SORD (Selected Organic Reactions Database) - FAQs


Who or what is SORD?

SORD is a privately-owned Dutch company with limited liability (“B.V.”), founded in 2005 and fully operational since September 2008. The management of SORD consists of 4 organic chemists with considerable experience in information and business environments. SORD is currently financed by 3 private investors.

The Mission Statement of SORD:

A. SORD provides synthetic and process development chemists with easy access to new, reliable and relevant chemical information by converting inaccessible but validated chemical information into a state-of-the-art digital (“machine readable”) format.

B. SORD provides free access to its database for Academic researchers who make their information available to SORD.

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Where does SORD get this new chemical information? 

In the last 50 years, more than 50 million chemical reactions have been performed successfully in academic research. Yet only 10 million of these reactions can be accessed by SciFinder or Reaxys, the two major commercial chemical reaction databases. Around half of the remaining 40 million reactions remain documented in Theses and Dissertations in universities all over the world, a rich source of lost yet validated chemical reaction on dusty library shelves. The Selected Organic Reactions Database (SOR Database) captures this “lost chemistry” and processes the chemical reaction data into customer-designed machine-readable format.

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So what makes SORD so special?

The SOR Database by design has four significant advantages compared to reaction databases from other vendors:

  • Full synthetic information for each chemical reaction, together with complete reaction product data, in each entry. For non-English language manuscripts there are translations of the large amounts of work
  • Previously unpublished data not found in SciFinder or Reaxys
  • Relevance to the synthetic and process chemist requirements by careful selection of chemical reaction data
  • Data-minable format 

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What does SORD want to achieve?

Our ambition is to see the SOR Database become one of the preferred tools for researchers in the pharmaceutical industry. At the same time, we see SOR Database as becoming a valuable information resource for participating Academics who will enjoy free access to the SOR Database.

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What is the SORD business model?

SORD revenues come from Life Science Research companies who realize the value and uniqueness of the chemistry the SOR Database contains. SORD provides to Academics, who supply theses to SORD, free access to the SOR Database.

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How big is the SOR Database?
The current SOR Database (November 2011) contains 125,000 reactions. The goal is 1 million reactions at the end of 2013.

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What are the benefits for the Academic Institutions who provide SORD with chemical information?

For Academic institutions who provide SORD with Theses and Dissertations, there is no charge to access the data in the complete SOR Database. Using a web-based interface, Academics can then perform text and (sub)structure searches to access the reaction data contained in the SOR Database.

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What are the benefits for the leaders of academic research groups?

For the larger contributors of reaction data, the leaders of large research groups, a data-minable version of their data in the SOR Database can be made accessible, also free of charge. This local SOR Database will provide researchers with instant access to the large legacy of all the chemical data ever performed in the group. The data-minable fields include reaction yield, solvents and reagents employed, MP, optical rotations, etc.

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Can these local SOR Databases be grouped?

It is quite likely that some leaders of large research groups will want to share their data. In this case, SORD will provide a platform where these grouped local databases are made accessible to the participants. The costs for providing and maintaining this platform will be shared between the participants. The exact terms will be those agreed on between the participants and SORD.

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How does SORD handle hard-copy Theses and Dissertations?

For the theses that are only available in hard-copy format, SORD has an agreement with Bibliosafe ( who scan the contents using state-of-the-art technology. SORD also makes use of their secure logistics services so there are no risks. The maximum away-time for a thesis is around 4 weeks. For every Thesis or Dissertation processed by SORD, a PDF file is provided to the University free of charge. The PDF files can be placed on local servers to make access to the theses easier.

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Does this not mean a lot of extra work for me?

No. All you have to do is to decide which Theses and Dissertations will be made available to SORD. We take care of the rest. To contact the authors for their permission, we do need contact data and this may be protected by a privacy policy. SORD produces an Author Permission form that should be sent to each author by the Department. When necessary, SORD pays someone (mostly a student) to perform such tasks so you do not have to worry about this.

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What are the benefits for the authors of the theses?

Proper recognition for their work on a permanent basis is one of these important benefits. In each SOR Database reaction record, the full bibliographic and searchable information (author, supervisor, institution, address, date) is provided. Users of the SOR Database can then easily contact the author or research supervisor. The SOR Database will also be cited by chemists who make use of the record(s) extracted there.

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What is the position of SORD on Intellectual Property (IP)?

ORD requires and requests author permission for each Thesis or Dissertation it processes and makes a best effort to trace the authors for this purpose. In the event that the author cannot be traced, SORD reserves the option to enter the data in the SOR Database and to remove it later should the author insist.

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SORD may be free to academics now but what about the future?

SORD is made possible by the goodwill from Academics. This means making the database available to them free of charge in return for their collaboration. SORD is privately owned and, should this change, maintaining the goodwill from Academics will remain essential for the operation of SORD. In other words, the SOR Database will be free of charge for Academics for all time.

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If I provide SORD with chemical information, is there not a risk that publishers will reject a paper that I submit?

We are fully aware of the need for Academic researchers to publish their work in journals. We are also fully aware of the conditions demanded by some publishers. That is why we advise academic researchers to provide us with their data only when they are sure that future publications are not endangered. Please note that Theses and Dissertations available on the Internet are already in the Public Domain.

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If I provide SORD with chemical information, then people could steal my ideas – right?

No. What you provide SORD in the form of chemical information is what has been published in a thesis and which everyone can read. What you provide to SORD is what you feel comfortable about – the choice is yours.