September 2015 - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

Who Will Win the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry? Take a Guess with ACS Experts

It’s Nobel season—science’s “Super Bowl and the Oscars wrapped in to one,” says Lauren Wolf, head of the science and technology group at Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

Between October 5 and 12, the Nobel committee will award prizes to scientists, thinkers, and leaders whose work has changed humankind. And like those other high-stakes events, the lead-up to the big reveal is half the fun.

For the third year running, C&EN will host an interactive webinar to predict the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Panelists will discuss the history and selection process for the Nobel Prize, and then offer their guesses as to what chemist (or chemists) will take home the medal.

Naming the next Nobelist

How easy is it to pick a winner? According to Wolf, many people speculate by looking at past Nobel laureates and trends. Using data on past winners, it’s possible to make inferences about an individual’s chances based on their age, institutional affiliation, and even whether they wear glasses (apparently, being bespectacled increases your odds).

The factor that really matters, of course, is one’s contribution to the field. Explains Wolf, “A Nobelist in chemistry must have done pioneering work—work without which other chemists couldn’t do what they do now.” This means that winners also tend to be among chemistry’s biggest names.

Of course, to predict a winner, it also helps to have deep expertise in chemistry. ACS’ panel has it in spades. Panelists are:

  • Jillian Buriak, a professor at the University of Alberta and the editor-in-chief of Chemistry of Materials. Last year, she watched the event with her class—this time, they’ll see her in the spotlight.
  • Philip Ball, a freelance writer who’s contributed to Nature, Chemistry World, the New York Times, and more. He’ll be joining the call from the United Kingdom, and has a keen eye for top science around the world.
  • Paul Bracher, a professor at Saint Louis University and author of the blog ChemBark. Paul is no stranger to the Nobel prediction game—he’s been posting his guesses on the blog for years.

Wolf and C&EN’s Matt Davenport will cohost the webinar (the two are also cohosts of the web series “Speaking of Chemistry”). Wolf correctly guessed one of the 2014 winners and is hoping to defend her title.

Join in the excitement

Webinar listeners can get in on the fun, too. For the first time this year, the session will be hosted on the ACS Webinars platform, which means listeners can ask questions of the panelists and weigh in on polls and trivia. They can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #ChemNobel.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, October 1 from 2–3 p.m. EST—and it’s free to attend. You can register here.

In the meantime, come up with your own prediction and tweet it using #ChemNobel. You’ve got nothing to lose—and major bragging rights to gain.

How to Respond to Reviewer Comments

In an earlier blog post, we talked about what reviewers can do to provide useful, high-quality reviews. We turn now to some recommendations on how you, as an author, should respond to reviewer comments.

Anatomy of a thorough and high-quality response

A high-quality response shows the editor that you have thoughtfully considered reviewer comments. It should include:

  • A point-by-point response to each reviewer comment, quoting from the review when necessary.
  • Several ACS journals require a marked-up version of your manuscript when you submit your revisions. This makes it easier for the editorial offices to see how you incorporated changes suggested be the reviewers. If the journal you’re submitting to requires a marked-up version, it will be indicated in their request for revision.
  • An explanation of how you changed parts of the manuscript. Be sure to include quotes and page numbers where new content can be found.
  • If the reviewer comments indicate that they didn’t fully understand your paper, try to determine where they got confused and why, and clarify as you revise.

Responding thoroughly and thoughtfully to reviews will help you craft a better paper.

Tips for authors responding to reviewers

When you receive a review, keep these tips in mind:

  • Reviews are not meant to be personal. If the review you receive does not seem friendly, still respond as if it is.
  • If you become angry after reading a review, take some time to cool off before responding. Your responses should be professional and scientific.
  • You should always respond to reviewer comments, even if you don’t agree with them. If there are reviewer comments that you decide not to take into account, indicate that to the editor.
  • It is best to respond to all reviewer comments. However, if there is a case in which you believe that the reviewer’s request for more data or experimentation will not further support the hypothesis, indicate why, using scientific backing.
  • If your review does not seem positive, or if your manuscript is declined, don’t get discouraged. All authors have received reviews that are less than glowing, and all have had a manuscript declined, even ACS editors. If your paper gets rejected, take the reviewer’s comments into account in your revision of the paper before you resubmit.

Check out these other ACS resources to learn more:

What Makes a Good Review?

In a previous blog post, we discussed what you can do to become a reviewer.  Once you become a reviewer, you should understand how to provide a thorough, first-rate review.

Anatomy of a useful and high-quality review

A high-quality review is useful to both the editor and the author. It should include:

  • A brief summary of the manuscript that places the work into context with the current literature.
  • A discussion of the possible impact of the work and its potential interest to the journal’s readership.
  • A discussion of the scientific merit of the research. Is the research well thought-out and completed at a high level?
  • A discussion of the data quality. Were the data obtained correctly? Are there any control experiments missing?
  • A discussion of the quality of the writing. Are there major problems with the grammar that make it difficult to understand the research? (As a reviewer, you are not expected to review work that is poorly written or incomprehensible.) Are necessary references included?
  • An overall recommendation. If you have major concerns, let the editor know.

Comments to share with the editor

Comments to authors are required, but comments to the editorial office are optional. You should provide comments to the editor if:

  • You are concerned that a conflict of interest exists.
  • You have reviewed the manuscript previously for another journal. Has the manuscript improved since you last reviewed it?
  • You believe that other papers should be included in the references, but want to avoid adding them to the review directly to protect your anonymity.
  • You believe scientific misconduct has occurred.

If you do share comments with the editor, be sure they’re consistent with what you’ve told the writer. Do not tell the editor the manuscript is unacceptable, but provide positive reviews to the authors.

Some additional tips for reviewers

  • Respond promptly to the request and provide the review on time. If you are too busy, you can say no to a request. If you can, it is helpful to suggest 2–3 other potential qualified reviewers.
  • Substantiate your review; do not just provide an opinion. Use points from the manuscript, as well as from the relevant literature, and be specific about what is incorrect and why it is incorrect.
  • Provide citation information when relevant to the review.
  • Provide constructive criticism and a discussion of the work and its quality. Leave editorial decisions up to the editor.

In a later blog post, we will discuss how authors should respond to reviewer comments.

Advancing ACS Chemical Biology: Interview with Editor-in-Chief Laura Kiessling, PhD

ACS Chemical Biology Editor-in-Chief Laura Kiessling uses one word to assert the journal’s philosophy: Interdisciplinary.

“Having researchers that are knowledgeable about both chemistry and biology has led to remarkable advances,” she says. Advocating this type of interdisciplinary approach has established ACS Chemical Biology as an important anchor in the chemical biology field, serving a somewhat new community of researchers that are able to interact under this one roof.

Kiessling argues that a biologist typically brings only one perspective to a chemical biology paper, likewise a chemist — and this would be problematic for those scientists who have bridged both disciplines and have submitted papers that reflect this. “Without a forum where people are actually trained in an interdisciplinary way to know both fields, it can be difficult to have papers that are appropriately reviewed and evaluated,” she says.

Kiessling’s passion for her journal is unquestionable, but she wears many other hats: mother, teacher, mentor and founder of Quintessence Biosciences — a biotech company focused on development of novel protein-based therapeutics. Not surprisingly, Kiessling finds herself doing research off the typical 9-5 office hours. “I do my research when I am feeling the most passionate – and I set the same guidelines for my staff. I don’t set office hours for anyone on staff.”

“With so many balls in the air, Laura works incredibly long, intense hours,” says Kris Turkow, Kiessling’s personal assistant. “She participates in numerous community outreach activities, such as speaking at local high schools, presenting her work to the public at the Wisconsin Science Festival, and hosting student groups in the lab.” Despite this, Kiessling sets aside time to review every submission to ACS Chemical Biology. That personal dedication is in large part why the journal has steadily earned the respect of peers in the field and provoked countless scientific discussions through its periodic Special Issues.

In early 2016, ACS Chemical Biology will publish a Special Issue on Epigenetics, one of the hottest areas in chemical biology presently. According to Kiessling, this special edition will cover inhibitors of epigenetic modifications, biochemical approaches, and the mechanisms of enzymes that carry out epigenetic modifications. “We have been using that knowledge to try and devise new strategies to culture human embryonic stems cells and induced pluripotent stem cells and then differentiate them to particular lineages,” she says. The issue will be curated by Tatiana Kutateladze (Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado, Denver) whose research focuses on molecular mechanisms of epigenetic regulation.

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Leading the Field

Since its launch in 2006, ACS Chemical Biology has been at the forefront of publishing important breaking research. Kiessling recalls specific articles that exposed biological systems such as the visualization of biologically relevant molecules and activities inside living cells. Such innovations became central to the development of advanced instrumentation, a scenario that was occasioned by a problem Luke Lavis and Ronald Raines called “small-molecules or fluorophores which could obscure valuable information in biological experiments.” In their 2014 article, Lavis and Raines argued that they could individually isolate specific molecules from several others enabling the illumination of numerous biochemical and cell biological processes through super resolution imaging.

ACS Chemical Biology has published forefront methods for monitoring or perturbing biological interactions, for example, in regard to monitoring interactions, the popular HaloTag method for labeling proteins with small molecule fluorophores or reporters. A recent publication by Wood and coworkers describes the use of this engineered dehalogenase technology to identify the targets of small molecule probes. An example of perturbing interactions includes several publications by Matt Disney, who has pioneered a series of methods to generate and identify small molecules that regulate RNA.

With the rise of multi drug resistant TB and other super bug infections, the Obama administration has called for new investments in antimicrobial strategies to eliminate antibiotic resistance. ACS Chemical Biology has since published a number of exciting papers including new antimicrobial strategies for infections. “I am proud to say that a lot of our papers describe new approaches to antibiotic resistance,” Kiessling says, affirming the responsiveness of the journal to contemporary scientific puzzles.

In this tightly knit community of experts, the process of receiving and publishing papers in the ACS Chemical Biology journal is an elaborate but also relatively straightforward process As Editor-in-Chief, Kiessling reads each manuscript and determines which Associate Editor is best suited to handle the paper. Manuscripts for consideration by the external review board are selected through a rigorous team effort that calls for close collaboration with the authors whose concerns regarding, for example, potential conflict of interest are taken into consideration. The Associate Editors ultimately decide whether to reject or accept a manuscript.

“I think this group of Associate Editors covers tremendous breadth and depth,” says Kiessling. “From Asia, Europe to the United States, we have a very broad and international team.” As examples, she mentions Zixin Deng, a professor of microbiology and an expert in DNA backbone modification; Yukushige Ito from Japan, an accomplished synthetic chemist with interests in chemistry and biology of carbohydrates; Kai Johnsson an expert in applying chemical biology to imaging; Anna Mapp from the University of Michigan who studies nucleic acids; Daniel Rauh, from the Technische Universitӓt Dortmund in Germany is an expert at combining organic synthesis and chemical genetic strategies to selectively target proteins of interest; Jason Gestwicki at the University of California, San Francisco is known for his fundamental work towards understanding the role of protein misfolding in a variety of diseases; as well as UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna, the brilliant structural biologist whom the New York Times described as “a pioneer who helped simplify genome editing,” for her work in discovering the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system.
The Art of Science

An art collector who keeps well-tended orchids and succulents in her office, Kiessling draws on her immediate surroundings to champion the role of society journals in non-profit communities, likening the venture to buying food from the neighborhood farmers market. “One of the advantages of eating local food is that the resources are from the community and they go back to the community,” she said. This sentiment extends to publishing with society journals versus a commercial publisher. Kiessling reiterates that ACS Chemical Biology empowers its community by involving practicing scientists in the editorial process. “It is useful to have people that are in the trenches,” she says.

A MacArthur genius award recipient and ACS Kavli lecturer, Kiessling traces her journey through chemical biology back to having George Whitesides as her first organic chemistry teacher at MIT, and Karl Barry Sharpless, her chemistry professor and a winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, who selected her as a teaching assistant at MIT.

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Today, Kiessling’s research work focuses on the biological role of carbohydrates, where she exploits the differences between mammalian and microbial glycans or sugar on every cell. She explains that cells are covered with a coat of carbohydrates;

Kiessling seeks to exploit the differences in microbes like bacteria and fungi that use different carbohydrates on their cell surfaces. Besides this, her lab is also looking at how cell-surface carbohydrates differ during development, with a view to devising new antimicrobial agents.

Being a beneficiary of mentoring herself, Kiessling recognized early the value of young scientists working alongside experienced hands and set up the ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship, which honors the contributions of an individual with a major impact on scientific research in the area of chemical biology. She administers the award together with the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry and uses this forum to funnel talent to the field.

“The Lectureship acts as a hook to introduce people in the community to some of the outstanding young scientists in the field,” she says. A majority of speakers at the symposium are typically assistant or early associate professors. “I love the symposium and lectures because it gives me an opportunity to learn about exciting young people in the field.”

Winners walk away with a plaque and a cash prize. Alumni include Carolyn Bertozzi, a professor of Molecular and cell biology at Stanford, whose research interests involve profiling changes in cell surface glycosylation associated with cancer, inflammation and bacterial infection and the Editor-in-Chief of ACS Central Science, and most recently, Kevin Shokat of the University of California San Francisco, whose lab is attempting to develop a small-molecule drug to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Even with rising college tuition costs that might deny some students a college education, and a political climate responsible for huge chunks of funding being lopped off research universities, Kiessling remains optimistic that the chemical biology community can address the most complex health and environmental questions of the day. From creating the next generation of drugs to understanding the role of enzymes in biomass production, and tackling antibiotic resistance, Kiessling reiterates that the mission of chemical biology has never been clearer. “There are a lot of interesting questions that we are currently addressing and will continue to address in this interdisciplinary field,” she says.

Special thanks to Kevin Davies, PhD, for edits made to this article.

Why Do Old Books Smell So Good?

The smell of old books is as ubiquitous and memory-jogging as that of cut grass or freshly baked bread. It instantly transports us to musty college libraries, second-hand bookshops sliced by shafts of light thick with dust mites, and the well-turned, softly yellowing pages of our favorite novels – re-read and re-thumbed down the years. It’s a sweetly pleasant and nostalgic odor that seems like it should have a specific word to describe and encapsulate it – like petrichor for the smell of fresh rain on dry soil. But far from being a traditional and harmless olfactory enhancement of the reading experience, the smell is actually a marker of decay.

Paper is an organic material, and with age the components are broken down by acid hydrolysis, giving off volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which may have hints of vanilla (vanillin), almond (benzaldehyde) or musky florals (ethyls, tolulene, and hexanol). The rate and pattern of decay and VOC emission that make up the particular blend of smell varies according to the original composition of the paper, ink and binding in each tome – as well as how the paper has been stored and used over the years. Key factors include the presence of lignin, rosin and ash, as well as the acidity, degree of polymerization and protein content.1,2 Paper may also take on smells from its immediate environment, including cigarette smoke, cooking vapors, damp and molds or flowers and perfumed love notes pressed between the pages.

Research into this area by the food and pharmaceutical industries has focused on preventing VOCs from paper and cardboard packaging seeping into products, but there is also an important non-commercial consideration to the chemistry of paper degradation, and libraries and archives are now looking to VOC analysis and a technique known as material degradomics to help monitor the condition of their collections, and to develop effective long-term conservation treatments and plans for books and texts.2 This method essentially ‘sniffs’ the paper to determine the volume and composition of the VOC profile, a far less invasive method of analysis than those used previously which required the removal of pages for diagnostics in the lab – an act just as destructive as the natural decaying process itself. Rapidly degrading and at-risk documents that are identified by degradomics can be treated or neutralized in large reactors to balance their acidity and slow the decay. Research has also helped to show that archives should have decreased temperature and relative humidity in order to preserve paper-based collections for longer.1,2

There may be no immediate concern for very old conserved texts – despite its organic makeup, paper can be a very durable material if produced and stored correctly, and our important historical documents are very often kept in controlled environments. At greater risk are the writings and books of more recent years. Between 1850 and 1990, books were printed on mass-produced paper with a high rosin or pine tar content, which is causing them to degrade ten-times faster than earlier material.2 These works could all be dust within 200 years, leaving a black hole in our cultural and historical memory if we do not act now. But on a cheerier note, for those who have moved over to e-readers, or those who have already set about slowing the release of VOCs in their collections, and who are craving the nostalgic aroma of dying paper, a range of ‘old book’ scented candles and perfumes are available online.

1. Schmidt CW. On the smell of old books. Analytical Chemistry 2009;81:8656.
2. Strlic M, et al. Material Degradomics: On the Smell of Old Books. Analytical Chemistry 2009;81:8617–8622.

What Does Chemistry Really Contribute to the World?

ACS journals offer readers an extraordinary breadth of research and cutting-edge science from around the world. Every day, articles published in the journals influence and inspire scientists, policymakers, industry and the general public. We have compiled some of the latest fascinating research that shows how relevant chemistry is to our everyday lives.

The world of science—and chemistry in particular—can seem far removed from our everyday lives. Experiments performed by lab coat-wearing technicians do not always seem accessible or relevant. Yet the raw science of molecules and compounds can and does apply itself to solving real-world problems. Here is a selection of recent advances in applied chemistry published in ACS journals that can and will make a substantive difference to how we live.

Reversing the decline of the honey bee
The decline of the honey bee has been a major global concern for the past decade. These small but busy creatures are vital for our ecosystem, and their loss could be catastrophic. One of the factors that may contribute to their reduced numbers is the use of insecticides that wash from farmland into rivers and streams – particularly neonicotinoids. Recent research published in ACS has shown that the normal breakdown of these chemicals cannot occur without sunlight, and even a few inches of water is enough to prevent the insecticide breaking down. Understanding this chemical process could save the honey bee and other wildlife from an untimely demise.
Read the full article from Environmental Science & Technology Letters  

Creating sustainable and safe battery power
There is a continued drive to find ways to use sunlight to make fuels and generate electricity for our energy-hungry society. Metal-ion batteries are in most of our gadgets, but they take a long time to charge, rely on electricity sources, and can overheat or catch fire if they are damaged – an imperfect way to power our personal devices. Research is ongoing into a safer and more sustainable photo battery, which uses normal indoor lighting to recharge itself in just 30 seconds, enough to power a light-emitting diode (LED) for 100 cycles. Although not yet strong enough to power our phones, this technology offers significant potential for the future.
Read the full article from The Journal of Physical Chemistry

Automatic, needle-free treatment for diabetes patients
Living with type 1 diabetes (previously known as juvenile diabetes) means constant monitoring of blood sugar, in addition to the burden of insulin injections, which can be difficult for younger patients. Current treatments require patients to track their levels and calculate their insulin needs, but there may often be a delay between when a dose is needed and when it takes effect in the body. Research published by the ACS has taken a step towards automatic, needle-free drug delivery with the development of an artificial pancreas – an implanted device to compute and administer doses. After promising results from computer testing, the device will now be trialed in animal models.
Read the full article from Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research

The rise of the robots
It sounds like science fiction, but treating patients with nanorobots could soon be a real option. Tiny nano particles programmed to behave in a certain way could allow doctors to deliver drugs to specific targets within the body. The development of nanoswimmers has been reported – three components linked in a chain as long as a silk fiber is wide, and which move in an undulatory way to swim through fluids. These were able to swim through fluid thicker than blood at a speed of one body length a second, directed to their target by a magnetic field. Programmed nanoswimmers could have application in many medical fields, including wiping out specific types of cancer cells.
Read the full article from Nano Letters 

Simplifying the diagnosis of heart attacks
Diagnosing a heart attack requires many tests and expensive equipment – luxuries which are not always available in remote or low-income areas. To help solve this, scientists have looked at ways to measures the level of a protein called troponin – which rises when the heart is damaged or its blood supply is cut off, and so offers a good indicator that a person has had or might be at risk of a heart attack. Researchers have developed a simple device like a thermometer that can be read by eye. This uses special nanoparticles, ink and a vial attached to a thin tube. When blood containing troponin is mixed with the nanoparticles the ink in the tube will rise, allowing a measurement to be taken.
Read the full article from Analytical Chemistry

Flexible electronics with green credentials
Despite the rapid evolution of smart technology and gadgets, the physical devices themselves remain housed in solid cases. Efforts to create bendable electronics have relied on petroleum-based plastics and toxic chemicals, but now researchers have made progress with a nanocellulose paper made from wood flour that contains tiny semiconducting crystals which allow it to glow. This technology could pave the way for flexible electronics made from sustainable and renewable sources – a significant step forward for the industry.
Read the full article from ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 

Nanorobots and flexible glowing paper might seem like far-fetched ideas, but these scientific advances will shape how our future society evolves and changes its use of technologies. Over the past few decades, we have already witnessed a seismic shift in the way we communicate, work and learn. The photo battery could help reduce our reliance on electricity grids, while heart patients could reap the benefits of automated and targeted medical therapies. Chemistry is central to the work being done in these areas and so many other scientific areas of advancement. Understanding the natural world and the processes within it affords us the ability to harness science in a way that benefits our everyday lives.

Learning from Librarians in Brazil

ACS on Campus is an outreach program dedicated to helping students, post-docs and faculty advance their careers by bringing together leaders in chemistry, publishing, research and science communications.

The recent ACS on Campus events held in Brazil in May 2015 marked the first execution of a separate track dedicated to engaging and better understanding the professional landscape in which librarians work. The 2 hour session included an overview of Open Access from the perspective of ACS Publications and the realities of running a modern academic library.  Approximately 8–15 librarians attended each session, of which participants came from both chemistry departments and general sciences. In all cases, the sessions generated lively discussions around open access, faculty engagement and data management. Ultimately, these sessions provided librarians the opportunity to share their main concerns and challenges with running an academic library with their colleagues and ACS Publications staff.

The week kicked off with UFRGS (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul) in Porto Alegre, where colleagues from physics and biology joined librarians from the chemistry department. Discussion centered on maximizing the interaction between the library, faculty and students, and a desire to support users and researchers with article writing. The second meeting at UFSC (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina) had a slightly larger audience, with a mix from all sciences. The group was interested to learn more about open access and how it can support publication plans within the institution. The group also discussed the future of libraries in Brazil and the librarian’s evolving role within them.

At the last meeting in the series at UNICAMP (Universidade de Campinas), ACS Publications staff welcomed over 15 librarians from different areas of the university. In this mixed group, there was much discussion around how libraries can support faculty with the publications process, from writing and submitting articles to improving the number of academic articles accepted for publication. The attendees rounded out the session by discussing the evolving role of libraries in academic institutions, generating ideas for ways to further support faculty and students.

In addition to the librarian breakout sessions, the agendas included breakout sessions for faculty as well as revamped presentations for the main section of events. Attendees learned techniques for communicating their research effectively, the intricacies of the peer review process, the ins and outs of metrics (both author and article level), the story and structure of SciFinder, and the tricky world of copyright and ethics.

Overall, the ACS on Campus events were very well received, with attendees expressing positive feedback on the sessions and topics presented. If you are interesting in attending an ACS on Campus event, or have suggestions for future meetings, please visit

What is the Deal with Research Data?

Research Data Management (RDM) is a hot topic in many institutions, with many conflicting opinions and suggestions. Current thinking puts libraries at the heart of the solution, with many arguing that librarians may hold the key to unlocking its true potential.

Research data management has been hotly debated in recent years, yet it is a concept with a remarkable simple premise: the organization and storage of data. However, a critically important facet of this is future-proofing data collation systems so that material remains useable for as long as possible, and as such RDM requires planning both for current needs, and those of an unknown future.1-3 Most funders require researchers to submit a data management plan with their grant applications, and many Research Councils have their own policies and principles that must be adhered to. On top of this, there are legal requirements to consider, such as freedom of information legislation and individual rights to privacy and confidentiality. Data management has therefore become a complicated issue, and with data outputs growing at an exponential rate, it is one that needs to be addressed by anyone involved in generating, using and sharing research information.

Current thinking is pointing to one key truth at the heart of RDM: libraries and librarians play a central role, and can bring enormous value and insight to the process – particularly around the use of data repositories, as well as in defining standards for data description, accuracy, and accessibility. Several sources have pointed to research and academic libraries as the bodies best suited to lead the way for data curation and preservation.4-8  Many libraries we spoke to told us that they have already implemented innovative programs around data management, with some hiring dedicated Data Management Librarians, or committing to helping faculty members and postgraduates researchers save and prepare for data sharing. Others have hosted regular talks and workshops on campus or built the topic into the curriculum to make sure that everybody has the right information they need to ensure consistent best practice across the institution. Some libraries have agreed to be the central body for minting DOIs (digital object identifiers) across scholarly outputs. There are also plenty of proprietary tools and software platforms available to support data management, and libraries and institutions are appraising these and finding the ones that best suit their needs.
Almost 80% of researchers are in support of having an RDM policy in their institution,9 yet issues still persist. One key drawback to RDM is sensitivity around ownership of data, particularly in the chemical sciences, and overcoming this is critical to sustaining communication between collaborators in a global research community, and to fulfilling the requirements for data generated by publicly funded research, which may need to be made openly accessible with few restrictions.

RDM may appear to some to be a chore or an insurmountable challenge that draws time and resources away from the real thrust of scientific endeavor, but there are myriad benefits to ensuring that robust and long-term data storage and sharing plans are in place at every place of research. These plans mitigate against lost data, prevent duplication, enable wider conversations and collaboration, and ultimately foster new research and ideas. After all the debate, many commentators are reaching a consensus on RDM, and well-planned and executed policies on data management and sharing are becoming the norm.

1. University of Oxford. Available at:
2. London School of Economics. Available at:
3. Whyte & Tedds. Making the Case for Research Data Management. DCC Briefing Papers. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre, 2011. Available at:
4. Schlembach M & Brach C. Research Data Management and the Role of Libraries. In Special Issues in Data Management; Xiao N, et al; ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2012.
5. Walters T & Skinner K. New Roles for New Times: Digital Curation for Preservation. Association of Research Libraries Report, March, 2011.
6. Committee on Ensuring the Utility and Integrity of Research Data in a Digital Age; National Academy of Sciences In Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age; National Academies Press: Washington, DC, 2009.
7. Heidorn PB. The Emerging Role of Libraries in Data Curation and E-science. Journal of Library Administration 2011;51:662–672.
8. Newton MR et al. Librarian roles in institutional repository data set collecting: Outcomes of a research library task force. Collection Manage. 2011;36(1):53–67.
9. Keralis et al. Research Data Management in Policy and Practice: The DataRes Project. Research Data Management, 2013. Available at:

Highlighting ACS eBooks: “Sequence-Controlled Polymers: Synthesis, Self-Assembly, and Properties”

Peer-reviewed eBooks of the ACS contain essential research by the world’s leading scientists spanning all disciplines and applications. In Highlighting ACS eBooks, a new series from ACS Axial, reviewers expand upon original reviews that recommended eBooks for publication. This review covers “Sequence-Controlled Polymers: Synthesis, Self-Assembly and Properties”, an ACS eBook edited by Jean-Francois Lutz, Tara Meyer, Mokoto Ouchi, and Mitsuo Sawamato. For more information on ACS eBooks, and list of titles, please visit our website.

Sequence-Controlled Polymers: Synthesis, Self-Assembly and Properties

Taking biologically and nature-inspired systems towards chemical synthetic equivalent in macromolecular science is always a great challenge. Inspired by polypeptides and polynucleotide  – the building blocks for replicated structure-function and information storage respectively in living matter, recent work by chemists have achieved closer parity to nature. This has been achieved by a combination of knowledge in new monomer or telomer design, sequence control, high yield complementary reactivity, self-assembly, and innovative characterization. The editors and authors of this book have compiled recent advances in this field in a well-organized list of chapters. The book is useful for both novice and experts.

The introduction starts by highlighting the importance of monomer sequence control in building up structure-property relationships in macromolecules. This is beyond structural biology, which is limited by modularity in natural amino acids, nucleobases, as well as saccharide units and the function of the cell and enzymes. The authors outline the history, the important players, previous attempts and milestones in the synthesis and characterization of ordered co-monomer systems. Important developments along the way based on solid-phase synthesis, NMR characterization, living free-radical polymerization, and sequence – topology control have been demonstrated. The chapters are divided to: Biological and bioinspired polymers, sequence regulation methods, and structure-property function correlation categories. Bioinspired materials includes polymer-peptide conjugates, advances in solid-phase synthesis and separation. Sequence regulation reports on time or structure-sequence periodic insertion and high yielding or complete reactivity. High yielding living free-radical polymerization, metathesis reactions, and good directional or anisotropic monomer (oligomer design) makes it possible. Lastly, properties and function reports on step towards practical relevance of the concepts and gives focus on the physical properties of the resulting polymers.

What is made interesting by this books is that the programmable and modular approach in polymer science is highly evident – a major break through in chemical fidelity that can also be predicted by simulation. Although, previous work has dealt mostly with synthetic equivalents of nucleobases and peptides, the reported recent advances have shown that it can also be demonstrated in vinylic, acrylate and other well-known and common commercially available monomers. There is complementarity with what has been done with telechelic chemistry, block and graft copolymer sequences, and supramolecular assembly.

To gain more relevance, a translational development approach to new properties or improvements over existing commercial polymer materials must be done. For commercialization, cost can be an issue but performance through enhanced properties can be an important solution to many applications. This book can be considered an important volume and compilation of the state-of-the-art in the field and should be of high interest to the polymer community involved in basic research and translational development work. For more information on ACS eBooks, and list of titles, please visit our website.

Review by:

Rigoberto Advincula

Case Western Reserve University

Macromolecular Science and Engineering

Testing Old Tapes For Playability

Audio recordings are a huge part of the world’s cultural history—and some are in danger of degrading so much that they’ll be lost forever. Now researchers report that infrared spectroscopy offers a quick, noninvasive way to separate magnetic tapes that can still be played from those that can’t. This could help archivists know which tapes need special handling, and soon, before they get any worse. 

(Anal. Chem. 2015, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b01810).

The Cultural Heritage Index estimates that there are 46 million magnetic tapes (VHS, cassette, and others) in museums and archives in the U.S. alone—and about 40% of them are of unknown quality. Many of these tapes are reaching the end of their playable lifetime, and given the limited number of studio-quality tape players available for the digitizing process, not all the tapes will be digitized before the world loses them.

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