ChemBark’s First Poll. Ever.

September 26th, 2012


Would you join an upstart professional organization of chemists dedicated to advancing the public image of chemistry, providing inexpensive access to scholarly journals, and effecting meaningful change in the ACS through winning ACS elections?




21 Responses to “ChemBark’s First Poll. Ever.”

  1. The Curious Wavefunction Says:

    Sign me up. A related question I always had was, what would it take to launch the chemistry version of arXiv?

  2. Paul Says:

    A rough sketch of a plan could be to raise funding via donations or grants to hire a staff of three editors who fervently believe in the effort. I’m sure Cornell would give us the extra server space until we could help them pay for it.

    The team and the volunteers who run the guild will then promote the hell out of the effort.

  3. Stu Says:

    I’m in.

  4. wolfie Says:

    Chemistry and its industry in Germany usually have a very good image, after long years of public image control with yellow rapeseed fields, and so on. But they’ve also accomplished real achievements. Never could such catastrophes happen once again as in Oppau. Only when bombs fall…

  5. Chemjobber Says:

    Absolutely, I’m in.

  6. Stu Says:

    @Ash – chemistry version of arXiv would require a lot of things, but at a fundamental level, journals such as JACS and Angewandte would have to agree to publish papers that already appear on arXiv. Unless I am mistaken, I don’t think they do at the moment. Not sure about RSC journals, but my guess would be they don’t allow that either (someone please correct me if I’m wrong). FYI – all Nature journals (to the best of my knowledge), including Nature Chem, don’t have a problem with a paper being on arXiv before (and after) we publish the paper.

  7. Steve Says:

    @Stu – The RSC policy indicates that ArXiv is OK. However, this does seem somewhat at odds with the statement lower down that a 12 month embargo applies to deposition in publicly available repositories – this presumably, however, only applies to the deposition of a post-peer review version of the paper.

  8. Stu Says:

    Hmm, not very clearly worded is it…

  9. Bailey Says:

    It’s not widely known, but there was a preprint server run by ChemWeb about 10 years ago ( Ultimately, it didn’t attract a sufficient number of articles to keep going, partially as a result of several publishers (including the ACS) refusing to publish results that had already been posted to the web (

  10. Curious Wavefunction Says:

    Having journals approve papers that have been published on a server like arXiv certainly seems like a requirement. Hopefully the ACS will come around to this viewpoint soon.

  11. eugene Says:

    How much would the fees for this new society be? Or do we just pay the ACS fee since you’re ‘trying to change the system from within’?

  12. Paul Says:

    No fees for the new organization. The leaders would be volunteers coordinating activities in their spare time and maintaining records on simple spreadsheets. But you’re exactly right that the key is for all members of the new society to retain their ACS memberships such that they are eligible to vote. The new society would be a sort of unofficial caucus (for voting purposes) with its own supplementary activities to promote chemistry.

  13. leftscienceawhileago Says:

    Why not just use arXiv directly?

  14. eugene Says:

    Well, as I’m not a member of the ACS, and am not planning to join in the near future (might change if I want to go to a meeting and get the discount), then I can’t really join or vote on this one.

  15. RB Woodweird Says:

    I fully support this, but I fear you all have no idea of the backlash which would follow any attempt to take control of the money generating machine from those who are now latched to its teat.

  16. Rebecca Says:

    It’s interesting that ACS is perfectly fine with publishing results that have already been presented at one of their National Meetings, but has issues with prior publication on arXiv. What’s the rationale?

  17. Special Guest Lecturer Says:

    The abstracts for ACS National Meetings are about a paragraph – it would be hard to consider that being a prior publication when it came time to send in your paper to JACS.

    Divisions that have preprints, such as the polymer divisions, do pose a risk of prior publication, which I think is ridiculous since they are not peer reviewed. You have to be careful with those preprints if you are describing unpublished work. In my opinion, the preprints are useless and should be scrapped anyway.

    It’s an interesting question as to why arXiv has not yet caught on with chemists. There are definitely intellectual property issues. For synthetic organic chemistry, there is also a ridiculous obsession with reporting the “first” synthesis or methodology paper in an area – arXiv would tell competing labs exactly where you were on it. Pity.

  18. Chemjobber Says:

    there is also a ridiculous obsession with reporting the “first” synthesis or methodology paper in an area.

    The battles are so vicious…

  19. Andrew Says:

    Although not for journal-based reasons, I got hacked off with being an RSC member (also Chartered Chem status) over some of the way they operated certain things, and so decided I would not bother renewing my subscription. I also got little personal value out of being a member and do not need to be a member to pursue my profession.

    So one year I did not renew…….

    I got a nice email reminder, but when I said in reply that I was not going to renew I got a sharp reply explaining that by-law $.x.12 g sub section f states that if I resign I had to return my certificates!

    I duly did so, by folding the A3 certificates into a DL envelope and sent them off……but guess what…….

    a few days later they sent them back with a big “cancelled” stamp on them, hand dated and signed by the membership officer!!

    They had spend 12+ years in a card sleeve in a filing cabinet – but now they are proudly taped on my office door!

    My interpretation of the story overall: Some of these societies are so old fashioned in very many elements of the way they operate, they will not want to change and think they do not have to do so despite a lot of noise.

  20. ajsp Says:

    As some others mentioned, many of us are not in the US (and consequently not interested in joining the ACS – unless we need to go to a conference one year…..), but would be interested in a professional organisation that did represent us more effectively. We would like access to literature when we’re not in work that provides it (or working at poor institutions; either way, needing to sneak friends passwords in feels bad). We wouldn’t mind paying moderately (although the RSC + ACS do seem to ask a lot for your average postdoc, who only directly benefits to the lit when out of work). Did I mention that there are probably a lot of us?

    NCS anyone? Non-aligned Chemical Society?

  21. Jerome Claverie Says:

    Yesterday, our librarian explained us the consequence of the new ACS pricing for us (a medium size chem dept in a Canadian university). Several scenarios were raised, with one of them being that the ACS would be cut completely (this would of course be my least favorite). Anyway, I decided not to renew my ACS subscription after 21 years of continuous support. Over the years, I gave ACS probably around 4000$ and got zero in return. I am a member of several other national chemistry organizations, but none are as broad-based as ACS. So, if another world-based professional organization was to start then I would consider joining, even with paying membership. But this organization would have to promote and protect chemistry, which I feel ACS is doing a poor job.

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