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Micropublishing of 200 words isn’t new but the Journal of Brief Ideas is

24 Feb

Nature recently posted about a Journal that Publishes 200 Word Articles. The reporter commented “it is the latest online journal promises to bring a little brevity to science by accepting submissions of 200 words or less”. Initially I thought it was a Nature experiment but it isn’t. The intention around this new Journal of Brief Ideas is outlined here : http://beta.briefideas.org/about.

Some of the comments on the Nature post are interesting. This one from Bob Buntrock, who I know well from the Chemical Information list server probably represents a large number of people:

“200 words is not even a good abstract in most cases. Sop to the Twitter crowd. Since I do not nor plan to use social media for scientific communication, I’ll never use it and I’ll tend not to respect it.”

Personally, I BELIEVE in micropublishing. That’s why when I joined RSC over 5 years ago and we unveiled ChemSpider at our first conference in Glasgow the NEW idea that Valery Tkachenko and I pitched was to take advantage of our knowledge of cheminformatics, chemical data handling in ChemSpider and the increasing activities in blogging and microblogging and apply them to something called “ChemSpider Syntheses”. The ChemSpider Journal of Chemistry had been run as an experiment already, and is still online. We had already shown that Open Access articles such as those from MDPI Molecules could be hosted in the ChemMantis platform and marked up with interactive chemical widgets. We were already aware of the great work done by the SyntheticPages group and we chose to collaborate to create ChemSpider SyntheticPages (CSSP) as announced here.

Since then CSSP has accepted many articles and became the host of all of the Olympicene synthetic steps. The story of Olympicene is in this YouTube video and the list of synthetic steps is here. Peter Scott has told his story about CSSP and submissions have continued.

I took a look at some of these articles and if I exclude the Title, data such as NMR list of shifts and Chemicals Used then MANY ChemSpider SyntheticPages articles are about 200-250 words (i.e. the Procedure and the Authors Comments). All articles submitted to CSSP go through a fairly light review process from one of the editorial team, generally in about 24 hours, then are published and the community can comment on them – open peer review.

I also believe in the possibilities associated with Nanopublishing and nanopublications and there is work afoot to unveil some of these from text-mining efforts.

While our micropublishing efforts are focused on chemistry and syntheses specifically I believe there are other opportunities. Certainly Figshare, Slideshare and Dryad can all host micropublications already. The efforts of the Journal of Brief Ideas is a new approach and an experiment worth watching!  Good luck to them!

 

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 (www.chemspider.com). 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 (http://www.openphacts.org), 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 (http://cds.rsc.org/) and the RSC lead for the PharmaSea project (http://www.pharma-sea.eu/) 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 https://comptox.epa.gov, 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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