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ACS announces new open access journal

The American Chemical Society has announced the launch of its third fully open access journal, titled JACS Au (to be pronounced, they no doubt hope, "JACS Gold").  JACS Au is intended to complement the flagship journal, Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), which will remain a "hybrid" journal publishing both OA and non-OA articles.  ACS' standard author charges will apply to both.  JACS Au will appoint its editorial board this spring and be open for submissions in the summer of 2020.  [See press release]


Russian Journals Riddled with Plagiarism

russia flagAn investigation by the Russian Academy of Science has resulted in the retraction of over 800 articles published in Russian scholarly journals, mostly in STEM fields, due to rampant plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and so-called "gift authorship," the crediting of authors who had nothing to do with the work.  There are over 6000 academic journals published in Russia, in Russian, that are popular with domestic researchers but largely unread elsewhere.  Few of these journals are indexed in Western databases. Various studies have found that republishing one's work is a common practice:  over 70,000 papers were published twice, and some were published as many as 17 times.  There is also significant corruption around selling author slots.    Read more in Science.


Polymer Chemistry at the Century Mark

100 years of polymer science2020 marks the 100th anniversary of polymer chemistry as a specific field of study.  In 1920 German chemist Hermann Staudinger published a landmark paper, "Über Polymerisation" (Chem. Ber., 1920, 53I(6), 1073–1085, DOI 10.1002/cber.19200530627).  Now the RSC journal Polymer Chemistry has published the first English translation of Staudinger's paper.  (DOI 10.1039/C9PY90161B)  Staudinger won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1953 for his pioneering work, which sparked controversy at the time. 


Gender Gap in Chemistry Publishing

RSC logoA large study by the Royal Society of Chemistry has documented a significant gender gap in the publication and citation of articles by women chemists.  The RSC analyzed over 700,000 submissions to their journals over a 4.5 year period and found that while 36% of the authors were women, only 23% of the manuscripts accepted for publication had women corresponding authors.  Even worse, papers by female authors were cited less often in papers by male authors.  Read a summary of the study in Nature.


NLM's TOXNET Retired

NLM logoAs of January 2020 the National Library of Medicine has retired its standalone suite of toxicology databases, known collectively as TOXNET, and folded some of the content into other existing resources.  The TOXLINE literature database is now a subset of PubMed.  HSDB and ChemIDPlus are folded into PubChem.  The Household Products Database and Haz-Map have been retired altogether.  These changes are summarized on the TOXNET Transition page.

[11/4/19; updated 1/7/20]

Goodenough Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

goodenoughCongratulations to Dr. John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering and the Texas Materials Institute, for winning the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking work in the development of lithium-ion batteries.  He shares the prize with M. Stanley Whittingham of SUNY-Binghamton and Akira Yoshino of Japan.  At 97, he is the oldest Nobel recipient ever.  According to Web of Science, Dr. Goodenough has 990 publications, an h-index of 129, and has been cited over 81,000 times.  According to SciFinder, he is listed as an inventor on 26 patents - 14 of them since 2015.  See the University news release profiling his life and work.


Journal Supplements vs Data Repositories

mess of papersFor decades chemists have relegated supporting data into "supplemental information" files that are published alongside a research article.  In the pre-digital days, these may have taken the form of typed documents reproduced on microfiche and placed in libraries.  Structural, spectral, and crystallographic data underlying compounds reported in articles made up the bulk of these supplements, which could be hard to track down.  A few years ago the ACS finally scanned their archive of microfiche files and made them available via the journal web sites.  But are journal supplements the best way to do this?  Static PDFs are fairly useless as a container to store and reuse numeric data.  There's a move afoot to encourage scientists to deposit research data in more permanent, field-specific repositories such as figshare, Dryad, Mendeley, PDB, and others, and end the awkward dependence on static PDFs stored on a publisher's platform.  Read more about this in an article in The Scientist.


Extreme Self-Citation

promoting yourselfAuthors love to be cited.  It's a key part of the recognition and impact that define fruitful careers in science.  But what if 94% of your citations were from yourself?  That's the situation with one Sundarapandian Vaidyanathan, a keenly self-promoting computer scientist in India.  He tops a giant list of over 100,000 researchers in a new study by Stanford meta-science researcher John Ioannidis et al, published in PLOS Biology and profiled in a Nature article.  While this is an extreme example, self-citation is fairly common in many scientific disciplines, though it has different possible explanations depending on the field and authorship patterns.  The median rate across the dataset was 12.7%, and varies considerably by age of author and country of origin.  (In a larger related study, Ukraine topped the list of self-citing countries.)  The authors caution against using self-citation rates to punish or vilify specific persons or institutions, although the data could be used to ferret out "citation farms" where researchers collude to boost their metrics by over-citing each other repeatedly.  In a world where quantitative publication metrics are increasingly important for career advancement, despite their one-dimensional nature, it's not surprising that some people are gaming the system.


Elsevier Turns Off the LIghts for UC

UC Elsevier logosAfter five months of grace period, Elsevier has finally turned off access to its 2019 journal content for the University of California System, marking the next phase in the long running battle between the world's largest scientific publisher and one of the world's largest and most prestigious research university systems.  After failing to reach an agreement over pricing and open access charges early this year, both sides ended negotiations and began a waiting game, with Elsevier hoping that UC would return to the bargaining table.  Until this point, the loss of immediate access to current content of so many journals was largely theoretical.  Now researchers will start learning what it actually means in reality. See also :  Berkeley's open letter to researchers


Medicine Joins the Preprint Trend

medrxiv logoPreprints have never taken hold among clinical researchers due to concerns about the potential misuse of research that has yet to undergo peer review.  But that may change now that a new preprint server dedicated to the medical sciences has debuted. medRxiv is now accepting submissions and will make preprints publicly available later in June.  Submissions will be screened by volunteer editors before publishing, and will be clearly labeled as not peer reviewed, a caution to clinicians not to use the research to alter clinical practice. The new site is co-sponsored by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Yale and BMJ.  It joins bioRxiv, a preprint system for the biological sciences, which launched in 2013 and now has over 50,000 posted papers.  More in Science and an interview with the organizers in The Scientist.


New Wiley Journal Archives

wiley logoThe Libraries have purchased historical electronic archives for a number of additional Wiley journals, including these chemistry-related titles:

  • Biotechnology & Bioengineering (1959-1995)
  • Helvetica Chimica Acta (1918-1998)
  • Journal of Biomedical Materials Research (1967-1995)
  • Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology (and prior titles) (1882-1995)
  • Journal of Raman Spectroscopy (1973-1995)
Connect to these Wiley-owned titles via the Journals database or the Library Catalog.

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