Report:PatBase/Search Interface/The Search Forms/Chemical Search Form
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Chemical Search Form
In 2009, PatBase introduced a chemical synonym search and accompanying chemical name thesaurus. This feature will pull up related trade names and chemical names based on initial input. It is intended to help users expand their search strategies through identifying synonyms and name variants related to the chemical compound they are interested in. According to a PatBase representative, the chemical information present in the tool is from the National Library of Medicine database ChemIDplus.
When using the tool, users enter a chemical name into the search box. An auto-suggest function will suggest chemical names as the user is typing, to show users possible name options present in the database index, and to prevent misspellings.
The results of a search from this interface are being pulled from the ChemIDplus database, and may contain a chemical structure description, various official names and ID numbers for the compound of interest, and possible synonyms or alternatives to these names. A chemical structure drawing no longer seems to be included in the the search results (see Editor's Note below), but users can now view chemical structure drawings from the full text of documents with the Chemicalize tool, which "identifies chemical names in the Full Text and converts them to chemical structures." More information on the Chemicalize tool can be found in the "Viewing Latin Text Records" section of the report.
No chemical structure drawings within the search results were found during test searches, but a PatBase representative confirms that some drawings are still available. Since the information in the chemical search results is retrieved from ChemIPplus, a change must have occurred within this external database that has made the chemical structures irretrievable (in most cases) on PatBase. According to a PatBase representative, ChemIDplus has made the structures within the database 3D, which requires a Java plug-in for viewing. This may be a possible reason that the structures can no longer be displayed in PatBase.
Users can select the term or terms of interest from the results provided by the thesaurus, and they will be automatically placed into a PatBase search query. The screenshot below shows the results of an example search; checkboxes are used to select the variants of further interest to the user.
Before the search is executed, PatBase will display the search string in a text window, and will allow users to make any desired edits/changes to the selected chemical names. Users should remember to disable the option "Use symbols: + - , as boolean operators" within the display options before utilizing the chemical search form, or they will receive this error message when viewing the search string for their chemical search query: "The search will not run properly. Please change your settings and uncheck 'Use symbols: + - , as boolean operators.'" The search terms in the query are automatically separated by OR, so the (+/-) operator function must be disabled for the query to be interpreted correctly by the system.
Help documentation for the tool is provided below the search boxes to pass along basic instructions and examples to novice users. Users can access this search guide by selecting the link "Guide to Chemical Synonym Search," located beside the "i" icon below the search form.
This tool might be especially useful to searchers who don't normally need to search chemical compounds, but are venturing into slightly new territory. However, some chemical knowledge is needed to make appropriate selections from the list of official names and variants - in the example given above, the elemental symbol for sodium, Na, is given as an official name. This is possibly because the compound is a salt and the Na+ ion is present; however, this term would be much too broad to include in the list of synonyms of its own.
By showing the selected terms in a search string format to the user for editing before the search is executed, PatBase has ensured that this implementation of the feature is as convenient as possible. The ability to make changes to the selected chemical terms, as well as to add other search terms to the string before executing the search, makes this tool even more versatile. The inability of this search form to function correctly if the (+/-) operator function is enabled is a small nuisance that may initially confuse new users.