Greg Banik is the general manager of the Informatics Division of Bio-Rad Laboratories, and one of the Co-Editors of the new, digital-first ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication, coming in 2020.
What is your area of research?
As the General Manager of the Informatics Division of Bio-Rad Laboratories, our research focuses on analytical chemistry–specifically, spectroscopy. The Division’s Bio-Rad Sadtler spectral databases include not only the millions of spectral traces, but also the critical chemical structures and other data and metadata associated with each record.
What was your reason for working on the new ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication?
I got the email from Sara Tenney, the Publisher at ACS responsible for the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication, asking me to be a co-editor when I was attending an IUPAC workshop in Amsterdam. I started writing a reply to Sara that said I was too busy to participate but thought to myself, “This is like being asked to be a co-editor for a new edition of The Bible.” The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication is such an important work that is so vital to the chemistry community in general and the chemical information community in particular that I simply could not say no.
What are you most excited about with the new ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication?
A new theme in the 4th Edition of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication is the critical importance of being machine friendly. For example, chemists are adept at interpreting chemical meaning from pictures of chemical structures, but those same pictures of chemical structures cannot be Googled with the level of specificity that today’s researchers require. This seemingly technical issue ties into the very personal need for researchers to search for and find chemical information created by others and ultimately to be recognized and rewarded for their own contributions. Increasingly, the importance and relevance of published information is being assessed not by humans, but by machines. This underscores the importance of being machine friendly.
Why is the new ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication so important to their industry?
The new ACS Guide to Scholarly Communicationis critical in my industry because of the explosion of chemical information databases and the need to make these disparate databases interoperable. Everyone in the industry needs to be on the same page, speaking the same language. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication facilitates that.
What one piece of advice would you give for young chemists?
Learn to code. Even if you never become a computer programmer, you will be better off for it. As the world becomes ever more data-centric, knowing what machines can do and at the same time understanding their limitations is essential, no matter what job you end up doing. Also, eat dessert first. Wait. That’s two pieces of advice. Never mind. Just the first one then.
As a corporate researcher, why would someone in your industry benefit from access to the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication?
My industry will benefit from access to the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication because it will ensure that everyone is speaking the same language and not different dialects of the same language. In my company’s specific niche of chemical and spectral databases, following the recommendations of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication will ensure the interoperability of one organization’s content with that of another and will ensure the internal consistency of one’s own products.