Monday, May 21, 2007

Totally Retrosynthetic

Last week Sivappa Rasapalli contacted me about making his ideas in organic chemistry public. He has written research proposals on synthetic strategies for natural product synthesis. (And it turns out some of his ideas involving furans are quite relevant to one of our pressing immediate concerns.)

He has been looking for an academic position and was wondering if he was better off being open about his ideas or keeping them secret, outside of submissions to search committees.

It is a good question, isn't it?

From the standpoint of plagiarism, let's see.

Unregistered documents sent to small groups of people working in the same area


Documents registered with third-party time stamps and efficiently indexed by the most popular search engine in the world

Which situation would you rather be in if a case of plagiarism needed to be settled? Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to get caught doing that?

Anyone who knows me can guess what I suggested. Shiva has created a wiki and blog:
My Research Proposals at
Totally Retrosynthetic at

He tells me that he will continue to post his ideas there and, when he is in a position to do it, his research results. If he does, this is exactly what I had in mind when creating UsefulChem: a completely free and hosted model to carry out Open Science that can be replicated by anyone, anywhere, overnight.

Please help me welcome Shiva to the chemical blogosphere!


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