ScientistsDB – A wiki for scientists, about scientists, by scientists

01 Jan
ScientistsDB – A wiki for scientists, about scientists, by scientists

Join ScientistsDB

Recently I wrote about the issues of notability for scientists versus porn stars. It seemed to kick off quite a discussion…40 comments, 100 Tweets, comments off my blog on other people’s sites. It got mentioned on Wikipedia Signpost..and I take that as a compliment! There are some comments made on various Wikipedia pages [for example, 1]. Not everyone agreed with what I had to say and I received some GOOD guidance and input about how to improve the articles on Wikipedia that I had been writing. There were some supporting comments about how it was appropriate for me to write about people I know (in regards to the Conflict of Interest on Wikipedia).

When I originally wrote the post I was in a particularly “ranting” type of mood based on a few other things going on in regards to other systems, especially in regards to who makes final decisions. In retrospect some of the issues I blogged about had been brought up in various forms by other people over the years and in some ways my comments were “nothing new”. However, it is clear that the exposure the post got did resonate with a number of people.


I have sat with a number of friends and chatted, over a “cool glass of water” (or more), and chatted about exposure for scientists in general. We chatted about Wikipedia articles, about LinkedIn as a networking site for professionals, about the new systems such as ProSkore, and whether Klout would persist as a system for measuring influence.

Sean Ekins and I have introduced two wikis to the community…one for Scientific Mobile Apps and one for Scientific Databases. One addition to the family of scientific wikis that makes sense, based on the recent experiences with Wikipedia and the discussions around notability guidelines for scientists, is the new wiki ScientistsDB.

This wiki is for ANY scientist to have a wiki page about them online. We have no notability guidelines in place, and hopefully will not need them. Time will tell.  The hope is that scientists will contribute their own articles, that the community will also contribute/edit/expand and that ultimately, when the article is in good enough shape, it might be used as the source of an article on Wikipedia. There it can be challenged, discussed, edited and moved through all of the potential phases of a Wikipedia article before it is accepted. We believe that all scientists are entitled to a presence that ScientistsDB can enable. As the data are gathered then we have the possibility of starting to form network maps, relationships and connections that would have been unavailable before. We have a way to introduce scientists working in the same domain, connecting people working on the same classes of compounds, diseases, genes, etc. This is all part of a potential future…for now the Wikipedia articles for scientists (almost 50,000 of them) have been harvested and kept categorized according to Wikipedia categories and all scientists are welcomed to add their own articles. All content is licensed according to CC-BY-SA 3.0.

For now we are starting to get articles. A good model article is from Alex Clark.

We look forward to your thoughts and comments!


About tony

Antony (Tony) J. Williams received his BSc in 1985 from the University of Liverpool (UK) and PhD in 1988 from the University of London (UK). His PhD research interests were in studying the effects of high pressure on molecular motions within lubricant related systems using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. He moved to Ottawa, Canada to work for the National Research Council performing fundamental research on the electron paramagnetic resonance of radicals trapped in single crystals. Following his postdoctoral position he became the NMR Facility Manager for Ottawa University. Tony joined the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York as their NMR Technology Leader. He led the laboratory to develop quality control across multiple spectroscopy labs and helped establish walk-up laboratories providing NMR, LC-MS and other forms of spectroscopy to hundreds of chemists across multiple sites. This included the delivery of spectroscopic data to the desktop, automated processing and his initial interests in computer-assisted structure elucidation (CASE) systems. He also worked with a team to develop the worlds’ first web-based LIMS system, WIMS, capable of allowing chemical structure searching and spectral display. With his developing cheminformatic skills and passion for data management he left corporate America to join a small start-up company working out of Toronto, Canada. He joined ACD/Labs as their NMR Product Manager and various roles, including Chief Science Officer, during his 10 years with the company. His responsibilities included managing over 50 products at one time prior to developing a product management team, managing sales, marketing, technical support and technical services. ACD/Labs was one of Canada’s Fast 50 Tech Companies, and Forbes Fast 500 companies in 2001. His primary passions during his tenure with ACD/Labs was the continued adoption of web-based technologies and developing automated structure verification and elucidation platforms. While at ACD/Labs he suggested the possibility of developing a public resource for chemists attempting to integrate internet available chemical data. He finally pursued this vision with some close friends as a hobby project in the evenings and the result was the ChemSpider database ( Even while running out of a basement on hand built servers the website developed a large community following that eventually culminated in the acquisition of the website by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Tony joined the organization, together with some of the other ChemSpider team, and became their Vice President of Strategic Development. At RSC he continued to develop cheminformatics tools, specifically ChemSpider, and was the technical lead for the chemistry aspects of the Open PHACTS project (, a project focused on the delivery of open data, open source and open systems to support the pharmaceutical sciences. He was also the technical lead for the UK National Chemical Database Service ( and the RSC lead for the PharmaSea project ( attempting to identify novel natural products from the ocean. He left RSC in 2015 to become a Computational Chemist in the National Center of Computational Toxicology at the Environmental Protection Agency where he is bringing his skills to bear working with a team on the delivery of a new software architecture for the management and delivery of data, algorithms and visualization tools. The “Chemistry Dashboard” was released on April 1st, no fooling, at, and provides access to over 700,000 chemicals, experimental and predicted properties and a developing link network to support the environmental sciences. Tony remains passionate about computer-assisted structure elucidation and verification approaches and continues to publish in this area. He is also passionate about teaching scientists to benefit from the developing array of social networking tools for scientists and is known as the ChemConnector on the networks. Over the years he has had adjunct roles at a number of institutions and presently enjoys working with scientists at both UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University. He is widely published with over 200 papers and book chapters and was the recipient of the Jim Gray Award for eScience in 2012. In 2016 he was awarded the North Carolina ACS Distinguished Speaker Award.

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4 Responses to ScientistsDB – A wiki for scientists, about scientists, by scientists

  1. delayed2sleep

    January 2, 2012 at 2:09 am

    You wrote: “…and that ultimately, when the article is in good enough shape, it might be used as the source of an article on Wikipedia.”

    No, it won’t be a source. Each claim in an article must be sourced to a RS (reliable source). So it would be wise to gather such sources for your articles from the start.

  2. Heather Etchevers

    January 2, 2012 at 6:09 am

    Interesting initiative. My employer, the French equivalent of the National Institutes of Health in the US, also recognized this lack of visibility. They encouraged all its scientists to write “mini CVs” and to have them up in a standardized format on the trans-institutional Aviesan website, searchable, with a nice area to say what one wants. The result rather resembled Alex Clark’s article. (Well, you can judge for yourself with

    But I am dismayed to see that the Aviesan’s promised visibility on Google, has not been forthcoming. (At least it fulfilled the “approved headshot and CV” criteria.) Hopefully your wiki can address that. Of course scientists would like to have at least one standard professional reference to themselves, perhaps with a “verified/approved” status like is done on Twitter for famous people, because in a wiki someone else can create the entry for many people. Imagine a department secretary doing it in an ideal world for all the department! The record also needs to be found with a casual search.

    “We believe that all scientists are entitled to a presence that ScientistsDB can enable” – I believe this can work. An OpenWetWare wiki page I set up a number of years ago for my lab, with a personal CV page that I haven’t kept up as I should, still comes up high in the search engine rankings. My point is that in order to enable such a presence, it needs to be easily found.

    • tony

      January 2, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Thanks for pointing me to that site. it’s a very good example of what could happen. CVs for scientists in the world. The difference is that we would expect them to be open rather than locked down by the legal languag:

      I absolutely agree that another DB with content that cannot be found is of little value. I believe that linking in to ORCID identifiers would help a lot also.

      It would be good to know whether the Aviesan content could be exported in a standard format that could then be reimported into ScientistsDB…


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