The Transforming Power Of Chemistry Runs On Information | March 10, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 10 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 10 | p. 75 | ACS Comments
Issue Date: March 10, 2008

The Transforming Power Of Chemistry Runs On Information

Department: ACS News

Information fuels the "transforming power of chemistry." It energizes scientific discovery, advances the field of chemistry, and sustains those who practice it. Without uninterrupted supplies of new information, the chemistry enterprise ceases to be innovative.

ACS members recognize the importance of information, as does the ACS Board of Directors. The ACS Strategic Plan 2008 and Beyond, lists the following as Goal 1: "ACS will be the indispensable professional and information resource for members and other chemistry-related practitioners." The strategic plan has six goals, all of which are pivotal to the future success of the society (see It is no accident that information is the first goal in the plan.

Because ACS understands its members' dependence on information, it seeks to be the indispensable professional and informational resource for them. It accomplishes this goal by offering members access to a broad array of comprehensive, diverse, and complementary information products and services.

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), for example, enables scientists worldwide to explore and build upon the discoveries of their colleagues through preeminent research tools such as STN and SciFinder. These indispensable databases of chemical and related scientific information are the result of CAS's 100-year commitment to chemists and the chemistry enterprise.

Database searches using CAS tools routinely point to articles in ACS publications. Although representing only 6% of the total number of journals now publishing in core chemistry, ACS journals accounted for more than 36% of the 2.7 million unique citations to core chemistry journals in 2006. There can be no doubt that scientists view ACS journals as a fundamental information resource. ACS publications are the most cited journals in the seven ISI core chemistry categories.

In some instances, authors of articles appearing in ACS journals also present their research at ACS national meetings. These meetings provide members with an opportunity to contemporaneously share information with - and receive feedback from - their peers. In many ways, these meetings underscore and reinforce what CAS and ACS journals seek to do: help scientists explore and build upon discoveries of colleagues.

Some ACS resources provide information in a less direct way. The Petroleum Research Fund (PRF), for example, doesn't generate information in and of itself. However, the money it distributes (approximately $25 million in 2007) to scientists conducting fundamental research leads to the subsequent creation and distribution of important information. Over its lifetime, PRF has supported research that has resulted in more than 18,000 publications in ACS journals alone.

Despite all these sources of information, and many more that space constraints prevent me from listing, the society knows that it cannot rest on its laurels. As the worldwide chemistry enterprise continues to grow relentlessly more competitive, timely and convenient access to credible, quality information becomes more vital to the advancement of our members' careers and to the fate of the organizations that employ them. What the society offers today may well be inadequate in tomorrow's world.

This is why the society continues to invest great amounts of creativity, time, and resources in providing better information more quickly and conveniently to our members. One core strategy for improving the delivery of this information focuses on the Internet. For some time now, CAS and ACS publications have considered digital delivery of information essential to their missions. Discussions held with volunteers responsible for organizing our national meetings are focusing on leveraging the value of the meetings through dissemination of selected content via the Internet.

The ACS website,, recently underwent a dramatic overhaul to improve not only the content offered but also the searchability, navigation, and overall user satisfaction with the site. Later this year, ACS will offer an opt-in member network that will permit members to more readily identify and connect with one another.

The ACS Education Division and the Journal of Chemical Education are working together to collect chemistry educational resources and make them available through the National Science Digital Library. The digital library will feature content related to the chemical sciences for use by college faculty, precollege teachers, parents, homeschoolers, students, and the general public. Each item being added to the collection is categorized by subject matter, approach to teaching and learning, and level in the curriculum.

In today's competitive marketplace, complacency equals stagnation. The society knows it must constantly innovate. Maintaining a steady supply of new and useful information for our members has been, is, and will remain a primary focus for ACS.

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