Open-access chemistry

30 May 2008 - Freedom of information

Open-access publication has a long way to go in chemistry land. The basic idea behind open-access is that authors and not readers pay a fee for having a scientific article published. For a number of reasons this is a great idea. Scientific papers should be freely accessible because access to knowledge should be free in the first place and because a large portion of scientific research is paid by the public anyway through taxes. As an added bonus researchers will be expected to show some constraint when publishing their results when it costs them money, increasing the quality of published content.

Many publishers of chemistry content now have an open-access platform where you can expect to see some open-access content among the subscription based content. Problem though is that the open-access content is usually not properly labeled in the table of contents.

Current fully open-access organic chemistry sources: the venerable organic Syntheses @ orgsynth.org are now in their 86th volume. Example: two ways to synthesise diphenyldiazomethane here (1944) and here (2008). Interestingly its inorganic cousin Inorganic Syntheses is again subscription based. A recent initiative is the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry and then there are Molecules and The Open Organic Chemistry Journal . An extensive list of open-access publications can be found here.

The most recent addition to the list is called JACSbeta which is a web-based collection of JACS articles around a specific theme (currently total synthesis). Free access is granted until the next edition of this publication.