Google has launched another piece of its growing search toolbox, Dataset Search. Its aim is to help researchers locate openly available datasets - either that they already know about or don't - using metadata tags applied by the data's creators. (Google does not index the contents of the datasets.) It will complement widely used tools such as Google Scholar (which indexes articles and patents) and Google Books. Read more about it in Nature.
The primary research funding agencies in 11 European countries have announced an ambitious plan to require all researchers to publish only in fully open-access journals, starting in 2020. This means that authors would not be allowed to publish their findings in many of the world's leading scientific journals, most of which still charge lofty fees for subscription access. Dubbed "Plan S," it includes funders from the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Italy, and several others, but so far not Germany, Switzerland, or Sweden. Other countries and the EU have expressed support and may join the plan soon, however. Publishers, predictably, are alarmed by the short-term effects this change, if carried out and enforced, would have on their business models. Read more about it in Science and Nature (both of which would be banned under the plan).
Next year the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society will celebrate its 140th year of continuous publication. Since 1879 it has evolved from a slim record of the fledgling society's meetings and papers to one of the premier journals in the field. UT Austin chemistry professor Allen Bard served as editor-in-chief of JACS from 1982 to 2001. ACS has created a JACS Timeline sight that presents highlights from the long history of this eminent title.
A startup called Impactstory has been gaining traction with its Unpaywall plugin tool, which surfaces nearly 20 million freely (and legally) available versions of published papers located in many repositories around the world. This provides researchers with easy access to papers they may not otherwise get to see because of publisher paywall restrictions. Web of Science recently incorporated Unpaywall functionality into its database, exposing many more paths to access than previously existed, and other databases are following suit. Read more about it this Nature article.
If you think there just aren't enough journals to keep track of, ACS has your back. In 2018 they have launched three new titles under their ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces umbrella: ACS Applied Energy Materials, and ACS Applied Nano Materials, and ACS Applied Bio Materials. In addition, there's also a fourth new title, ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science. ACS now has more than 60 journals in its rapidly growing publishing portfolio.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued patent number 10 million on June 19, 2018. In commemoration of this major milestone, the USPTO has created a new web site documenting the timeline of the Patent Office's history since 1790 and the design of patent documents to the present day.
[rev. Jun 28, 2018]
Springer-Nature, one of the world's largest commercial scientific publishers, was forced this week to postpone its IPO on the German stock market due to weak demand. (Springer, a storied German publishing house, merged with UK-based Nature Publishing Group and Macmillan in 2015. It is currently co-owned by a German publishing company and a private equity firm.) The IPO prospectus revealed strategies that the publisher no doubt would have preferred its authors, editors, and customers not to know. Namely, how the company intentionally leverages the power of its brand to charge libraries premium prices, with high annual inflation, and siphon off the "best" research from other publishers, while remaining resolutely paywalled. Expansion of the Nature journal portfolio clearly demonstrates this tactic. A recently announced new journal, Nature Machine Intelligence, seeks to push into a field where Nature has had little presence so far, prompting threats of a boycott from researchers in the field. The IPO prospectus also reveals that charging authors higher processing fees (APCs) for making articles open in its highest-impact journals adds a revenue stream (from research grants) that does not "cannibalize" the lofty subscription fees borne by libraries - a clear case of double dipping.
From the prospectus (p.59):
"Springer Nature was one of the first academic publishers to actively embrace the opportunities offered by open access, which provides us additional opportunities to generate revenues, as open access publications are funded by authors and/or their funders or the relevant research institutions, not libraries. Accordingly, revenues stemming from APCs are in the short- to medium-term supplementary to the subscription business, not cannibalistic. Some of our journals are among the open access journals with the highest impact factor, providing us with the ability to charge higher APCs for these journals than for journals with average impact factors."
[May 10, 2018]
Chemical & Engineering News has published a podcast interview with several researchers and editors discussing the new ChemRXiv preprint server, which launched in 2017 under the auspices of ACS, RSC, and GDCh. While electronic preprints have thrived in physics for decades, and more recently in biosciences (see BioRXiv), they have faced greater headwinds in chemistry, where the culture of traditional peer review is virtually sacrosanct. The podcast explores some of the dilemmas facing chemists as they consider a balance between conventional publication and faster, more open options. The critical factors of priority and intellectual property are also in play. Paraphrasing an editor from Science, it comes down to what's more important: being first, or being careful? This dilemma is visible in the varying editorial policies of journals, which reflect the discipline's level of comfort with change. For example, JACS, the flagship journal of ACS, refuses to consider submissions that have appeared as preprints - including those on a platform that ACS helped to establish, and that irony is not lost on observers. (Most other ACS journals apart from Organic Letters do allow them.)
ChemRXiv does not disclose how many preprints have been deposited on its site. (SciFinder has indexed about 300 of them so far.) The site has generated 73,000 downloads after a year of operation - a relatively tiny number given the size of chemistry and its literature. So far, not many authors are taking the leap into preprints, and not many readers are looking at them. These numbers imply that the key questions have yet to be answered, and that it will take some time before a preprint culture takes hold in chemistry - if it ever does.
[4/30/18; rev. 9/10/18]
The libraries have been able to purchase several additional Wiley online journal archives back to their first volumes. Titles related to chemistry include:
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