer to http://www.chemspider.com/news/?p=39

2. Ability to identify a compound by multiple methods, such as CAS registry number, IUPAC or CAS index name, common name.

AJW> For searching by numeric identifiers, systematic names or common names use the search page at http://www.chemspider.com/Search.aspx
and review the comments made at http://www.chemspider.com/news/?p=29 and http://www.chemspider.com/news/?p=23

>3. Ability to locate basic property information on a given compound in standard sources such as CRC Handbook, Lange’s, Merck, Dictionary of Organic Compounds, MSDS (whatever basic reference tools you have).

>AJW> I am not suggesting that ChemSpider is a reference tool as yet…but in terms of searching on basic property information use the Advanced Search at http://www.chemspider.com/Search.aspx?t=adv

Select the appropriate check box to perform searches by structure and substructure, via intrinsic properties, predicted properties, identifiers and data source. The nice thing about this approach is that the students will find the linkages into reference sources such as the NIST webbook, PubChem, Wikipedia and other rich sources of information

>4. Ability to locate 3-5 articles about a topic related to a specific compound.

>AJW> Use the ability to search on >50,000 Open access chemistry articles bytext. We are presently adding another 60,000 open access articles. Perform the search here:


For example, search for dithiazoles and get this results set:

>5. Ability to identify the parts of a research paper and to summarize the relevance of the paper.
>6. Ability to cite articles using a standard citation style, such a ACS.

>… An assignment might be to locate information (defined by you and the lab director) about an organic compound of interest to them – why the molecule is of interest to them, some basic properties, locate 3 current articles on the compound – summarize relevance of one article in 2-3 sentences, cite all three articles according to a preferred style.

>It’s tempting to throw every possible nuance into such an assignment, but I’d stick to basics: compounds have names and properties, and you can find current literature about compounds by searching relevant article databases.

>AJW> And bring it all together using a system like ChemSpider…and I should think a PubChem and Pubmed combination would do the same, you would be able to interrogate structures, articles, properties and even spectra (scroll to the bottom of http://www.chemspider.com/RecordView.aspx?id=5557 to see an example of spectra…more examples will show up shortly).

I am VERY interested in working with someone, hopefully from this list, to potential develop a lesson plan that could be posted on ChemSpider for others to use as a skeleton to build on. If anyone has an interest in doing this please contact me directly. Thanks

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