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NLM's TOXNET to be Retired

NLM logoAs of January 2020 the National Library of Medicine will be retiring its standalone suite of toxicology databases, known collectively as TOXNET, and folding some of the content into other existing resources.  The TOXLINE literature database will become of subset of PubMed.  HSDB and ChemIDPlus will fold into PubChem.  The Household Products Database and Haz-Map will be retired altogether.  These changes are summarized on the TOXNET Transition page.


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.

Plan S Delayed

plan s logo

Plan S, the ambitious Open Access project on the part of a number of major research funding agencies, primarily in Europe, has been "tweaked" to address some of the principal concerns of stakeholders.  Originally slated to launch in 2020, it has been pushed back a year in response to claims that the timeline was too short and impractical.  It will now go into effect in January 2021, to give researchers and publishers more time to adapt to its changes, which include requiring all research funded by participating agencies to be published fully open access immediately.   A change applauded by advocates is to require funders to ignore the prestige and "brand name" value of journals where research is published when considering new grants and renewals.  Another change, somewhat less welcomed by OA advocates, is the removal of a cap on the prices publishers can charge authors to make articles open. More information can be found in a Nature article summarizing the changes.  The Royal Society of Chemistry immediately convened a panel of researchers to react to the changes as well. 


CAS Registers 150 Millionth Substance

CA logoChemical Abstracts Service added the 150 millionth substance record to its Registry database on May 8.  Like the vast majority of new substances, it was reported in a patent.  CAS RN 2306877-20-1 is a 2-pyrimidinamine derivative.  CAS is now adding new substances at a rate of more than one million every month.


Springer-Nature Publishes the First Machine-Written Chemistry Book

springer book coverSpringer Nature has published what it claims to be the world's first scholarly book to be written entire by computers.  It's a summary of 150 recent papers on lithium-ion battery technology that have been published in Springer journals.  The book, which is freely available to read and download, is more of an experiment than an actual scholarly production.  An algorithm created by a computer scientist at Goethe University sifted through the papers using machine learning and pattern recognition techniques and "wrote" succinct summaries, which were then arranged into a linear table of contents.  The resulting text was deliberately left without copy editing or polishing, to demonstrate the actual capabilities of this technology.  For more information see a C&EN article and an interview with the publisher and editor.

[5/8/19; updated 6/25/19]

International Year of the Periodic Table

You see it on almost every classroom and laboratory wall.  It's on t-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and more.  Now it's getting a birthday party.  2019 has been designated by UNESCO and the United Nations as the International Year of the Periodic Table. It's widely considered to be the 150th anniversary of the first periodic table created by Dmitri Mendeleev, although the history of the periodic concept is complex and fascinating.  Find out lots more at IYPT2019 and from the American Chemical Society. 


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