Notes from the American Chemical Society Fall Meeting – Washington, DC

Hindawi were proud to be at the biannual meeting of the American Chemical Society, which this fall was held in Washington, DC. The meeting consistently attracts well in excess of 10,000 chemists from all over the world, who discuss the latest advances in chemical science. This was a great opportunity to communicate Hindawi’s latest initiatives with our Editorial Board members, and chat with authors – both existing and prospective – about the merits of Open Access publishing.

Along with Jessica Reeves (Head of Community Marketing), I met a large number of editors who appreciated the opportunity to talk about journal matters face to face. Topics discussed included the upcoming introduction of Data Availability Statements to all Hindawi titles, the recent successes of our key chemistry journals, and the opportunities and implications following the launch of two new preprint servers for the chemistry community – more on that later. Equally, we enjoyed hearing first hand about how rewarding they find being an academic editor for a Hindawi title, and what steps we could take to make the journals a more attractive venue in which to publish.

 


Hindawi’s booth in the exposition was well attended, and academics were keen to hear about how Hindawi could help them publish their work Open Access. Experienced researchers and students alike loved our T-shirt giveaways, which featured graphics of lab glassware reenvisaged as lovable animals.

 


We relished the opportunity to listen to our editors and authors presenting their work, amongst the over 900 talks delivered over the course of the conference.

Hindawi has been monitoring closely the recent launch of two preprint servers dedicated to the chemistry community. Towards the start of this month Elsevier released ChemRN, which promises to be a new network dedicated to chemistry, and provides a platform for authors to upload manuscripts ahead of publication. They say:

Chemistry researchers can post preprints and working papers on ChemRN, share ideas and other early stage research, and collaborate. It allows users to quickly upload and read abstracts and full text papers, free of charge.

Just a week later, the American Chemical Society (ACS) announced that ChemRxiv beta was open for submissions. The launch followed strategic input from a number of chemical societies, not-for profit organizations, scientific publishers, and fellow preprint services. Critically, the vision is for ChemRxiv to be community led. James Milne, of the ACS Publications Division says:

We are currently finalizing the community-wide governance supporting ChemRxiv and look forward to announcing more developments shortly. We encourage feedback from users during the weeks ahead.

To demonstrate the importance of community feedback and receive feedback from authors and other stakeholders, the Chemical Sciences Roundtable and the ACS hosted a joint symposium on preprints on Tuesday.

 


During the symposium, ACS representatives provided rationale of the need for the ChemRxiv preprint server, and gave updates on how the launch would proceed. This was followed by three panel sessions, with perspectives given from other preprint servers and research funding agencies, from journal editors, and from academia. The discussions uncovered the mixed response to preprint servers in general. While the majority of stakeholders support the drive for the sharing of manuscripts prior to submission, some editors – including those representing high profile journals – continue to resist the movement. Indeed, they insist that prior deposition of preprints could either adversely affect – or else entirely prohibit – consideration at their journal.

A useful preliminary summary of the discussions can be found as a Storify on the Chemical & Engineering News website. However, a formally documented report of the meeting is expected to be published in about a month’s time.

For the avoidance of doubt, all Hindawi journals will accept the submission of manuscripts that have previously been deposited as preprints.

At Hindawi, we support initiatives that promote the values of Open Science. Preprints enable authors to share their work earlier and potentially receive feedback from a wider range of readers and reviewers than they might otherwise obtain (which could help when preparing to submit to a journal). Importantly, because the formal publication process can take time, preprints also provide a timestamp and thus secure precedence for the work, making scooping less likely. Preprints are vital to the rapid dissemination of ideas and data,  most notably in public health emergencies such as Ebola and Zika, but are no less important to any other field. While we understand that different communities are adopting a preprint culture at different speeds, we do – and will continue to – support their use. For the avoidance of doubt, all Hindawi journals will accept the submission of manuscripts that have previously been deposited as preprints. We also want to actively help authors to do this. Over the coming months we will be developing ways to facilitate the transfer of manuscripts from preprint servers to Hindawi’s Manuscript Tracking System, and providing guidance on preprint best practice as platforms develop.

The text and illustration in this blog post are by Hindawi and are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Flag photo: Thomas Faust (also CC-BY). Tweets are individually credited.