Monday, August 13, 2007

C&E News Article on Writing

Rachel Petkewich wrote an article in the August 13, 2007 issue of Chemical and Engineering News about Tips for Writing a Journal Article. Our use of a wiki and Open Notebook Science to track results was mentioned:


A few experimentalists have moved beyond word processing programs like Word and are investigating writing with wikis and other Web innovations. Derived from the Hawaiian word for "quick," a wiki is a collaborative website with content that can be directly edited by people with access. Jean-Claude Bradley, an organic chemist at Drexel University, and Henry S. Rzepa, a computational chemist at Imperial College London, both use wikis.

Bradley explains that his students record their experimental procedures and upload results to the group's public wiki instead of using conventional lab notebooks. Group members post discussion points online, and Bradley writes a manuscript in the wiki. He hopes that journals will accept the open format, citing transparency as a benefit. "Any statements I make can be traced back to the raw experimental data," he says.
Our papers in progress are available off the left sidebar on the wiki: Paper01 and Paper02. The first is on the Anatormy of the Ugi reaction and the second on the mechanism of acid-catalyzed furfuryl group cleavage.

With our move towards combinatorial libraries, we have not done as much mechanistic work with the Ugi reaction as I thought we would have by now. The challenge now is to rework and expand these preliminary manuscript drafts into complete stories. Of course, while all of this is going on, the "storyless experiments" stand on their own and are available for use by anyone for their own purposes.

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