Drugs and OpenAccess

Sigfrid Lundberg's Stuff 2010-03-10

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In a recent article Theresa Velden & Carl Lagoze Communicating chemistry, Nature Chemistry 1, 673-678 (2009) discusses how traditions and attitudes concerning IPR affect data sharing and how that in turn affects scientists propensities to use web 2.0 tools and web of data technologies.

They address the problem why chemists, as opposed to (say) physicists and molecular biologists are late adopters of Web 2.0 and OpenAccess. These two are entirely different entities. The former is a set of technologies and the second is a business model for the publishing industry. Nevertheless, they are related.

Chemistry is a bit different

Chemical and pharmaceutical industry are large employers of chemists. Velden & Lagoze mentions that ACS has 155000 members. Of them 62% works within industry. As a comparison, American Physical Society has 47189 members (year 2009) but only about 20% of them work within industry. On the other hand, the same US source claims that 56% of all physics PhDs worked in industry.

I don't think that the proportion of chemists working within industry is high compared with people having training in engineering or computer science. However, chemistry should be compared with the other sciences not with engineering. Here chemistry appears to be a bit different in comparison with physics or earth and life sciences.

Chemistry is the science where a the largest proportion of all researchers just consume scientific publication, but not contribute. It should, conclude Velden & Lagoze, not conclude anyone that IPR thinking and secrecy more common within chemistry than elsewhere.

Chemistry has fewer OpenAccess journals than most other part of science, and chemists are less interested in social media kind of e-science than are most other branches.


In spite of this, there are some really interesting developments coming from chemistry. Velden & Lagoze mentions

a standardized chemical mark-up language, a computable identifier for organic molecules (the IUPAC international chemical identifier, or InChI), open-source tools for the manipulation and management of chemical information6, and the use of free, hosted Web 2.0 services to support 'open-notebook science'

This open lab notebook is interesting. It is fascinating to see how an e-science infrastructure makes use of off-the shelf wiki and blog software and combine these with storage in Google apps and communicates via syndication feeds.


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My name is Sigfrid Lundberg. The stuff I publish here may, or may not, be of interest for anyone else.

On this site there is material on photography, music, literature and other stuff I enjoy in life. However, most of it is related to my profession as an Internet programmer and software developer within the area of digital libraries. I have been that at the Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen (Denmark) and, before that, Lund university library (Sweden).

The content here does not reflect the views of my employers. They are now all past employers, since I retired 1 May 2023.

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