CHEM 184/284 (Chemical Literature) - Huber - Winter 2022: Lecture 6

A two-credit course in the techniques and tools for effective searching the literature of chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering and related fields.

Lecture 6: Primary Literature, Part I: Journals, Copyright, Open Access, Repositories, Preprints

Primary Literature: Publication of Information

  • Publication is, as the name implies, the making public of information, by whatever means -- oral, printed or electronic.
  • Publication has become a means not only for disseminating information, but also a tool for evaluating a scholar's performance: "Publish or perish."

Types of Publication

The major forms of primary scientific publication include:

  • Journals
  • Electronic Preprints
  • Conference Papers
  • Patents
  • Dissertations
  • Technical Reports

Scientific Journals

The scientific journal was invented in the mid-1600's as a means of speeding scholarly communication: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. As science grew, so did the volume of literature and the specialization of journals. Today there are over 100,000 scientific journals.

Types of Journals - Scope

Journals vary widely in degree of specialization, from

Types of Journals - Type of Article

Journals vary in types of articles:

  • News and reviews: Science News; Chemical & Engineering News
    These magazines specialize in short summaries of "hot" current research, usually in language aimed at the non-specialist, often written by professional journalists (with some scientific background) rather than by professional scientists. News articles and review articles are secondary literature, not primary literature, but are very valuable for alerting and providing background for scholarly researchers as well as the general public.
  • Major reviews: Accounts of Chemical Research; ChemSocRev
  • These journals specialize in longer articles summarizing the research in a particular field, usually over a specified chronological range. These are generally written by scientists who are expert in the field.
  • Major original papers: Dalton Transactions; Tetrahedron
    These journals (the majority of scholarly journals) carry full-length articles on original research.
  • Brief communications: Organic Letters, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
    Some journals specialize in rapid publication of short announcements of research results.
  • Mixtures of the above: Science; Nature

Structure of a Journal Article

Electronic Journals vs. Print Journals

  • Electronic journals had their origins as publicly accessible versions of the computer files used in publishing the print versions of the journals. Gradually, they have taken on a life of their own. Some electronic journals have no print counterpart at all. Many traditional journals now treat the electronic form as the "definitive" version, and the print as a subsidiary publication. As more electronic journals incorporate information in forms impossible in print (audio, video, manipulable data files, etc.), this trend is bound to continue. Some journals have dropped print publication altogether in recent years.
  • Most electronic journals began in the mid-1990's or later, so it is still the case that some journals have little or no content from earlier years. However, this is now rare, at least for major science journals, as more and more journal backfiles are being made available in electronic form, such as Physical Review and Journal of the American Chemical Society. An organization called JSTOR provides backfiles from wide range of journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and Science.
  • Today, virtually every STEM journal is published primarily as an electronic journal, and an increasing number are availble only in electronic form. Some journals persist in print strongly, such as Nature and Science, encouraging individual print subscription.
  • Note that some publishers (e.g. Elsevier and the American Chemical Society) integrate the back files with the current issues, but a few have separate backfile operations. In nearly all cases, if backfiles have been digitized "after the fact", access must be purchased separately from current subscriptions.
  • Note that there is not a lot of standardization of features or interfaces for electronic journals. Each publisher has its own approach and there is considerable competition to provide new bells and whistles. One that is provoking cooperation among journal publishers is cross-reference linking. Many e-journals let you jump from a cited article reference in one paper to the full text of the cited article. There may also be links to databases.
  • Some electronic versions of traditional journals publish on the Web before the print issue apppears. See for example, the Articles ASAP section of Inorganic Chemistry online. This early publication has had a significant impact on publication priority for patent searching. Note that articles will now list not only the date of print publication, but the date the article first appeared on the Web, for purposes of establlshing publishing priority.
  • An increasing number of online journals have some form of alerting service, which allows the user to receive e-mail notice when articles fitting a user-defined set of criteria appear online. Some alert to new articles or new issues of particular journals, some allow you to create alerts for new articles which cite a particular articl, while still others allow the user to search a journal or journals for a particular topic, such as Elsevier ScienceDirect. In most cases, to use the alerting service, you must register with the journal publisher, creating a personal account. One of the more recent developments are journals with RSS feeds to disseminate selected information to interested scientists.
  • Every peer-reviewed journal will have some instructions to prospective authors on how to submit manuscripts, what format(s) to use, how to cite references, etc. In the print arena, these instructions were usually published in the first issue of each volume. In the electronic arena, there is usually a link on the journal homepage permanently available with the latest version of the "instructions to authors". Unsurprisingly, there is no standardizaiton of how this section is named, or where on the page it will appear, from one publisher to the next.
  • Many electronic ournals will provide a variety of links to additional relevant material. Besides links to supporting information, you may find links from the article's references to the full text online, or to papers which cite the article, or to the article's record in indexing databases (such as PubMed, or Scopus). Still others provide links from terms or substances mentioned in the article to additional information. For a listing of author instructions page from many major publishers, see:  Instruction for Authors in the Introduction to Publisher guide.
  • An increasing number of journals facilitate social networking, either with in-house blogs, etc., or by making it easy to share favorite references..
  • Publishers of electronic journals are experimenting with more new features to enhance the user's experience (and, of course, to lure subscribers and authors away from competitive journals.)  Many journals now display article metrics - measures of the "impact" of the article along with the article. See Lectures 9 and 17 for more discussion of metrics in scholarly publishing.
  • While maintaining a large, sophisticated e-journal site is not cheap, it is possible to publish relatively inexpensively on the Web. This has lead to such phenomena as Web-only journals (see: Directory of Open Access Journals below), and to free distribution of some journals on the Web, where the publisher wishes to obtain higher visibility for the science presented therein. See, for example, SciELO at http://www.scielo.org for Latin American journals or J-STAGE at http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/-char/en for Japanese journals. However, Web-only journals in chemistry initially met with limited success. For example, the Internet Journal of Chemistry ended its acceptance of new papers and now exists only as an archive. Over the course of its existence, the number of articles published per year declined steadily from 38 in 1998 to 4 in 2004. But see the discussion of Open Access below.

Peer Review

  • The majority of scientific journals publish peer-reviewed articles, also called refereed articles.
  • In these journals, the editor sends submitted articles out to persons expert in the field of the article.
  • The referee comments on the article and the research it presents.
  • The editor then decides whether to accept the article as is, send it back to the author for revision, or reject it outright.
  • Reviewing helps uphold scientific standards, but it adds to the delay between research and publication -- often a year between submission and publication.
  • Traditionally, reviewing is anonymous, that is, the editor removes the author's name from the article when it is sent to the reviewers, and removes the reviewer's name from the comments sent to the authors. This is technically referred to as double anonymous (or double-blind) peer review. However, there has been some argument for decades now that open reviewing, that is, reviewing where the authors can see the reviewer's comments and know who is making them, would be superior. It has not extensively caught on, but there is some movement, especially in new, electronic-only journals, toward naming the referees, and even posting the referee comments with the article. This is not yet widespread, however. ACS Publications recently launched an experiment in open reviewing (which they call transparent reviewing) in two of their journals, ACS Central Science and Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.  For more information, see: this  news release.
  • It is traditionally the case that authors may submit a paper to only one journal at a time. If it is rejected at the first journal, then they may resubmit it elsewhere. Many journals will not accept a paper if it has appeared in widely-available form previously. Presentation at a conference is OK, but pre-distribution on the Web is not. This rule of thumb is changing in some cases where electronic preprints have become commonplace (most notably in physics) but not everywhere.
  • Note that electronic processing methods, such as e-mail of manuscripts between authors, editors and referees is speeding up the process.
  • For further discussion of classic peer review, you might be interested in this collection of essays by noted information scientist, Eugene Garfield. ACS Publications has a free online course for article reviewers: ACS Reviewer Lab at https://www.acsreviewerlab.org/
  • Recently, fueled by the open access movement, and the growth of science-related social media, there have been some efforts made in open peer review and post-publication peer review.  The concept here is that classic peer review can be, at least in part, replaced by comments and critiques of publications published either within the journal itself, or in open forums of various kinds.  This concept is linked to the concept of altmetrics, which will be discussed further in a later lecture.  It so far has not made great inroads in chemistry, but is worth keeping an eye on.
  • For more information on peer review, see: Introduction to Publishing for Grads and Pos-Docs: Peer Review at https://ucsb.libapps.com/libguides/admin_c.php?g=1085941&p=7918321

Copyright (Intellectual Property, Part I)

Intellectual property is the legal concept that one can own the products of one's intellectual labor, such as inventions, prose, poetry and so forth. By enacting intellectual property law, governments can provide inventors, authors and artists with a legal monopoly to profit from their works. In American law, intellectual property is of four types:

  • Copyrights apply to the expression of an idea -- literature, art, music...or software. The author of a book, or the painter of a painting, or the writer or performer of a song owns that expression of an idea, and under the law of the United States (and most other countries) has the right to control how that work is copied by others.
  • Trademarks and Service Marks cover the recognizable symbols of a company, organization or product. The holder of a trademark has the exclusive right to use that word, phrase or image to market a specific type of product in the country or state which issued the trademark. Service marks are the equivalent for services as opposed to material products.
  • Patents cover tangible, useful inventions. (More about patents in the next lecture!)
  • Trade secrets are undisclosed inventions; theft is illegal, but...there is nothing to prevent a competitor from "reverse engineering" the product.

The details of copyright law in the United States are complex, but here are some important concepts:

  • Copyright applies to the tangible expression of an idea. You cannot copyright a fundamental concept of science, but you can copyright the paper which publishes its discovery. If I make extemporaneous remarks in front of a class, they are not copyrighted, but these lecture notes are copyrighted.
  • Under U.S. law, you do not need to register your book, artwork, etc. to gain copyright protection. As soon as you set down your idea in tangible form, it is copyrighted. However, copyright notices and registration can affect what legal recourse you have if someone infringes your copyright.
  • Copyright is for a finite length of time. However, Congress can change the length of copyright, and, in recent years, has expanded it considerably, reflecting both the increasing lifespans of authors and their heirs, and the desire of corporations to retain copyrights for longer and longer periods. For example: Under old copyright law, the first appearances of Mickey Mouse would no longer be exclusively owned by the Disney Co....but Disney lobbied for an extension of copyright and got it (not just for themselves.) Once a work is no longer under copyright,is is said to be in public domain, and anyone can use it freely.
  • Copyright means that you own the right to determine how your "work" will be reproduced, distributed or performed, as well as the creation of derivative works.. You can license or assign the copyright to others, either in part or whole, exclusively or non-exclusively, for a definite or indefinite length of time. Note that most journal publishers require authors to completely transfer the copyright to the publisher. See, however, the discussion of this under open access below. Work performed while in the employ of another (e.g. the University of California) may have the copyright automatically assigned to the employer, depending on the person's contract. This case is referred to as work for hire.
  • The doctrine of "fair use" allows limited copying of materials without prior permission, for educational purposes and criticism. Interlibrary loan of articles is governed by fair use doctrine, for example. So, you can copy a journal article for your own use, but if you make 500 copies for the reader for your giant lecture class, you are infringing copyright and in violation of the law, unless you get permission from the copyright owner (usually by paying the appropriate fee.) Fair use in the electronic arena (music, video, etc.) is under heavy attack from publishers in those areas (recording companies, movie studios.)
  • Another major battle of interest to scholars and researchers is the fight over the Google Book Search project (see http://books.google.com/. Google is partnering with major libraries to digitize their holdings. They are digitizing copyrighted as well as public domain works, with their position being that the copyrighted works will not be made available in full text...only indexed for search purposes. Nonetheless, many publishers are suspicious. Also, some authors and governments in the non-English speaking world are very wary of Google becoming the dominant force in online full text, saying it will be biased in favor of English language works, and are starting their own mass digitization projects. Another such project is HathiTrust , which is currently making some copyrighted materials which the UC libraries own in print available, one user at a time, to UC users as a temporary replacement for the pinrt copies during the COVID-19 shutdown. Note that the print copies may not be circulated while the scanned versions are being made available - this is a questino of fair use.
  • Many authors and other creators now publish their works with explicit statements allowing certain types of use freely, without releasing the work into public domain. For examples of this kind of "rights" statement see Creative Commons at http://creativecommons.org/. (You may have noticed that these lecture notes have a Creative Commons license statement on each page!) Some open access journals require a Creative Commons license as their substitute to author transfer of copyright.
  • Note that copyright is an important concept for you both as a user of published research and as a producer of published research. Traditionally, scientific journals have required authors to transfer copyright of their articles to the publisher as a condition of publication. However, as interest in "open access" (see below) grows, more authors are demanding that they retain their copyrights, and some publishers are acceeding to their wishes.
  • Note that plagiarism - the theft of someone else's ideas or their expression - is an ethical issue separate and distinct from copyright. Just because a work is in the public domain, or in some other way open access, does not mean that it is allowable for you to use their ideas and expressions without proper credit. The electronic environment of the Internet has made plagiarism both easier to commit and easier to catch.

For additional information about copyright for chemists, see:

Open Access: The Hottest Issue in Scientific Publishing

  • A hot discussion is raging at the moment among scientists, funding agencies, publishers and information professionals over who should pay for access to scientific information. Many now argue that the institutions and agencies which pay for the research which goes into scientific journals should not have to pay again for access to the published results of that research. Some now advocate the notion of open access -- the idea that scientific research should be made public without cost to its readers. Even among its strongest advocates, the best method of achieving open access is controversial.
  • The two principal broad approaches proposed for open access are:
    • open access journals -- Continue the traditional journal structure, but support the journals through some means other than subscription fees, usually involving some fee charged to the authors or their institutions.  Journals which charge author fees are sometimes referred to as gold open access.  Those which do not are sometimes referred to as platinum open access.
    • self-archiving -- Make authors, or their employers (universities, corporations, etc.) provide online repositories (see below) of articles, either as preprints or as reprints following journal publication. ?Self-archiving is sometimes referred to as green open access.
  • In the former case, it is usually proposed that the cost of publication be shifted from the subscriber to the authors of the papers, who, in turn, will pass the costs on to their institutions or funding agencies. Some publishers have adopted this approach, though there is much controversy as to what a fair price to charge authors is, or even whether this will stifle publication by authors from less-wealthy institutions. BioMed Central at https://www.biomedcentral.com/ is a publishing service established in recent years which has launched over 100 new titles, mainly in biomedicine, and mainly open access. They charge authors from $1400 to $2900 per article depending on the journal; however, institutions can buy "memberships" in BioMed Central that allow their researchers to publish without individual charges. Academic institutional memberships range from $1725 to $8625 per year depending on the size of the institution. The University of California is a member institution. BioMed Central is now owned by Springer Nature.
  • Some journals publish all articles as open access; see, for example, Nature Communications or Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry. Others allow the authors to choose whether they wish to publish open access (with an author's fee) or subscription access only (no author's fee).  Such journals are frequently referred to as hybrid journals.  The American Chemical Society has a multi-tiered system called ACS Authors Choice (http://pubs.acs.org/page/policy/authorchoice/index.html), which allows authors to select basic open access, open access with Creative Commons licensing, or subscription access, and to claim discounts on authors fees based on their institution and personal membership in the ACS.
  • For a listing of full open-access journals, which have Creative Commons licensing for authors, see the Directory of Opean Access Journals (DOAJ) at https://doaj.org/
  • One undesirable side effect of the "author charge" model of open access is the appearance of predatory publishers.  These are "fly-by-night" publishers who create journals solely to collect author fees from unsuspecting authors. They have minimal editorial, or peer review standards, the better to lure in authors whose papers have been rejected elsewhere.  DOAJ tries to screen out predatory publishers, and most indexing services avoid indexing their articles.  However, Google and other web search engines do not, and so, for example, a Google Scholar search on a topic may pull up articles of dubious quality from even more dubious journals.  A librarian named Jeffrey Beall made it his mission to uncover predatory publishers, but he is no longer actively doning so.  His list is archived at this Beall's List site at hhttps://beallslist.net/, along with links to other useful lists of shady or fraudulent publishers. For a list by journal title, see: List of Predatory Journals at https://predatoryjournals.com/journals/​
  • Some journals have tried to compromise by making their backfiles available free of charge, while continuing to charge subscription fees for the most recent issues; see, for example, PubMed Central at http://www.pubmedcentral.org, or the list of free content from HighWire Press at http://highwire.stanford.edu/lists/freeart.dtl
  • Advocates of self-archiving claim that their alternative is less expensive and point to the success of arXiv (see below), which has not apparently damaged the major physics journals. However, without some central authority dictating archiving standards, there are serious questions about the stability and ease of access of such archives. The U.S. National Institutes of Health now mandates that NIH funded research should be deposited in a publicly accessible archive. See the Frequently Asked Questions page at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/FAQ.htm for the current policy. Other funding agencies, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and some private foundations, have adopted similar policies.
  • Some publishers of traditional journals are very leery of the open access concept, and not just the large commercial publishers. The American Chemical Society, for example, has moved slowly in the direction of open access, for fear that a mistake in the economic model chosen could cripple the ACS journal publication arm, whose revenues provide a large fraction of the operating budget of the society as a whole. Currently, ACS Publications offers "Author's Choice" open access for most of its journals.  Two are exclusively open access: ACS Omega, and ACS Central Science.  The latter is highly selective in accepting aticles, butc harges no author fees. The also have "Editor's Choice" articles" Editors of ACS journals may select a limited number of articles to made made open access free of charge to the authors. For current information on open access to ACS journals, see the ACS AuthorChoice page at http://pubs.acs.org/page/policy/authorchoice/index.html.
  • In 2021, ACS will begin releaseing their "Au" journals, begining with JACS Au. These are fully open access journals which will parallel existing ACS journals. The goal is to allow authors who are restricted to publishing in fully open access journals to continue to publish with ACS.
  • The University of California is exploring various options in its eScholarship initiative at http://escholarship.cdlib.org/. The University of California Academic Senate adopted a policy on July 24, 2013, requiring that all UC faculty deposit copies of their scholarly articles submitted for publication after that date in e-Scholarship, or other recognized open access depository.  This mandate does allow faculty to apply for exemptions to the policy if desired.  The legal mechanism for this mandate is that the UC claims a non-exclusive publication right to the author's manuscript version of all articles (not the publisher's edited final copy.) Most major publishers have accepted this mandate and will cooperate.  On October 23, 2015, the UC Office of the President expanded this mandate to include all University of California-employed authors. For more details, see the University of California Scholarly Communications page at http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/open-access-policy/
  • Many UC campuses have now signed onto the OA2020 Initiative which seeks to have all scholarly publishers "flip" all their journals from subscription fees to author publication charges (APC) by 2020.  For more informaiton see the "Be Informed" page at https://oa2020.org/be-informed/
  • The University of California is also seeking to use its economic clout in negotiations with publshers.  Among current goals are a guarantee of immediate open access, rather than delayed/embargoed open access for the publications of UC authors, and discounted APCs for UC authors.
  • Plan S is a new initiative launched in Sept .2018 by a large group of European funding agencies. Its objective is to force researchers receiving grant from those agencies to publish ONLY in fully open access journals by  2020.  For more information, see the "cOAlition S" website at https://www.coalition-s.org/
  • Open access has come to refer to more than simply free access to journal articles.  Many researchers want to have "bulk" access to journal archives in order to collect data across a wide range of papers, to apply to purposes the original authors may have never dreamed, using data mining software.
  • Others take this a step further, and argue that all authors should make their raw data available freely in electronic form, so that others can verify their conclusions and more readily build on their research.  This open data movement has found its most important expression so far in the U.S. National Science Foundation's Data Sharing Policy for recipients of NSF grants, which took effect in 2011.  To learn more about it, see the NSF's Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results page at http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp
  • For more information from the open access movement, you may wish to consult Dr. Peter Suber's book on the topic, Open Access, is now available itself as an opten access e-book at http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/open-access
  • Also of interest: "Open Access" by Ye Li, (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acsguide.10501) in the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication..
  • The UCSB Library maintains a website with information on open access and related issues at its Scholarly Communication page   at http://www.library.ucsb.edu/scholarly-communication/open-access

Repositories

Repositories are electronic services designed to preserve and provide open access to journal article reprints or preprints, audio, video and other media, and/or digital data. Unlike electronic journal or book publishers, they do not generally themselves provide editing or peer review services, though they may provide access to edited, peer-reviewed documents. Repositories may be maintained by an institution for the benefit of its own authors and researchers, or be open to deposits from any researcher in a given subject area. Some funding agencies require that articles and/or data from the research which they fund be deposited in an open access repository.

Source Lists for Repositories:

  • Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR ): http://www.opendoar.org/
    OpenDOAR is a directory of open access repositories maintained at the University of Nottingham IUK). It lists over 2,100 repositories worldwide. OpenDOAR allows you to search or browse for repositories by name, subject, content type, repository type, country, language, or software. OpenDOAR also has a tool to allow you to search repository content and provides interesting statistical graphs on subject, country, etc. as well as repository polcies.
  • Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR): http://roar.eprints.org/
    ROAR is a directory of open access repositories worldwide, maintained at the University of Southampton (UK).  It lists almost 2,500 repositories taken from OpenDOAR and other sites. You may search its list by name, country, subject, software type, date of creation and other criteria. Records for individual repositories display a thumbnail of the home page, activity graphs, country of origin, supporting organization, formats and number of objects contained, as well as a link to the repository itself.
  • Repository66.org Repository Maps http://maps.repository66.org/
    Repository66.org takes data from ROAR and OpenDOAR and graphs the repositories, using icons to indicate the repository's size and software platform. Clicking on the icon provides a link to the repository, information about the repository, and a search box to search it via Google, Google Scholar or Microsoft Live. You may view the worldwide map, or zoom in on specific countries, and filter by software platform or date of founding.
  • University of California Repositories
    • eScholarship http://escholarship.org/
      eScholarship provides a suite of open access, scholarly publishing services and research tools that enable departments, research units, publishing programs, and individual scholars associated with the University of California to have direct control over the creation and dissemination of the full range of their scholarship.  Among its services is providing a repository for postprints of articles by University of California authors. (http://escholarship.org/publish_postprints.html)
    • Merritt http://merritt.cdlib.org/
      Merritt is a University of California Curation Center (UC3) repository for digital assets of all kinds, including texts, images, videos, audio recordings and datasets.
  • Discipline Specific Repositories
    Besides institution-specific responsitories, the other main category of repositories is discipline-specific repositories, designed to serve a particular subject area. In addition to the subject search capabilities of the general source lists above, you may also find subject-specific repositories at the Discipline Repositories page http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/Disciplinary_repositoriesof the Simmons College Open Access Directory wiki. Two of the most important subject-specific repositories are:
    • arXiv.org http://arxiv.org/
      arXiv, originally created at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1991 and now housed at Cornell University, serves the physics community, especially high-energy particle physics.  It is actually a preprint server, acting as the original publisher for many physics papers which may later appear in peer-reviewed journals. Several subject-specific repositories for other fields, modeledon arXi, have been launched, such as bioRxiv.  The American Chemical Society has annonunced a plan for a similar resource for chemistry, ChemRxiv, set to launch later in 2017.
    • PubMedCentral (PMC) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/
      PMC is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). PMC derives its importance as the mandated repository for articles based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health.  Some journals automatically deposit all their content in PMC, others do so selectively at the request of NIH-funded authors.

Electronic Preprints

For many years, scientific researchers shared information on an informal basis by exchanging early printed copies of articles destined for journal publication - preprints. With the arrival of various forms of Internet file servers, especially Web servers, it became practical to make preprints available in electronic form. Starting with tightly knit research areas, where the latest information is vital (e.g. particle physics), the use of electronic preprint servers is spreading to all areas of science.

Preprints vs. Journal Articles

  • Most preprints follow the same general format as journal articles -- introduction, experimental, conclusions, references, etc.
  • However, preprints are not refereed. An article may be submitted to a preprint server without any peer review. Users have to depend on the reputation of the authors to assure quality, rather than the reputation of the editors or publishers. Some of the major preprint servers do have articles posted by crackpots as well as by highly reputable scientists.
  • Note that there is division among journal publishers as to whether an article previously appearing as a preprint can be accepted for publication in a journal. The rule of thumb at the moment in chemistry journals is: No. Physics journals, on the other hand, are much more receptive of articles which have been previously preprinted online.
  • In part due to the issues above, and in part due to the "culture" of chemistry as opposed to physics, electronic preprints have not caught on as widely in chemistry...yet. However, Chemical Abstracts Service does selectively index preprints from the major servers (see below).

Finding Preprints in Chemistry

  • The arXiv.org e-Print Archive at http://arxiv.org/ includes many areas of physics and related disciplines, including chemical physics.
  • bioRxiv was launched in late 2013 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a preprint server for biology.  Subject areas covered include biochemistry, molecular biology and molecular medicine, along with other biological and biomedical disciplines.  As of early 2018, there are several thousand papers in the archive, with 491 in biochemistry.
  • The American Chemical Society in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry and the German Chemical Society have taken a new stab at a chemistry preprint archive starting inAugust,  2017 with ChemRxiv (https://chemrxiv.org/).  As of  Jan. 22, 2020, ChemRxiv has published 3,450 articles.  The Chinese Chemical Society and the Chemical Society of Japan have recently joined the ChemRxiv initiative, promising still further growth of the archive worldwide. One factor that may be slowing submissions is that the chemistry publishing world has not fully accepted the idea of allowing preprints to be republished in journal form (unlike the physics publishing community, where ArXiv is a way of life.) Even ACS itself allows the editors of each journal to determine whether they will accept submissions that have already appeared in ChemRxiv.

 

© 2022 Charles F. Huber

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