BlogSyn – The Ongoing Pursuit of Blogging Chemical Reactions

21 Jan

There is a new “synthetic blog” online..this one is Blog Syn. The site has a declared focus listed as “….a new chemical literature review site. We
don’t just discuss the methods, we put them to the test!” This joins the other synthetic chemistry blogs such as TotallySynthetic and OrgPrepDaily. There are likely MANY others!!! What would be ideal is if these were to be aggregated in some way. For sure they are federated…you can consider that Google does that for you. But they are heterogeneous in format, very different styles and, in terms of the contribution to a contributors career, they may have less traffic on a blog than on a platform designed for the publication of syntheses.

Prior to joining RSC those of us running the ChemSpider website discussed setting up an environment for people to publish their syntheses. ChemSpider for compounds and ChemSpider “Reactions” for reactions. We chatted about it looking like a blog. We never started the project though as there were enough things to do. What we did release was the ChemSpider Journal of Chemistry that was more of an online journal.

When RSC acquired ChemSpider and we showed up in Glasgow for our first conference we discuss at that conference our old idea of a reactions type blog. What we talked about was that it would be a place to expose chemical reactions, for online comments and feedback and a place for a reaction to be DOI’ed and therefore of value to a resume. Since ChemSpider was very capable we knew there was a way to integrate spectral data, movies and other multimedia. We started considering the transfer of aspects of the ChemSpider journal of chemistry into a synthetic reaction platform. We realized that what we were trying to do had already been achieved by the SyntheticPages group. We chatted with the scientists involved with that platform and decided it would be best to bring our efforts together. And so we did….

The result is ChemSpider SyntheticPages (CSSP). The story of CSSP is described here in a discussion with Peter Scott of the CSSP Editorial Board.

CSSP is well established. Some of the authors have almost 90,000 page views. Spectra are embedded directly from ChemSpider into the page and chemicals are marked up and linked out to the relevant pages on ChemSpider. People are willingly adding their comments. The authors are DOI’ed. The platform has been around almost 10 years at this time…using SyntheticPages as the original seed set and adding articles directly to CSSP later. We are averaging < 10 articles a month though! Mostly that is because people do not know what it is. Last week I gave a talk in the UK and most people in the room have not heard of CSSP. But there it is…likely a near ideal platform for publishing syntheses online. We are recognizing contributors at present with labcoats as part of our initial rewards and recognition program and hope that recognition will encourage further participation.

We encourage you to look at platforms such as Blog Syn as well as CSSP and consider contributing your syntheses to these online platforms. They can be valuable hosts for your data. There will likely be more that show up as chemists recognize the value of exposing their data online!  It would be great if you consider fitting your synthesis into the homogenizing template of CSSP even if you publish elsewhere. It makes for a cleaner micropublishing platform overall we find. In any case…continue your online synthesis exposure!!!!


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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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in ChemSpider Syntheses, ChemSpider SyntheticPages


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