February 26, 2007

ICIS Returns August 2006 Archived Chemical Prices To The Web (Open Access) and Launches ICIS Students Site

.: Those who follow this humble blog are aware that I have been on a mission of sorts regarding ICIS and its publication, Chemical Market Reporter (CMR), which became ICIS Chemical Business Americas (ICBA) in September 2006. My rants posts included rants coverage about the removal of weekly chemical prices from the print edition of CMR in 2005, and then the sudden and unannounced end of CMR during the first week of September 2006, and the appearance a week later of its replacement, ICBA, complete with 80% of the chemical prices permanently removed from its weekly listing. I last reported that I had received a very positive response to my rants concerns from Penny Wilson, the ICIS Global Editorial Director, who reaffirmed ICIS's commitment to its student readers. Subsquent to Penny's first response, she forwarded a number of suggestions for what ICIS could provide on its website to be of use to students. These included:

1. Create a holding tank for company price announcements. In this way students will get a lot more than from the slimmed down list currently offered on the ICBA site. The latter is provided by ICIS pricing and updated regularly, but it is not enough for students themselves. The prices we offered on the old CMR site were a big attraction to students, even though they were out of date and very rarely updated by CMR which didn't have the resources to do so.

2. Create a kind of "my space" for student blogs and forums - it will be global and allow students to swap information and discussions, tips and anything else they'd like to swap across many oceans, or just locally. It needs to be self-governed in some way. Undoubtedly it would provide us with good fodder to follow in our own content, as well as helping us take the temperature of students' needs/wants/thoughts etc.....

3. Create a holding tank for interesting student papers so they can be shared and aired. Academic papers could also be accommondated. A kind of "think-tank" environment.

4. Create a space for employers to market their companies to the next generation of employees - no job ads of course, but they could talk about the career development and post grad training opportunities they offer.

5. Create a space/holding tank for press releases. This would allow students to keep up with the news of the day (however biased) and also help them get a handle on vital industry information.

Over the past few months, Penny, her ICIS colleague Sue Royse, and I have been in touch a few times, and last week, Sue called from London to advise that the first iteration of the new ICIS Students site is up and running:
Welcome to the first phase of our service to students. We intend to develop this area into an entire Knowledge Zone, with information designed to help students with their studies and to equip tutors with some teaching tools. We hope it will turn into a space in which students and academics worldwide can communicate and discuss issues with each other, and showcase their best work to the wider world, not least potential employers.
Included in the new site is the last set of full chemical prices from the last issue of CMR, dated 28 August 2006, which at the very least can provide students with pricing information that for the next while is not necessarily that outdated. Additionally, Penny is soliciting feedback on how to make the site more useful and robust, so PLEASE send her your comments and ideas.

So kudos to Penny Wilson, Sue Royse, and the ICIS staff for not simply giving my concerns lip-service, but actually walking the walk. Penny and Sue plan to consult with a number of chemisty and chemical/materials engineering librarians and faculty in the coming months, to improve the site and make it as useful to students as possible. What's refreshing to me is that this is a rare example of a publisher - a trade publisher no less! - responding sincerely and to the needs of a very small percentage of their readership - students, who are their future customers.

September 22, 2006

A Heartfelt Response: Penny Wilson, ICIS Global Editorial Director, Reaffirms ICIS' Commitment To Students

.: In response to previous postings about the sudden disappearance of Chemical Market Reporter, the shortly-thereafter emergence of the new ICIS Chemical Business Americas (ICBA) site, and the lack of available chemical prices therein, I have had two very productive conversations, first with Joseph Chang, Editor of ICBA, and most recently with Penny Wilson, Global Editorial Director of ICIS Publications. From their responses, I think it is safe to suggest that ICIS values its student readers highly, and that issues raised from the aforementioned events appear to be on the road to resolution, with a heartfelt commitment from ICIS to address the needs of chemical engineering and chemistry students, and their instructors around the world. I invited Penny Wilson to respond to my posts, and as with Joseph Chang's earlier letter, I am happy to present Penny's letter in this forum. She raises new issues for consideration, and seeks to involve us - librarians, professors, instructors and the students - in a forthcoming collaboration to create something of value and use to those in the educational setting. Penny writes:

Dear Randy,

Your well-deserved rant about our lack of attention to students' needs when redesigning the CMR website to accommodate our new magazine brand, ICIS Chemical Business Americas, sowed a seed so deep that it has preoccupied many of my waking thoughts. Indeed I have, for the first time ever, welcomed a few traffic jams - encountered on many roads deep in the English countryside - because they've allowed me more time to better form my thoughts on how we could better serve the student community.

It is true that in the whirlwind of a huge rebranding, innovation and change management throughout ICIS in which we have launched many new products and services, and significantly revamped others to answer to rapidly changing global needs, students have fallen off the radar. But I can assure you they have never left the screen. Actually, we're passionate about students because we can all remember what it was like to be one but much more importantly, they are the future generation of readers and users and we have to nurture them.

Your criticisms have spurred us into action but while we have a rudimentary map of what we would like to do, we need your help - and others from around the globe - to help us create a truly meaningful service that is sustainable now, and in the future. Most of all, we need students themselves to tell us what they want and need, harness that information, use it wisely, and deliver in spades.

I thank you wholeheartedly for agreeing to help us draw together an advisory panel, which in my view needs to spread globally to truly reflect needs and wants. This project will take time to bear fruit, and I ask only for patience and as much feedback as possible while we work it out.

Meanwhile, we remain immensely proud of the services and products that we DO deliver today - ICIS pricing, the 24-hour ICIS news, ICIS forecasting, ICIS conferences, ICIS radio, ICIS TV and, of course, ICIS Chemical Business Americas and its sister, ICIS Chemical Business covering Europe, Middle East and Asia. Much of this has been achieved in less than 3 years.

As with every business and rapid innovation, cracks appear and one has to work hard to fill them. Rest assured that we're not glossing over the one you have highlighted.

With kind regards,

Penny Wilson
Global Editorial Director
ICIS Publications
Tel: +44 208 6523921
Email: penny.wilson AT

Penny followed up with another e-mail to me, outlining ideas for a "student site" at ICIS. I will share these with you pending Penny's approval at a later date, and promise to continue posting about this new concept as it slowly unfolds. In the meantime, I would appreciate hearing back from anyone who would be interested in participating and contributing to such a student site. If you have ideas and feedback, let's hear from you, and please feel free to contact Penny Wilson and Joseph Chang as well. Finally, my thanks again to Penny, and to Joseph, for taking the time to respond to concerns raised on STLQ about their publication.

September 19, 2006

IUPAC-NIST Solubility Database

IUPAC-NIST Solubility Database, Version 1.0
NIST Standard Reference Database 106

The IUPAC-NIST Solubilities Database is an online database containing nearly 70,000 solubility measurements, primarily liquid-liquid systems, derived from 18 volumes (1) of the IUPAC Solubility Data Series.

Data is given for binary, ternary and quaternary systems. Typical solvents and solutes include water, sea water, heavy water, inorganic and organic compounds. There are about 1800 chemical substances with literature references.

A detailed description of the Solubility Data Project, presentation formats, evaluations, quantities & units, nomenclature, and definitions is given in the introduction.

A variety of approaches to searching are listed on the Database Search Menu.

1. The Data Series IUPAC (Volume titles) provides links to the volume contents, e.g.,

  • Volume 60. Halogenated Methanes with Water
  • Volume 62. Carbon Dioxide in Water and Aqueous Electrolyte Solutions
  • Volume 66. Ammonium Phosphates
which can be quickly scanned for systems of interest.

2. Solubility System Name offers a 'pull-down' menu of system names in 'alphabetical' order.

Continue reading "IUPAC-NIST Solubility Database" »

September 11, 2006

ICIS Chemical Business Americas Replaces Chemical Market Reporter - ICIS Disregards Its Educational Customers

.: I.: I don't know where to begin this time. I'm trying hard to contain my anger. Last week I reported that ICIS brought down the Chemical Market Reporter site, virtually at the same time I was teaching a class of 155 chemical engineering students on, among other things, how to search CMR to find current chemical prices, a major component of one of their assignments. What I didn't realize was that ICIS had brought down the CMR site, and was redesigning it to become ICIS Chemical Business Americas. After learning about this the day after my instruction, the professor and I scrambled to get an explanation to all 155 students; we sent them a note advising that the new site would be up today (Monday 11 Sept 2006). I had hopes that the new site would at the very least return access to the full list of chemical prices. This did not happen.

Instead, in yet another example of a trade publisher's apparent disregard of its educational subscribers (which would include thousands of students studying to become engineers and needing access to these prices for their design courses), ICIS no longer is reporting most of the prices it previously reported on a weekly basis, with the following explanation:

These are chemical price indications based on pricing information obtained from market participants. Posted prices are updated on a periodic basis and do not necessarily represent levels at which transactions may have actually occurred, nor do they represent bid or ask prices. Price ranges, indicated by the two columns, may represent quotations from different participants, as well as differences in quantity, quality and location. Although prices are reported as accurately as possible, they do not carry any guarantees. The prices are intended as a guide for ICIS Chemical Business Americas readers and not to be used as a basis for negotiations between producers and customers.

The volume of prices has been narrowed significantly to those which can be updated on a regular basis. If you have any questions, please contact Editor Joseph Chang at 212-791-4224 or , or CSC at 888-525-3255 or .

This means that prices will only be posted if they change – a price doesn’t change for two years, it won’t get posted until then. My guess is at least 75% of the previously reported chemical prices are gone. If I had any doubts that ICIS did not consult with anyone in engineering education before these changes were confirmed, those doubts have been washed away with the deleted chemical prices.

I checked the Chemical Prices P-S for the week of 28 August - 3 Sept 2006, and counted 209 prices. For the period of 11-17 September 2006, Chemical Prices for the letters P, Q, R, and S total 36 prices, or an 82.% decrease in the typical number of prices previously reported in this alphabetic range.

What is it about trade publishers and their apparent disregard for their educational customers? I know, it's all about the almighty dollar, but good grief - what part of "we’re teaching your future customers” doesn’t resonate in the commercial world?

It doesn't matter that I have a bit of egg on my face from having taught 155 chemical engineering students how to search a site that no longer existed while I was actually teaching them. But there's a larger rub that really angers me.

As documented earlier, ICIS removed the chemical prices from the print edition of CMR in April 2005, moved the prices online, and decided to charge something in the vicinity of US$10,000 to access the prices online. After I and others raised hell about that option, Brian Gray reported that he had negotiated with CMR to allow educational institutions access to the most recent twelve months of chemical prices online, at US$415 - something for which we had paid in our print subscriptions in the first place! Later it was confirmed that unlimited access would cost us US$715! So for any of us in universities, colleges, etc., to provide access to the archived weekly chemical prices, we needed to ante up another few hundred dollars for a service that we had received as part of existing subscriptions for decades. Did I mention that these chemical prices are at times critical to an undergraduate chemical engineering student's education?

Now, said unlimited access gives us much less from Sept 2006 onwards. As such, college and university libraries supporting programs in chemical engineering and the chemical industry will need to decide whether or not to continue to pay an inflated subscription price for access to an online product, once extremely critical to undergraduate chemical engineers' education, or to cancel and look for the same information elsewhere.

Perhaps the writing is on the wall, and I'm too dumb to process it: for commercial and trade publishers, maybe future customers don't count until they actually exist.

April 12, 2006

Organic Chemistry Resources Worldwide

"Organic Chemistry Resources Worldwide is a website designed for organic chemists. It collects and annotates all useful organic chemistry sites and presents them in an intuitive way. This low-graphics, quick-loading guide has no access restriction, is available for a worldwide audience, and requires no registration or user fee." C&EN April 3, 2006 [Digital Briefs] p.42


"3D-Seek is a new kind of search engine that lets users find items in an online catalog without knowing the items' names, part numbers, or keywords. All the user needs is a freehand sketch. The 3D-Seek catalog currently contains more than 6,000 parts and continues to grow as suppliers manually upload their files or as the system's i-crawler Web spider discovers parts online." C&EN April 3, 2006 [Digital Briefs] p.42

(Randy: Of note is that it doesn't appear to work in Firefox, including in Safe Mode. I received a response from someone at Imaginestics, who advised that "We haven't tested our portal in Firefox yet. In case the i-Canvas ActiveX installation was not successful, you can download the ActiveX setup file directly from,")

March 2, 2006

George Porter: RSC Provides Free Online Access to Developing Countries -- Whither ACS?

The Royal Society of Chemistry issued a press release about this new development. The free access is for developing countries, many of which are in Africa, although former Soviet states Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic are also included. The program applies to the RSC archives (1841-1996). However, as Hareg Tadesse notes, "... the RSC is only one publisher of Chemistry Journals. And some of my key papers were not from the RSC. Therefore, I would like to call on all publishers of Chemistry Journals to follow the lead of the RSC to support young Chemists like me with their archives so that we can bring the benefits of Chemistry to our great continent."

Continue reading "George Porter: RSC Provides Free Online Access to Developing Countries -- Whither ACS?" »

November 25, 2005

Dana Roth on Open Access Archives and STM

As commercial STM publishers continue to increase the subscription prices of their journals, and charge for backfile access, is it time for them to consider offering open access to their archives? Dana Roth of the Millikan Library at Caltech considers the benefits and consequences of such a move in this commentary:

Open Access Archives and STM Publishers - A Commentary by Dana Roth

One wonders ...

One wonders when commercial publishers might re-think their marketing strategies and recognize that their library subscribers deserve some compensation for years of annual price increases that far exceed inflation (for either CPI or pagination). The cumulative effect of decades of these often questionable price increases is exemplified by an analysis of the 2004 subscription costs, pagination, and cost/page.

Journal Title (publisher/volume) 2004 $ 2004 pp 2004 $/p
J. Electrochem. Soc. (ECS-v.151) $715 5825 $0.12
J. Solid State Electrochem. (Sp-v.9) $585 913 $0.64
Electrochimica Acta (P/Els-v.49) $4215 5260 $0.80
Electroanalysis (W/VCH-v.16) $2428 2094 $1.16
J. Applied Electrochem. (Kl-v.34) $2029 1291 $1.57
J. Electroanal. Chem. (Els-v.560-572) $9469 4267 $2.26

Factoring in the ISI Impact Factors (IP) and normalization of the cost/page/IP values for each commercial journal against the Journal of the Electrochemical Society (JES) produces some very startling results. These normalized values (2004N$/p/IP) are possibly a measure of the cost-effectiveness of each journal compared with JES.

Journal title - 2004 ISI/IP 2004$/p/IP 2004N$/p/IP
J. Electrochem. Soc. - 2.36 0.05 1.0
Electrochimica Acta - 2.34 0.34 6.8
Electroanalysis - 2.04 0.57 11.4
J. Solid State Electrochem. - 0.98 0.65 13.0
J. Electroanal. Chem. - 2.29 0.99 19.8
J. Applied Electrochem. - 0.98 1.60 32.0

While the Electrochemical Society's JES is somewhat unique in its very reasonable cost/page, they are certainly not publishing this journal at a loss. The normalized values of the 2004 cost/page/IP indicate that the J. Electrochem. Soc. is more cost effective than the J. Applied Electrochem. by a factor of 32. Alternatively, looking simply at the difference in the $cost/page data suggests that, if published by a society, J. Electroanal. Chem. could be priced at $512/year instead of $9649.

Given these presumably handsome profits, would it be unreasonable to suggest that commercial publishers consider making their online archives freely available thru an equivalent of PubMed Central?

One can only imagine the enormous positive public relations that the first commercial publisher will receive for this small token of appreciation to the library and research community ... and that this might encourage others to follow suit. This would also have the beneficial effect of freeing up funds for the learned society journal back files, which when their capital costs are met could also be made freely available. Thus, with a little publisher cooperation, an Open Access environment for virtually all journal articles published more than ten years ago would be a reality.

P.S. Publishers should also strongly consider offering RSS feeds, and MARC records for new online books in addition to currently offered e-mail announcements.

Dana L. Roth
Millikan Library / Caltech 1-32
1200 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91125
626-395-6423 fax 626-792-7540
dzrlib AT

November 18, 2005

eMolecules Introduces Chmoogle

.: The following appeared on CHMINF-L this morning, and on the eMolecules web site:

SAN DIEGO -- November 18, 2005 -- eMolecules, Inc. today announced the launch of Chmoogle (, the world's leading free open-access chemistry search engine. Chmoogle's mission is to discover, curate and index all of the public chemical information in the world, and make it available to the public. Chmoogle distinguishes itself by extremely fast searches, an appealing presentation of results, and high-quality chemical drawings.

"The world's knowledge in chemistry is an invaluable resource", said Dr. Klaus Gubernator, eMolecule's Chief Executive Officer. "It lies dormant until it becomes searchable by every chemist. The language of chemistry is chemical structures. Chmoogle makes the world's chemistry searchable by structure. Just draw a molecule using your favorite structure drawing tool and hit Go!."

Craig James, Chmoogle's Chief Technology Officer, explained, "The scale and speed of Chmoogle is unlike anything that's come before. We had to start from scratch, build a new chemical database engine from the ground up, so that we could give users the response times they expect, handle one of the world's largest collections of molecules, and respond to the unique demands of the world wide web."

Chmoogle allows users to send queries, results and individual structures as links to their colleagues via email. This feature creates an unparalleled collaborative environment for chemists worldwide.

Chmoogle provides "Chmoogle Free" code that users can embed into their own web sites for direct access to Chmoogle, as well as hosted cheminformatics systems and full web sites for chemical suppliers, pharmaceutical and other chemical industries.

Not being a chemistry librarian, I will defer to those qualified to comment on the functionality and utility of this new product.

September 16, 2005

Wiley Introduces Online Mass Spectral Library

.: From 16 Sept 2005 Knowledgespeak:

Publisher John Wiley & Sons, US, has launched a wide-ranging online database titled ‘Wiley Registry 7th Ed./NIST 2005 Mass Spectral Library’. The resource, which contains over 461,000 mass spectra, covers illegal drugs, environmental pollutants, pharmaceuticals, chemical weapons and several other compounds. For the first time, the Wiley Registry of Mass Spectral DataT, 7th edition and the NIST/NIH/EPA Mass Spectral Library 2005 have been integrated into a single online library. The database is targeted at laboratories that cater to emergency response, urgent care and various critical activities where immediate recognition of the compound is crucial. The library comprises 820,528 unique chemical names as well as 222,553 unique CAS numbers in formats such as Agilent Chemstation and NIST MSSearch/Thermo Xcalibur.
Knowledgespeak does not provide links to individual entries or daily posts, so you need to go the homepage and find the entry therein.

August 18, 2005

Two New Open Access Informatics Journals

.: George Porter reports the following: Cancer Informatics is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal from Libertas Academica. The first issue has already been released. A banner on the journal's website indicates Cancer Informatics has been accepted for indexing in PubMed, although I haven't found independent confirmation yet.

Jason Moore, a member of the editorial board, from the Computational Genetics Laboratory at Dartmouth Medical School, provides a good summary of the target areas of Cancer Informatics in a posting to his Epistasis Blog.

Evolutionary Bioinformatics Online (EBO) is a new Open Access journal, the first issue of which has not yet been released. EBO is the second Open Access journal started by Libertas Academica, following the recent debut of Cancer Informatics.

Libertas Academica is a fairly new arrival on the publishing scene, having been "... established in 2004 to promote and expand Open Access to scientific, technical and medical information. Our mission is to implement Open Access journals whilst still preserving the very high editorial standard that have characterized conventional subscription-based publishing in the past."

.: George also reports that PubChem has added structures from the NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC). As well, PubChem has added structures from ChemBridge and updated its structures from ChemIDplus and NIAID

June 3, 2005

Chemical Market Reporter To Offer IP Access to Universities/Colleges

:: I have been in contact with Connie Magner, Assistant Manager of Subscription Sales for ICIS Publications, publishers of Chemical Market Reporter. Connie advises that CMR will be offering two options to learned/academic institutional subscribers of CMR, to allow for access to the chemical prices. One option, for US$415/year, will provide for unlimited online access to the current issue of CMR every Monday morning plus unlimited search access to a one year online archive (moving wall.) For US$715/yr access will be provided to the full CMR archive, currently 6 years worth of material, including the chemical prices. The rates offered are being offered to the institutions who will maintain their current paper copy subscriptions. Access to the online version of CMR will be provided via IP authentication.

While I lament the loss of the chemical prices in the print edition, I am pleased that CMR has offered an alternative to colleges and universities, to allow access to the very important chemical prices. My sincere thanks to Connie Magner in London, and Helga Tilton, the Editor-in-Chief of CMR in New York, for working towards a solution, which will allow universities and colleges access to the very important weekly chemical prices. My thanks also to Brian Gray at Case Western Reserve for his work towards solving this access dilemma.

May 24, 2005

More on Chemical Market Reporter

:: Brian Gray, creator of e³ Information Overload - E-Resources in Engineering Education (a blog of which I was not aware), reported the following on CHMINF-L:

I have been working with CMR to get electronic access for my patrons. They have finally worked out the process and asked me to share the newest information. They are eager to hear comments and concerns as they offer this new access. The contact information is included in their announcement.

SPECIAL UNLIMITED ACADEMIC ONLINE ACCESS RATE FOR CMR - ONLY US$415 Access to CMR online will give you: Free online access to the current issue of CMR every Monday morning. So you can read it first - incisive analysis of chemical news and information from the US and globally. With highly respected editorial, expert analysis of the whole industry and dedicated financial coverage.

Free, unlimited search access to our online archive, giving you instantly the chemicals information you need from an entire year's issues of CMR.

Online Pricing Guide - carrying an extensive A to Z listing of over 500 chemical prices. This listing is the most comprehensive and up-to-date, an essential reference tool for any chemical executive.

To get your special rate of unlimited users/ buildings at US$415 or to find out about single access call:
Connie Magner
Subscriptions Sales - ICIS publications
Tel: +44 20 8652 4775

I appreciate Brian's work to help get this sorted out, but I find CMR's solution a poor one. The academic and college libraries already subscribing to the print edition of Chemical Market Reporter are being asked to fork over another $415US (~$525CN) to get online access to something we've paid for in print for years. CMR extracts content from the print edition, moves it online, and wants more money for it? Also, will the archive of chemical prices be available for one year only? How will faculty and students working on research projects requiring historical or retrospective prices find this information otherwise? Professor Jakob Zabicky of the Institutes for Applied Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, responded on CHMINF-L accordingly:
The apology for CMR seems rather strange. All the goodies offered by electronic-CMR for only $415 may be Delikatessen for "any chemical executive". We used to get them in print for $190 without the frills, which are of low value in academy. So, if ICIS publications reads this, let them know we won't renew the subscription, if not, they'll become aware in due time.
I would tend to agree. The impression we are getting is that CMR isn't aware of the importance and value of its chemical pricing content to students, researchers and faculty. After so many decades of publication, this is rather astonishing. Ben Wagner, U Buffalo, followed Prof Zabicky's comment with one of his own:
Though it does not include the price listing any more, we have depended on third party aggregators for CMR articles as follows:

from 01/27/1992 to present in ABI/INFORM Global
from 11/04/1996 to present in Business ASAP and InfoTrac OneFile

So I would cancel the print subscription if we had one, and I am indeed not happy about loss of access to pricing information.

I agree. I have not heard back from the Editor-In-Chief, Helga Tilton, since she called me on May 19th. For now, I am still willing to give CMR the benefit of the doubt. I hope they bring the prices back to the paper copy, at least on a monthly basis, so that there will be archival access in print, and via the aggregator dbs mentioned above by Ben. And I hope they solve this soon.

May 19, 2005

Chemical Market Reporter and Chemical Prices - An Editorial Response

:: Chemical Market Reporter dropped the "People and Prices" section from its print contents with the v267 n13, 28 March-3 April 2005 issue. This was reported on CHMINF-L by David Flaxbart (which generateed considerable response), and was followed with a rant of my own on this site.

Afterwards, I waited until we received the paper copy of the issue in question. After examining it and confirming the absence of chemical prices within, I sent a note to faculty members in the Depts of Chemical and Materials Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta, as follows:

Hello to everyone in Chemical and Materials Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. I don't know if you are aware, but with the v267 n13 28 March-3 April 2005 issue, Chemical Market Reporter switched from a tabloid format to a slick magazine format, and removed their weekly chemical prices from the issues. The "People and Prices" section is now available online only, and requires a subscription-based username and password.

As a result, students and researchers no longer have access to the weekly chemical prices. In the engineering library world, we are astonished at this development. Thousands of chemical, materials and mechanical engineering students in universities and colleges regularly use CMR to find chemical prices for their design projects (among other research) - this is no longer possible with CMR's new editorial policy.

I recently wrote a column on chemical and petroleum prices for the SLA Chemistry Division E-Newsletter, entitled A Brief Guide To Finding Chemical and Petroleum Prices and Other Statistical Information (p4-5). The article was set for publication when CMR made its change, and I was able to append my entry, lamenting the loss of access to this very valuable and essential resource.

The editor of CMR, Helga Tilton, welcomes feedback on the new format. Her e-mail address is helga.tilton AT My guess is that CMR does not focus on educational institutions, but on the industry primarily, and did not take into account the impact of this decision. I urge you to contact her to express your views regarding this change, which many of my colleagues and I view as a step backwards.
Following my e-mail, a post-doctorate fellow in our Dept of Chemical and Materials Engineering responded with a passionate e-mail to Ms Tilton, expressing her concern that it is now impossible for the average science and engineering student or researcher to access chemical prices. I was very happy to receive her support to get the chemical prices reinstated or made accessible to our students and researchers.

So imagine my surprise as my phone rang yesterday, and when I answered it, Ms Helga Tilton, Editor-in-Chief of Chemical Market Reporter, was on the other end of the line! She told me she had just finished speaking at length with the chemical engineering researcher, Dr Christina Faitakis, and wanted to speak to me as well. We had a candid and frank discussion about how critical it is to students, scientists, researchers and engineers in education institutions to have access to weekly chemical prices. I explained how our engineering students work in teams on their design projects, and cited examples of why chemical prices are a key component of these projects.

Another point is one I continue to hammer home with Standards Developing Organizations, which is this: it is critical for trade publications like Chemical Market Reporter to remember that the students in universities and colleges who make use of their publications on an ongoing basis are their future customers. While the number of educational subscriptions may pale in comparison to the number from industry, the impact of a publication like CMR on students is just as critical as with front-line engineers.

Ms Tilton was very receptive to our concerns, welcomed our feedback, and was pleased that we cared enough to respond to the change in policy. I told her I was extremely grateful that she would take the time to respond personally to our concern with a phone call. She told me that CMR is looking a couple of options regarding chemical prices: return the prices to the print edition, but on a monthly basis, and/or make the online "People and Prices" section available in an IP-protected environment without the need for an ID and PW. Neither option is guaranteed, but at least CMR is considering this, and that is all we can ask. Regarding the latter, there is also the concern about archiving the pricing data, and also, how would one cite the section if it only exists online, and is not part of the paper issue?

This morning, another University of Alberta chemical engineering professor wrote to Ms Tilton in support of this issue. To librarians in similar subject environments, please consider advising your faculty members of this development, and encourage them to write to Ms Tilton if they are so moved. Maybe we can make a difference.

April 22, 2005

Bonehead Move of the Year: Chemical Market Reporter Stops Including Chemical Prices In Its Issues

:: As reported in CHMINF-L by David Flaxbart:

Has anyone noticed the significant changes in Chemical Market Reporter? As of the March 28 issue, CMR has gone to a slick-magazine format. More importantly, the Chemical Prices section no longer appears. The CMR web site ( provides access to this and other information only by registering with a subscription number, then logging in with a username and password. Obviously, this is not a viable solution for library users who have used CMR for years to obtain current chemical pricing information. I see no information on their web site about institutional web subscriptions, either.

CMR has just become much less useful for a library, and the publisher probably did not stop to consider this when redesigning the magazine. It's also unclear how Schnell, the longtime publisher, is related to ICIS, the new publisher.

This is the kind of news that makes me want to bang my head against a wall. What is up with this publisher? Once again, those of us in libraries supporting students and researchers who need critical nformation for their work and studies will be denied access because of a publisher's decision that most probably did not take the educational users of their product into account. Students on our campuses are studying engineering disciplines and when they graduate, many of them will become Paying Customers of publications like CMR.

CMR can be searched on Business Source Premier or ABI Inform. I searched it on BSP, and as expected, no "People and Prices" section is available past the v267 n12 21 March 2005 issue. The quality of the.pdf version of this section, when downloaded from BSP or ABI Inform has been marginable at best, but it was better than nothing, when the print edition might have been hard to track down for our users.

Having to use a subscription number plus ID and PW to access any journal is a useless exercise for libraries. This is an unwelcome development for libraries supporting chemistry and various engineering disciplines such as petroleum refining and chemical engineering. It will make it all the more difficult for students working on capstone projects in engineering design courses to secure prices for their research. Then again, students and faculty members don't generate subscription income as a rule, do they?

I'm also ticked because I recently completed an article for the Newsletter of the Chemistry Division of SLA on - wait for it - finding chemical and petroleum prices, and of course I mentioned the "People and Prices" section of CMR. (It was the editor, Mary Ann Mahoney, who e-mailed me with this news.)

I wonder if it's worth flooding the publisher with a number of angry e-mails? I will pass this information on to the chemical engineering professors on my campus, and ask them to consider taking some action about it; they will not be happy about it, to be sure. The editors of CMR may not have considered that this decision might alienate a few users, and yet this is what has happened; pity. Dumb, stoopid move.

March 29, 2005

Handbook of Chemistry & Physics Updating Policy

:: Excerpted from a post on CHMINF-L, David R Lide, Editor-in-Chief, CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, explains the policy of updating HCP:

Each annual edition provides an opportunity to add new material, update/expand existing tables, and correct errors. Certainly, all errors that we have found or that have been brought to our attention by users are corrected in each new edition. We typically introduce five or six new topics each year, and five to ten existing tables are updated or expanded. The net result is the at least 5% of the book is substantially changed each year. In some years, when a very long table is updated, the changes can amount to 10-20%.

Continue reading "Handbook of Chemistry & Physics Updating Policy" »

March 22, 2005

Beilstein Launches Open Access Journal on Organic Chemistry

:: George Porter sent word about the following new open access journal for organic chemistry:

San Diego, CA.: The prestigious Beilstein-Institut today announced the launch of the first major Open Access journal for organic chemistry. Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry will be published by the Beilstein-Institut in co-operation with BioMed Central, the Open Access publisher. The peer-reviewed online journal will begin publication during 2005, and a call for papers, providing full information for authors, will be issued in May.

Director of the Beilstein-Institut Martin Hicks made the announcement at the American Chemical Society 229th Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. Professor Jonathan Clayden, of the University of Manchester, has been confirmed as the Editor-in-Chief, and an international editorial advisory board is also being appointed.

The Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry will publish outstanding original research on all aspects of organic chemistry and related disciplines. Areas covered in the journal will include: organic synthesis, organic reactions and mechanisms, natural products chemistry and chemical biology, organic materials and macro- and supramolecular organic chemistry.

Continue reading "Beilstein Launches Open Access Journal on Organic Chemistry" »

March 7, 2005

ACS Broadens Article Access

:: From Chemical & Engineering News, March 7, 2005, v83 n10, p10: "ACS Broadens Article Access - Conditions set for free availability one year after publication"

The American Chemical Society is broadening access to research articles published in its scholarly journals. The society is introducing two experimental policies that define how readers can view free digital versions of the articles beginning one year after publication.

The first policy represents a response to public access guidelines recently released by the National Institutes of Health (C&EN, Feb. 7, page 23). NIH encourages authors whose work it funds to submit their peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central, the agency's free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. ACS has decided to take on the task of submission to PubMed Central on behalf of its authors, according to Robert D. Bovenschulte, president of the society's Publications Division. ACS will authorize PubMed Central to make the authors' versions of unedited manuscripts available to the public 12 months after the edited, final articles are published by ACS.

The above reported by Sophie Rovner. Via: Open Access News.

:: The March v6.3 2005 issue of ACS's LiveWire is now available.

February 14, 2005

Royal Society of Chemistry Announces Three New Book Series

:: From a post on CHMINF-L:

2005 sees exciting times for RSC book publishing, with the launch of three new series.

Firstly, Biomolecular Sciences is a new series of research level books, covering the areas of structural biology, chemical biology, informatics, drug discovery and development, and biophysical chemistry. Ideal for academics and professionals, either with a chemical, biochemical or biological background, conducting research in appropriate chemical and biological science disciplines.

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, a series edited by Nobel prize winner Harry Kroto and Paul O'Brien, will also be launching. This book series will cover the wide ranging areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In particular, the series will provide a comprehensive source of information on research associated with nanostructured materials and miniaturised lab on a chip technologies. This series will provide an accessible reference for professionals and researchers in academia and industry.

The field of toxicological research is rapidly expanding and diversifying driven by the need to understand the human and ecological risks of exposure to chemicals and other toxicants. Our third new series, Issues in Toxicology is devoted to coverage of modern toxicology and assessment of risk and is responding to the resurgence in interest in these areas of scientific investigation. Written by expert scientists from academia, government and industry, each book will serve as a reference and guide to investigations in toxicology, biomedicine, biochemistry, forensics and environmental/pollution sciences.

For more information about these new additions to the RSC book portfolio go to

Heather Ellicott, Trade Marketing Manager Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Milton Road, Science Park, Cambridge CB4 0WF, UK Tel +44 (0)1223 432257, Fax +44 (0)1223 426017 and

While posting this, it occurred to me (again) how frustrating it is to have to find such press releases via listservs rather than the publisher's home site. I checked the RSC Press Releases Homepage, and as of today, Feb 15, nothing has been added since a Feb 3, 2005 notice. In addition to the above post on CHMINF-L, another post about RSC lauching OpenURL linking appears on CHMINF-L. Neither of these releases in on the RSC Press Release Homepage. More frustrating is that RSC does not have RSS embedded into their press release or news pages! Argh.

So the rhetorical question is: what is taking publishers so long to see the value of RSS, and add it to pages on their sites that are regularly updated, especially press release pages??? I don't have the time to start trolling publishers' sites, in an attempt to confirm which publishers are or are not using RSS. If you know of and STM publishers using RSS, please let me know.

February 4, 2005

Combined Chemical Dictionary Expands Its Content

:: The Combined Chemical Dictionary, available via CHEMnetBASE, expanded its content today. From an e-mail from Dr Fiona Macdonald, Publisher, Chemistry, Taylor and Francis Books:

Changes include:
  • Addition of 5,900 new compounds
  • Now contains 188,000 natural products, 46,000 drugs, 276,000 organic compounds and 103,000 inorganic/organometallic compounds
  • Literature coverage to mid -2004
We purchased CHEMnetBASE many moons ago, and were happy to stop using the CD-ROM equivalents. Note that "Searching each Chemnetbase product is completely free of charge - you can browse, perform searches and view search hitlists. If you want to view or print the full product entries you will need a current subscription."

January 28, 2005

The Literature of Chemistry: Recommended Titles for Undergraduate Library Collections

:: On CHMINF-L, Gary Wiggins posted information about a new book by Judith Douville, who is the Science & Technology Editor for Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. The book is called The Literature of Chemistry: Recommended Titles for Undergraduate Chemistry Library Collections. From the ALA site:

A comprehensive, annotated, guide to current books, Internet resources, and journals in chemistry designed for use by students, faculty, and researchers. Includes coverage of over 1,800 resources in all major fields, including analytical, physical, organic, inorganic, and environmental chemistry. Contains 11 chapters plus extensive index.
Gary added:
The comprehensive, annotated guide to over 1,100 core chemistry titles is divided into the following categories:

1. Basic Chemistry
2. Aplied Sciences Related to Chemistry
3. Analytical Chemistry
4. Physical Chemistry
5. Organic Chemistry
6. Inorganic Chemistry
7. Environmental Chemistry
8. Industrial Chemistry
9. Polymer Chemistry
10. Biological Chemistry
11. Internet Resouces in Chemistry.

There is also a section on Journals in Chemistry that reproduces the January 2004 American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training Journal List for Undergraduate Programs.

December 15, 2004

ACS Division of Chemical Information - Highlights from 228th Meeting, Philadelphia, August 2004, Of Interest to Librarians

:: The 228th ACS National Meeting was held in Philadelphia in August, 2004. A selection of slide presentations from some of the 98(!) sessions of the Division of Chemical Information are available for viewing on the web site. On the ReedElsevier discussion list, Joe Kraus noted that Karen Hunter of Elsevier gave a presentation on open access:

CINF 31: Elsevier: A commercial publisher's perspectives on Open Access Karen Hunter, Elsevier, 360 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010, k.hunter AT

Abstract: The publishing industry, academia, and scientific research itself, have gone through a tidalwave of change since the emergence of the internet. During the early days of the transition to online publishing, many perceived a revolution of science in the making. Today, usage of scientific journals online has doubled year on year, indicating that scientific information is reaching users like never before. At the same time, library budgets continue to be reduced and libraries are forced to make difficult decisions about collection development and access. Various forms of "pay to publish" models are surfacing, as well as alternative distribution models. Now once again, revolution is in the air. This presentation will include proprietary Elsevier research and focus on Elsevier's view, as a commercial publisher, on Open Access and related activities, such as Open Archiving and institutional repositories, as well as the general outlook for the future.

Dana Roth commented on Hunter's presentation:
Thanks to Joe for this 'heads up'. It is interesting to see the cost/article for varying from $10K down (Science) to $3.8K (estimated STM mean cost).

One suspects that Science is dividing their total cost of production by the number of research articles.

The AIP is offering 'open access' for $2K (in 2005 for J. Math. Phys., Rev. Sci. Instrum. & Chaos), in contrast with Springer's charge of $3K.

Acta Crystallography is offering it at $800 (450GBP), which includes "editorial and production costs of editing, markup, hyperlinking, validation and assembly of an article and any associated supplementary materials".

Optics Express is charging $450 (for 6 pages or less)and $800 (for 7-15 pages), but is specifically not offering copy editing.

**It would be nice to have a tabulation of journals and 'open access' charges so, if you have info on others, please post.

Continue reading "ACS Division of Chemical Information - Highlights from 228th Meeting, Philadelphia, August 2004, Of Interest to Librarians" »

December 6, 2004

"Chemical Information Instruction" web conference now open

The SLA Chemistry Division and the ACS CINF Division cosponsored web conference, "Chemical Information Instruction," is now open for registration and participation. Links to the full text of the presentations are provided on the main conference page and at the beginning of each discussion forum.

To register,

  • a) go to The first box directly under the main title will say, "SLA Chemistry Division Forums." Within this box on the left side, there is a link to "Register." Click on this.
  • b) Fill in the appropriate information, including your email address, choose your own User Name and password, then submit.
  • c) Final step: Activate your account. Following submission of your registration information, an email will automatically be generated by the Forum and sent to you requesting that you activate your account by clicking on the link contained within the email. Once you do this, you're set to go and may now freely participate.
For those who have previously registered with us for the summer conference, your User Names and passwords are still valid. If, however, you have forgotten your password, just click on the Log-in button at the upper right side of the screen, and a message will appear allowing you to click on a link which will enable you to reset your password. Just follow the instructions on that page.

Continue reading ""Chemical Information Instruction" web conference now open" »

November 29, 2004

SLA Chem Div - ACS CINF Web Conference - Chemical Information Instruction

:: On CHMINF-L, William Armstrong posted the following about a forthcoming web conference on chemical information instruction:

The SLA Chemistry Division and the ACS CINF Division will be co-sponsoring a web conference to be held during the first full week of December, 2004. The conference, entitled "Chemical Information Instruction," will feature five posters originally presented at the ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia in August, 2004, through the coordinating efforts of Erja Kajosalo of MIT. The discussions will take place on the SLA Chemistry Division Web Conference site at, where each poster will not only be linked to the full presentation, but will have its own discussion forum moderated by the author/presenter.

Continue reading "SLA Chem Div - ACS CINF Web Conference - Chemical Information Instruction" »

November 1, 2004

November ASC LiveWire Available

:: The latest issue of ACS's LiveWire, #5.9, November 2005, is available.

October 14, 2004

Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science

:: On PAMNET, A Ben Wagner asks the following regarding the Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science series:

Here at the University at Buffalo, we are considering investing in electronic access to entire Springer's Lecture Notes in Computer Science that includes Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics. This large series has 200-300 titles per year published so it would be a major commitment. We buy many of these in print, but would probably go e-only from this point on.

I would be interested in hearing about anyone's experience who has subscribed to this resource online. Feel free to contact me off-list. I will send a summary of responses to the list while maintaining anonymity of individual institutions.

-- A. Ben Wagner
Sciences Librarian
University at Buffalo
The State University of New York
abwagner AT buffalo DOT edu

Here at the U of Alberta, we are hoping to begin a subscription to this series as soon as possible, as it is the Number One request from our local comp sci department.

:: Issue 5.8 of ACS's LiveWire is now available.

October 6, 2004

Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing - How It Compares to Kirk-Othmer and Ullmann's

:: In mid-2005, Dekker will publish, in print and online, the Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing, a five volume set. Like many others, I have been curious to know the differences and overlap between this encyclopedia and the two related major works, Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology and Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, as well as its relationship to the 69-volume Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing and Design, which began publishing in 1976.

On CHMINF-L, Regina Bendig of McMaster U asked the question:

My question is whether someone on this list knows of or has done a comparative review of this title and Kirk-Othmer and/or Ullmann. A quick comparison of a few entries in Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing and Design and Kirk-Othmer gave me the impression that there is quite an overlap.
Oona Schmidt, Encyclopedias Editor/Supervisor for Dekker, responded accordingly:
As the publisher of the forthcoming ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEMICAL PROCESSING (anticipated in mid-2005), I'd like to explain what market need we would like our reference to fulfill, apart from the very fine Kirk-Othmer and Ullmann references.

The primary focus of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEMICAL PROCESSING is to provide detailed descriptions of chemical processes including information on
description and design of key unit operations that are involved with chemical processes. This includes information about reactors and separation systems, their design, description of unit operations, system integration, process system peripherals such as pumps, valves, and controllers, analytical techniques and equipment, as well as pilot plant design and scale-up criteria. In short, this Encyclopedia includes information of vital interest to civil engineers, electrical engineers, and mechanical engineers, in addition to chemical engineers, polymer engineers, and chemists.

Continue reading "Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing - How It Compares to Kirk-Othmer and Ullmann's" »

September 29, 2004

Chemistry and Science News Feeds

:: UK science writer David Bradley has created an RSS/XML chemistry and science news feed, linking together various news sites, including Reactive Reports Chemistry Webzine, Spectral Lines, Spotlight, and Sciencebase. Writing on CHMINF-L, Bradley noted:

You can preview the content at where there is also a FAQ link on RSS

The actual XML file can be found at and will display the headlines in the latest version of the Opera web browser but will show as XML tagging in MSIE and others unless you're running a news aggregator. You can add it to your "My Yahoo!" using this link

I've added a link to Sciencebase in the right hand column, under "Other Sites of Interest".

September 20, 2004

News Items of Interest from Information Today

Amazon Launches Search Site, Inc., a subsidiary of, Inc., has launched to make searching the Internet more effective. The new site builds on a beta test version the company introduced in April 2004 that offered Google searching of the Web combined with searches of Amazon's books and site information from Amazon's subsidiary, Alexa Internet. The official launch of adds several information sources and new search and organizational features. The company says the new site is more of an information management tool.

Continue reading "News Items of Interest from Information Today" »

September 13, 2004

Free Full-Text Journals in Chemistry

:: As posted to CHMINF-L:

A new academic year starts and the directory Free Full-Text Journals in Chemistry returns to active living.

All links and comments had been verified in August 2004. It was a surprise to me that less than ten journals died or closed free access to full texts since August 2003. Moreover, every forth journal of the list has expanded in free cyberspace.

As in the previous year, I plan to add new information to the site twice a
month. Don't miss announcements on short-term freebies in Part B of the Directory.

RSS feed <> is on.

I appreciate your comments.
Alexander Ragoisha
ragoisha AT bsu DOT by

August 24, 2004

Real-Time Document Request (RDR) Ranking Establishes New Method of Evaluating Scientific Journals

:: Press Release: CAS Science Spotlight Ratings Show Journals' Significance for Scientists

Philadelphia, August 23, 2004 - Recording how often a journal's contents are cited in scientific literature has long been the conventional way of measuring the importance of specific publications and even of the authors themselves. However, the widespread availability of electronic journals on the Web has enabled CAS to provide a new measurement - a tally of researchers' actual requests (Real-Time Document Requests) for full-text articles transmitted via CAS search services. The latest rankings are now available on the Web, free of charge, through CAS Science Spotlight and were announced at the American Chemical Society national meeting held this week in Philadelphia.

Continue reading "Real-Time Document Request (RDR) Ranking Establishes New Method of Evaluating Scientific Journals" »

August 23, 2004

CAS Extends Access to Additional Research from Early 20th Century

:: As posted to CHMINF-L.

CAS Extends Access to Additional Research from Early 20th Century

CA Databases Add More Than 7,000 Publication Records back to 1900

Philadelphia, August 23, 2004 - CAS has expanded its "Scientific Century" project by making thousands of additional early 20th century articles from American Chemical Society (ACS) journals and others available online. Planned for release in September, the enhanced content will enable researchers to access more than 7,000 additional records back to 1900, including publications even older than the beginning of Chemical Abstracts (CA). CAS announced the expanded access during the ACS National Meeting being held this week in Philadelphia.

Continue reading "CAS Extends Access to Additional Research from Early 20th Century" »

August 18, 2004

Chemistry Style Manual

:: As noted by Michael Engel on CHMINF-L: The Chemistry Style Manual, 2d ed, revised, 2004, by Professor Kieran F Lim, published by Deakin University, Australia. You may download one copy to your desktop. Copyright notice information is on p. xiii.

July 28, 2004

Classic Chemistry Book - Free Online Via U Cal Press

George Porter notes the following on CHMINF-L:

University of California Press, following the pioneering lead of the National Academy Press, has released 400+ books for public consumption. I've mentioned both of these excellent resources in the past. What sparked my interest today was a citation to an outstanding treatise on the evolution/revolution of scientific thought and understanding.

Rocke, Alan J. The Quiet Revolution: Hermann Kolbe and the Science of
Organic Chemistry
. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993.

Some additional sources of online books to which one can link, without fees
or contracts:

University of California Press eScholarship Editions

Additionally, UC Press provides linking assistance, with MARC and MODS records that can be loaded into library catalogs, and an Excel spreadsheet with key bits of information for those who simply wish to add the URL to existing records.

E-Editions - University of Nebraska Press

Baen Books

Hoover Institution Books Online

National Academy Press Reading Room

- George S. Porter

July 27, 2004

Statistical Analysis of RTECS Database

:: From a recent posting on CHMINF-L:

I recently prepared a detailed statistical analysis of the RTECS() database -- Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances. The analysis includes detailed statistics about coverage of the 158,000+ chemicals included in the database as of March, 2004, under the following headings:
    -acute toxicity
    -irritation data
The analysis generally includes statistics about common routes of administration, species tested, and measurement of results (e.g., LC50, LD50, etc.). It includes a list of the 10 most extensively covered substances in the database. There is also a list of the 10 most frequently cited journals/sources of information from the more than 3,100 individual sources that RTECS(R) cites. The document is seven pages, and it's available as a PDF file to anyone interested at:

Anyone may feel free to contact me with any questions at
cissupport AT

Bill Earle, Chemical Information System

July 21, 2004

The Future of Chemistry

:: Dana Roth wrote the following in a recent post to CHMINF-L (with a slight editorial change):

Peter Golitz' editorial in the latest web issue of Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. mentions George Whitesides' seminal essay on the future of chemistry. This is apparently an update of Whitesides' 1990 review entitled "What Will Chemistry Do in the Next Twenty Years?".

Golitz then segues into a promotion of Wiley-VCH's 'Small'. Golitz concludes with some interesting examples of the internationalization of ACIE's authors and argues that ACIE's ISI impact factor isn't boosted by the publication of a 50 review articles in 2003.

The links are:

Editorial: The Future of Chemistry?
Peter Golitz

Assumptions: Taking Chemistry in New Directions
George M. Whitesides

- Dana L. Roth

July 3, 2004

SLA Chemistry Division Presents First Web Conference

:: Dana Roth sent the following information about a fascinating new development from the Chemistry Division of SLA: the first annual Web Conference.

In keeping with its goal of bringing the SLA Annual Conference experience to its members who are not able to attend, the Chemistry Division of SLA will be sponsoring its first Web Conference, to be held throughout the month of July, 2004. This conference will feature the Poster Session presenters from the June SLA Annual Conference in Nashville. There will be three to four presenters per week, with ample opportunity for you to read and see the presentations online, as well as discuss any questions or comments you may have with the actual presenters, who will be moderating the discussions for their respective presentations.

The format for the discussion portion will be through an asynchronous bulletin board, so you may participate throughout the week at times convenient to you. Each set of discussions will be closed, however, at week's end, at which time a new set of topics will be presented. So if you wish to participate in the discussions taking place during a given week, please don't put it off too long.

The event will require registration, but this is free and painless. The
conference will take place at The site will be open for registration and participation beginning Monday, July 5.

Continue reading "SLA Chemistry Division Presents First Web Conference" »

June 23, 2004

Thoughts on Mastering the Chemical Literature

Dana Roth posted the following on CHMINF-L yesterday, an excerpt from an interview with photochemisty Nick Turro, in which Turro talks about mastering the chemical literature. Turro's comments are timely and encouraging, and speak directly to the importance of information literacy.

You can never totally master the literature. But there are certain levels of mastery that are essential and are straightforwardly achievable by all students. In fact, there is a certain attitude that students should take with respect to the literature. Most students don't fully appreciate the importance of this attitude until they discover that somebody knows something that they themselves should have known and could have known if they had studied the literature properly.

The basic attitude required is that you should be familiar with enough of the literature so that you never unnecessarily repeat work published in the past and that you should be aware in broad strokes of what has been published in the past. Students need to be aware that when a paper is submitted for publication, a lack of knowledge of the literature leaves them open to the professional embarrassment that occurs when some knowledgeable referee cites data published in the past that supports (pleasant surprise), or undermines (awful surprise), or duplicates (unpleasant surprise) what you've reported, and says, "You really should have known about this work."

... Due to their dependence on the web, students don't seem to know how to use a library effectively any more. Rather than go to the library, they go to the web, and punch in a few key words. Something comes up or something doesn't come up. And to them, that's it. If it doesn't come up, it doesn't exist.

... I can accept that a starting student who gets into a new area, wants to get into the laboratory and splash around a little. But only up to a certain point, especially when the results are not working out. You know somebody made it work out in the past, then you've got to get into the literature and dig. Yet in some cases the student still doesn't stop and check the literature. It is fundamentally inexcusable and there is no way to condone such an attitude. It's what I will call fundamentally unprofessional behavior.

... Somebody spends an enormous amount of time writing a review or a book and sometimes their great reviews are not cited because nobody knows they exist. The only way you know it's there is to spend hours in the library looking though, say, Advances in Photochemistry or Organic Photochemistry and seeing what articles are there.

... Every Saturday, if I can, I go down to the library and go through about 40-50 journals by hand. I use a spreadsheet in a lab notebook to keep track of any article that I think is, or might be, of future interest, and I make brief notations about each article.

Excerpted from, "how to skate on the edge of the paradigm ... keep from falling off", an interview with Nicholas J. Turro (who received the ACS 2004 George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education). Nick is a Caltech graduate (1963), who has been at Columbia since 1965.

The full interview is in The Spectrum (2004), 17(1), 4-9,34

- Dana L. Roth

June 21, 2004

Engineering Information Releases Enhanced ChemVillageTM

:: HOBOKEN, N.J. 18 June 2004 - Elsevier Engineering Information ( announces the latest release of the ChemVillage discovery platform, enhancing the way users access chemistry content. With focus on applied chemistry research, ChemVillage offers access to high quality text-based resources including bibliographic databases Beilstein Abstracts and Chimica, and the leading business news source covering the global chemicals industry, Chemical Business NewsBase.

This latest release enhances the research process through significant upgrades to the platform's underlying technology. The FAST search engine has been implemented to deliver standard bearing search and retrieval speeds. Intuitive functional enhancements include multiple database searching with user controlled de-duplication, personalized searches and extensive full-text linking options. Unlimited email alerting offers all users the ability to receive weekly updates on record additions in their area of interest. All upgrades enhance researcher driven discovery with tools designed to simplify chemistry research.

June 15, 2004

A Handbook of Chemoinformatics: From Data to Knowledge

:: The Handbook of Chemoinformatics: From Data to Knowledge, edited by Johann Gasteiger, is available as a four-volume set from Wiley. A very detailed review of the book is available, written by M Karthikeyan of the Digital Information Resource Center, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India.

May 28, 2004

Electrochemical Journals, AIP's Scitation, Cost-Effectiveness - Commentary by Dana Roth

:: Nearly 40 years ago, in my first library job, I overheard The Electrochemical Society (ECS) disparaged as a 'Neanderthal' society, which might explain the initial popularity of the commercially published Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry (JEC), Electrochimica Acta (ECA) and Journal of Power Sources (JPS). This characterization certainly hasn't been true for many years(1) and, with the 2003 annual costs of JEC (nearly $10K for less than 4K pages), ECA over $3.6K (for less than 4.4K pages) & JPS (over $3.3K for about 4500 pages), one is hard pressed not to ruminate on the cost/page data, for these commercially published journals, compared with the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES), which was priced at only $692 for about 5400 pages.

The transition of the electronic versions of the ECS research journals -- JES & Electrochemical and Solid State Letters (ESL)-- in 2004 to AIP's new Scitation publishing platform (formerly OJPS), is very welcome news(2). Scitation currently includes 110 journals from 18 STM publishers, providing both forward and backward reference linking from over 600,000 articles (growing at a rate of 6,000 per month). Journals can be browsed by title, publisher or subject category. A wide variety of features for individualization are available (e.g. MyTOCAlerts) and new features are scheduled for 2004. Keyword searching of SPIN + Scitation articles is available for library or personal subscribers, with keyword searching of Scitation abstracts freely available with registration. Scitation's publisher list currently includes the expected (e.g. AIP journals, etc.) as well as: APS, ASCE, ASME, ACS Geochem. Div., ECS, ICDD, Maik Nauka, SPIE, etc. Fulltext articles can be displayed, by subscribers, as PDFs, HTML or sectioned HTML.

Continue reading "Electrochemical Journals, AIP's Scitation, Cost-Effectiveness - Commentary by Dana Roth" »

May 5, 2004

PSIGate Offers RSS Feeds

:: Teri Vogel notes the following in an e-mail:

PSIGate has recently added RSS feeds for the new records they add to their collection. There are feeds for each subject (astronomy, chemistry, earth sciences, physics, policy and materials), plus a feed if you want to keep up with the latest additions regardless of subject.

PSIgate (Physical Sciences Information Gateway), part of the Resource Discovery Network, selects and annotates quality Web resources in the physical sciences.

Teri Vogel contributes to Science News, a "library weblog for the science faculty and students at Georgia State University."

May 4, 2004

Geochemical Transactions

:: The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has released Geochemical Transactions (2000-2003) for free fulltext access [via George Porter, STS-L].

Continue reading "Geochemical Transactions" »

April 20, 2004

New Products and Services

:: Wiley has released a new database called Organic Reactions:

Organic Reactions is a comprehensive database of important synthetic reactions, together with a critical discussion of the reaction and tables that organize all published examples of the topic reactions. Chapters that focus on reactions of current interest are solicited bythe board of editors from leading chemists worldwide. The publication process entails a comprehensive peer-review process, ensuring the high quality and attention to detail for which this series is noted. The database currently consists of over 75,000 reactions, and will grow to over 135,000 reactions within the next two years.

:: Elsevier Engineering Information has launched a new service called Referex Engineering:

A specialized electronic reference product, Referex Engineering draws upon hundreds of premium engineering titles to provide engineering professionals with the answers and information they require, at work and in practice.

Referex Engineering comprises three carefully crafted collections combining key sources of reference material. Content ranges from broad based engineering titles to highly specialized professional reference texts, provided an extensive and detailed base of reference material to support researchers, academics, R&D engineers, technicians and corporate engineers alike in their diverse work processes.

Each collection includes:

  • Handbooks of engineering fundamentals
  • Situational reference
  • Titles focused on technique and practice
  • How-to guides
  • Highly specialized professional information
  • Scholarly monographs
Referex Engineering is available via the industry leading Engineering Village 2 platform, making it simple to find and utilize the information you need. All Referex Engineering titles are fully searchable, enabling users to drill down into extensive reference sources in simple steps and to pinpoint the specific information required to support and progress their work. Whether fueling innovation, discovery or simply providing the information necessary to get the job done right, Referex Engineering is an essential tool for all walks of the engineering community.
The three collections available are: Chemical, Petrochemical and Process, Mechanical and Materials, and Electronics and Electrical. It includes over 300 full-text electronic reference titles in PDF format. (via: NewsBreaks Weekly News Digest.)

April 7, 2004

More on Chemistry Journals

:: Dana Roth offers this follow-up to his commentary about Helvetica Chimica Acta:

It was very refreshing to see the lead editorial, in the January 2004 issuelof the Australian Journal of Chemistry, discuss their view of the future as an Australasian Journal. Their intent is to broaden the Journal's connections to the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies and to "compete effectively with the most successful general chemistry journals around the world, such as:Speaking of the 'New Journal of Chemistry', 2004 saw the introduction of 'Perspective' articles, which feature the current interests of award-winning young scientists. For example, Christophe Copret (a 2001 CNRS medal winner) authored the first 'Perspective' on the 'Design of Metathesis Catalysts', in the January 2004 issue.

In addition, 2004 will also see the introduction of a series of 'Interface' articles, where pairs of ... scientists from complementary disciplines ... will work to reduce the "dialog of the deaf" and help "make the interactions between specialists in different fields more efficient."

The 'Interface' articles will expand on 'Opinion' papers which were introduced in 2001 and have featured articles on; 'What is Supramolecular?', 'Some Thoughts on Chemistry and Biology', and 'A Chemical Concept from the Science Citation Index Database'.

March 31, 2004

Helvetica Chimica Acta - Commentary

:: In a recent advertising insert promoting the journal, Chemistry & Biodiversity, an
apparent twig of Helvetica Chimica Acta, the claim was made that HCA was "one of the best ... full-paper primary-literature chemistry journals in the world."

This claim was based on a comparison of the 2002 ISI Impact Factor of HCA with some other journals.

  • 20.993 Chem. Rev.
  • 7.671 Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.
  • 6.201 J. Am. Chem. Soc.
  • 1.949 Helv. Chim. Acta
  • 1.750 Pure Appl. Chem.
  • 1.607 Org. Synth.
  • 1.529 Chem. Lett.
  • 1.260 Can. J. Chem.
  • 1.213 Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn.
This comparison struck me as odd for two reasons. First, because Chem. Rev., Org. Synth. and Chem. Lett. are not full-paper primary-literature chemistry journals and, more importantly, because Chem. Commun., New J. Chem. and Chem. Eur. J. were left out of the comparison.

Looking at the American Chemical Society - Committee on Professional Training's 'Journal List for Undergraduate Programs', we find that the most important 'general content' chemistry journals (with their 2002 ISI Impact Factors) are:

  • 20.99 Chemical Reviews
  • 15.90 Accounts of Chemical Research
  • 8.718 Chemical Society Reviews
  • 7.671 Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed.
  • 6.201 J. American Chemical Society
  • 4.038 Chemical Communications
with HCA, New J. Chem., and Chem. Eur. J. all in the 'Also Recommended' category.

As an aid to librarians who need to selectively subscribe to the 'general content' chemistry journals, I have listed those in the 'Also Recommended' category ranked by their 2002 ISI Impact Factors:

  • 4.238 Chemistry - A European J.
  • 2.060 New Journal of Chemistry
  • 1.949 Helvetica Chimica Acta
  • 1.750 Pure and Applied Chemistry
  • 1.529 Chemistry Letters (Japan)
  • 1.260 Canadian J. Chemistry
- contributed by Dana Roth, Caltech.

March 26, 2004

Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data - Access via NIST

:: NIST is offering access to selected articles from the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data, via its Data Gateway:

Another feature of the Gateway is a search for articles published in the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data (JPCRD). Links are provided to free, online versions of many articles. For the articles that are not available online, ordering information for reprints available for purchase is provided.
(Via an e-mail from Keith Martin, NIST, on STS-L)

Chemical Prices - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

:: Here at the U of Alberta, we have a number of chemical engineering design classes, in which students work in groups for the duration of the course, designing chemical plants and products. Most often, they require chemical prices, among many other types of information.

Chemical Market Reporter is one of the best sources for weekly (US) prices. What I've discovered, however, is that the Prices & People section of each issue, which lists said chemical prices, is indexed inconsistently in ABI Inform and Business Source Premier (EBSCO). Each Prices & People section begins with the phrase, Week Ending, with the appropriate date. Sometimes the section is indexed as "prices & people", other times it is indexed as "week ending..." (The "&" will work as a search word.)

In Business Source Premier, to find this section, you must search the phrase: (prices and people) or (week ending). Even then, the results are inconsistent. The 2004 results, for example, return the Prices & People section for v265, #s 1-6, 8-9, and 11. Why #s 7 and 10 aren't there is a mystery. ABI/Inform is worse - the most recent Prices & People column available is November 24, 2003.

The most frustrating aspect is that these two databases are advertised as full-text. It's a mystery why neither fully indexes perhaps the most heavily used section of each issue of Chemical Market Reporter. (Props to Kevin Lindstrom at UBC for addition information. Word.)

February 5, 2004

Oil Properties Database

:: I received a query from a chemical engineering student yesterday, who was looking for assay information on a grade of oil called Lloydminster blend. The information he had suggested that a series of assay articles had appeared in Oil & Gas Journal in 1983. Searches through Ei Compendex, Chem Abs, Petroleum Abs, and GeoRef returned no hits.

A web search, however, led me to the web site of the Environment Technology Centre of Environment Canada. The ETC provides access to a number of databases and software, including Spills Technology Databases. One of these is the Oil Properties Database, which lists various properties of 450 crude oil and oil products, such as Sulphur (weight %), API Gravity, Flash Point (C), Density (g/mL), Dynamic Viscosity (mPas or cP), Hydrocarbon Groups (weight %), Oil/Salt Water Interfacial Tension (mN/m or dynes/cm), and many others.

A couple of drawbacks: you are allowed only 15 results per day per I.P. address, but this is not mentioned on the site, until you try for your 16th result! Also, data is referenced with a name/title and year, but there is no bibliography or explanation of the references, so that you can locate them afterwards. Still, the data is good, and the student advised that the data he required was there, and that additional data on the oil was of value to him as well.

January 7, 2004

ACS President Weighs In On Soaring Journal Prices and Open Access

:: ACS President Charles P Casey is featured in the 5 Jan 2004 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. His column, Challenges for Chemists, Chemistry, and ACS, addresses a number of issues, including rising costs of journals, and the open access movement:

    I think that the solution to soaring library costs does not lie with open-access publishing but rather with electronic journals from scientific societies that are made available at reasonable costs. The solution will also require scientists to exert pressure on commercial publishers. The time has come for chemists who are editors or editorial board members of commercial journals to use their considerable influence to strongly urge publishers to greatly reduce their prices. I believe it is also time for chemists to consider whether they will continue to support exorbitantly priced commercial journals by serving as editors, editorial board members, authors, and referees!

December 11, 2003

b/ITE, Hazardous Chemical Db

:: The latest issue (Nov/Dec 03) of b/ITE, the bulletin of the Information Technology Division of SLA, has appeared, and has a nifty section on RSS.

:: Two publications, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, and International Resources Guide to Hazardous Chemicals, have been combined to create a new online product: Sittig's Hazardous Chemicals Database. The one downside is that it seems to be available on CD-ROM only. Cost is $395US until Dec 31, 2003, and $495US afterwards.

December 8, 2003

Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 84th ed - Review of the online version

Courtesy of Dana Roth at CalTech, a review of the new online version of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics:

    - Substance search has 5 pre-selected search fields: name (with left/right truncation), MF (Hill order), CAS RN, common formula (e.g. NaCl), and/or MW (value or range*). Each value has a pull down menu (=,>,<, etc.) and a linked 'hints' file.
    - Increase in number of interactive tables from 46 to 63. Once the data is displayed, additional options are available (sort, display structure, export table to Excel, etc.)
    - Improved table manipulation - access speeds improved, left-hand column lockable for easier viewing
As a reminder, the 84th edition, both print and web versions, include the following important additions:
    - Completely revised, reformatted and enhanced Physical Constants of Organic Compounds table. The 11,000 compounds have been selected on the basis of their importance in research, teaching, industrial applications, and health/safety considerations. Structure diagrams have been redrawn and physical constant values have been updated with results from recent literature.
    - Chemical carcinogens - are now with updated data from the recent NTP 10th Report on Carcinogens
    - Critical Constants table - expanded and updated values of Tc, Pc and Vc, as well as Tb for 858 fluids. These parameters are widely used as input to various estimation schemes. Literature references have been added.
    - Other refinements and new topics include: Properties of Refrigerants, Fermi Energy and Related Properties of Metals, Flame and Bead tests, Density of ethanol-water mixtures, Interstellar Molecules, Directory of Physical and Chemical Data Sources, Ionization Potentials of Atoms and Neutron Cross Sections.
*In a search for compounds with a particular MW range, entries appear on the hit list even though the table in the entry does not have a column for molecular weight. This is because a search on a MW range first retrieves all compounds with MW in that range. The hit list that is generated then includes all tables in which one of those compounds appears, regardless of whether there is an MW column in the table. The intention here is to allow Boolean searches in which MW is one of the parameters.

As a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, I would very much appreciate your suggestions regarding "desired features and functionality" as well as any other concerns about its content and functionality.

For those of you with access to the web version, please contact the CRC helpdesk directly if you experience any access problems.

Dana L. Roth
Millikan Library / Caltech 1-32
1200 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91125
626-395-6423 fax 626-792-7540

Our thanks to Dana for submitting this review for STLQ.

December 5, 2003

Max Planck Research Awards 2003 Presented

:: "As part of the efforts to promote international cooperation in science, the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation presented the Max Planck Research Award for 2003 on November 26, 2003 at 5:30 PM to 12 scientists and researchers in an award ceremony at Harnack-Haus in Berlin-Dahlem. Each award is endowed with EUR 125,000 and gives highly qualified German and foreign scientists and researchers the opportunity to initiate, deepen, or expand mutual projects with the goal of achieving maximum scientific performance on the international scene."

November 18, 2003

Searching SciFinder Scholar with CAS Registry Numbers

:: We are new to SciFinder Scholar at the University of Alberta. of the Millikan Library at CalTech, in Pasadena CA, has been using it for some time, and shares his thoughts on a specific type of search using the product:

    While SciFinder Scholar is an enormous convenience, it can be a little misleading.

    I had a user who was looking for analytical techniques for the determination of Aurintricarboxylic Acid or any of its salts, and he had a registry number 569-58-4 (which turned out to be for the tri-ammonium salt).

    Retrieving the REG File record for 569-58-4, listed a variety of synonyms including: Aurintricarboxylic acid triammonium salt and Triammonium aurintricarboxylate

    Searching for 'Aurintricarboxylic', as a substance identifier which retrieves three compounds with references (the Barium and ammonium salts, and the free acid)

    Continue reading "Searching SciFinder Scholar with CAS Registry Numbers" »