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Reaxys: Then & Now
Posted on October 30th, 2015 by Thibault Geoui in Chemistry
Reaxys, an online chemistry research solution from Reed Elsevier Properties SA, improves R&D productivity by delivering experimental facts on chemical structures, properties, reactions and procedures. It’s been around since 2009, but what came before it directly shaped what Reaxys was, what it is today and what it will be in the future. Discover the history of Reaxys.
Ask any chemist educated in the 20th century about Gmelin or Beilstein and they will tell you of hours spent thumbing through book volumes of chemical substances and data. Together, those handbooks were preeminent repositories for all known chemistry data. But they didn’t just include random information; each handbook evaluated the data and organized it into strict, chemically logical groupings. Students and professionals could rely on the data, knowing that it was relevant and structured for easier discovery.
With the advent of the Internet and World Wide Web in the late 20th century, the data that was previously recorded in those handbooks was digitized, making its way into structured, searchable electronic databases. Search functionality was limited, which made it cumbersome to scan the content without clearly defined search queries.
With improvements in computing, new tools and functionality became available to programmers and a new system, CrossFire, was designed which allowed for users to query both the Gmelin and Beilstein databases, without having to depend on an information specialist to run their searches. Improvement in search capability also reduced the time it took to retrieve results from minutes to seconds. Plus, a vast array of hyperlinks within the data gave users ‘point and click’ access to additional, relevant information.
Continued technological advances, and the need for an improved interface and decreased time lag between published data and its availability to researchers, led to the creation of Reaxys. Launched in 2009, Reaxys merged the three CrossFire databases into one, covering organic, inorganic and organometallic data from journal and patent literature, and made the data accessible via a more user-friendly interface. Reaxys allowed users to access a web-based database, providing crucial data wherever chemists needed it, rather than having the data trapped on a desktop workstation. Additionally, with Reaxys’ biweekly updates (vs. quarterly updates in CrossFire), published data entered a chemist’s workflow much more rapidly than ever before.
Since Reaxys’ inception, even more advances have taken shape. From expanded content and coverage for a broader, more interdisciplinary search; to improved indexing and taxonomies for improved search and increased result relevancy; to heatmaps so chemists can more easily visualize data; to interoperability components that allow researchers in other disciplines to seamlessly access and incorporate chemistry data, Reaxys is focused on meeting its users’ needs and bringing answers to their chemistry-related questions.
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