By James Ashenhurst

Introducing the Reaction Guide

Last updated: July 7th, 2023 |

My main goal at Master Organic Chemistry has always been to provide students with useful resources that they can’t easily find anywhere else. About six months after I started tutoring organic chemistry, I realized that a lot of students had trouble keeping track of all the reagents in organic chemistry, and were looking for a resource that collected all of them together. So I built the Reagent Guide to help with that.

After launching the Reagent Guide, I started looking around for another big problem that students had with studying for organic chemistry. One evening one of my students preparing for the ACS Org 2 final sent me a list of over 130 reactions that her instructor had prepared that all the students were expected to know, and she clearly found it very daunting. So I thought it would make sense to try to come up with a big encyclopedia of common reactions in introductory organic chemistry, complete with descriptions, examples, and full mechanisms. It was also clear that there was too much material for a PDF, and it would have to “live” on my site in some way.

I started working on the Reaction Guide about a year ago. By Christmas there were around 150 reactions up, although the page itself was terribly organized. And there it was left in that condition for the next several months. I told members of my mailing list about it and used it for my tutoring students, but never really tried to attract much attention to it, because it was “unfinished”.

Finally, about a month ago it was time to organize the Guide in a better format and also to include some of the missing components. The total number of reactions covered is now over 170. Every page has a main example, along with extra examples showing subtle variations in conditions, and also an arrow-by-arrow walkthrough of the mechanism [some reactions, like the Clemmensen, don’t have this since the mechanism is a bit mysterious]. There are also videos for some of the examples [some people might recognize these from Reaction Friday].

So today I’m happy to “officially” announce the arrival of the Reaction Guide. I don’t know of any other resource out there that’s similar to it in purpose, scope, and depth. Unfortunately for those who have been accessing it for free for the past year, this must come to an end. MOC is a passion for me, but also a business, and I cannot justify giving away for free something which I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of my time on. So you’ll see some links to sign up for a “Membership” – that’s a signup for monthly access to the Reaction Guide. The main blog content, of course, remains free.

As always, I hope that you find the resources on Master Organic Chemistry valuable and useful, and feel free to yell at me with any constructive criticism.


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