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This Is Auburn Auburn University Libraries LibGuides

CHEM 3000: Indexes & Abstracts


Due:  Finding Journal Articles

No new assignments.

Indexing -- Use of controlled vocabulary

An index helps retrieve information from a database or book.

Many indexes use "controlled vocabulary" to improve information retrieval. In a "controlled vocabulary" index only approved terms and phases are used to describe objects (e.g., articles). 

For example ...

ethanol, ethyl alcohol, alcohol, ethyl hydrate, methylcarbinol, 64-17-5, and NSC 85228 all describe the same concept.

In the absence of "controlled vocabulary" one would need to search on all these terms (and maybe more) to retrieve all articles that are about the concept of ethanol. In a "controlled vocabulary" index, once the correct term is identified and searched, then (in theory) all articles about the concept of ethanol should be found.

This assumes ...

that the indexer(s) consistenly applied the correct "controlled vocabulary"

that the article has been indexed (inevitably there is a time lag)

In Chemical Abstracts (SciFinder) the official term is currently "ethanol". As recently as 1972, the official term was ethyl alcohol. Many online databases automatically link synonyms to the official term to make searching easier. SciFinder does this for a few terms and for all substances (but it is best to use the official term).

Examples of "controlled vocabulary" indexes

Chemical Abstracts => The most important chemistry database

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) => Used by PubMed (aka MEDLINE) for medical information 

Library of Congress Subject Headings => Used by library catalogs

SciFinder -- Getting started

Use this link to create your personal SciFinder account

You must register from an on-campus computer.

Complete registration by following the instructions sent to your auburn email address.


Password must have …

A capital letter

A lower case letter

A number

A symbol such as * or #

At least 8 characters


Once registered, off-campus you need to login via the SciFinder login link but from on-campus you can go to and choose SciFinder.

The Chemistry Subject Guide prominently offers this link. This is a good link to bookmark.