In the past 48 hours I have read book reviews on Amazon, movie reviews on Netflix and articles on Wikipedia. I haven’t written any book reviews for Amazon, ever. I have not written any movie reviews for Netflix, ever. But, I have edited and curated articles on Wikipedia. Let’s bottom line it though…I am a taker from the resources more than a giver. I’m a busy guy and I believe that other people can review books and movies as well as I can (though of course we might differ on opinions). Where I feel an obligation to comment is in those places that I am really passionate…in the blogosphere when there is something being said that doesn’t sit squarely with me. I tend to challenge things I disagree with rather than applaud things I do agree with…except for my friends where I feel obliged to give them recognition for their efforts. Friends do that. I read a lot of blogs..a lot of web pages…a lot of resources. But I very rarely go out of my way to comment on the contribution the writer might have made to my day. I judge most of us operate in this mode. It is what it is….

As we work to produce a platform for the sharing of synthetic procedures/syntheses by developing ChemSpider SyntheticPages we run into the same challenge with this platform as we have with ChemSpider. It is related to the same human condition of us being users and takers over contributors. There is nothing inherently objectionable about this…we all do it. We contribute to something we care about, believe in, feel compelled to participate in. But, it does limit the rate of growth, the participation in and the success of a platform. In terms of a crowdsourcing platform it’s success can be measured by the number of visitors, the number of contributors, the quality of the content, the changes the platform can effect and a myriad of other factors. In terms of traffic ChemSpider continues to increase in terms of the number of visitors. The plot below shows the growth from mid July 2009 to the last week of April 2010. Overall we have seen a 3X growth. While the absolute numbers can be questioned, and differ from measurement system to system the trend is a self-consistent trend.The dip in December is called “Holiday Season”.


During this period have we seen a threefold increase in the number of curators? No. We have seen an increase of about 2X in the number of people who are adding data, links, publication links and spectra to ChemSpider though. But, let’s be clear about these numbers…this might max out at about 45 contributors max….for a peak of 45,000 visitors. That’s a very small percentage! It categorically shows that we take more than we give.

For ChemSpider SyntheticPages we are hoping for more contributions. More people to deposit their syntheses onto the system to share with the chemistry community. What can we offer to encourage such engagement?

1) Every record will have a DOI generated that you can list on your resume, should you choose. Basic development is done already. Testing is about the start.

2) You, the person who did the synthesis, get the recognition. You are the author. Each page can be attributed to a research group also so that the Group Leader would also be able to get aggregate recognition for contributions. it is why you see on pages “From the Research Lab of ****” for example

3) We will also host your analytical data and structures and perform mark-up of the article on your behalf until we have training materials in place for you to do your own markup. Your work will be “well-represented” in a free community resource for chemists that is destined to become one of the major contributors to the domain.

4) Your work will be repeated, peer-reviewed, critiqued and hopefully expanded upon…all good for your science and your reputation ultimately.

5) We will periodically offer recognition, rewards and acknowledgment for masterful synthetic procedures in a public forum. We intend to put in place a full recognition system, above and beyond that one in place at present.

So, what is standing in the way of adding your syntheses onto ChemSpider SyntheticPages. Other then some work, what is in the way? It’s a real question. Is it? 1) your boss won’t let you; 2) you don’t see the value or point in sharing your syntheses; 3) you are concerned about copyright transfer and think won’t be able to use the synthesis in  a future publication; 4) you don’t know how; 5) one of many other reasons. Let us know please….we need your feedback to position and develop CS|SP for you.

Stumble it!

Leave a Reply