6.19 Searchable Databases
The proliferation of databases and the number of compounds that they contain has made the interpretation of spectra a much less daunting task. These databases cover over 200,000 compounds, the two most commonly used databases are the one produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) along with the Wiley Registry of Mass Spectral Data. Using these databases can be of great assistance when performing routine analysis and sometimes are the only way to positively identify a particular compound.
These databases cannot be the exclusive tool that chemists rely on to interpret data. Like other tools, it is necessary to know when and how to use it. Databases are a perfect tool for performing routine analysis when the analyte and the reference standard have a high percent match. When the quality of the match becomes low, it is necessary to access the validity of the database match. It is also necessary to understand these fractionation patterns when performing research especially when synthesizing new compounds that are not contained in the published databases, and for which there is obviously no reference compound. Only the combination of manual interpretation along with the usage of a library can the composition of an unknown sample truly be discerned.