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October 3, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 38


Letters to the editor

Not inolved in study

Like many people, I have been working from home, and without the long commute I have been better able to keep up with my C&EN and Scientific American issues. One oft-repeated phrase in most technical articles that has gotten tiresome for me and perhaps others is “who was not involved in the study.” I propose C&EN save some space, ink, and repetition by replacing this overworked phrase and pioneer a new TLA (three-letter acronym) with “(nis)” or “(nip)” or “(wnip)” or another more creative TLA. In our current viral environment this may be contagious enough to infect other technical publications.

Thomas. J. Lynch
Roswell, Georgia


Journal covers

Are the covers of organic journals becoming comic books? Based on the recent receipt of my regular reading of the American Chemical Society, Wiley, and Royal Society of Chemistry journals, this question is worthy of debate. There was great pleasure of opening a bluish Journal of the American Chemical Society or a gray Journal of Organic Chemistry to delve into the most recent (but 3-month-ago-submitted) results. Now, when clicking on abstracts, we are lulled into a trivial mental state by the multicolor information that attempts, and mostly fails, to transmit chemical knowledge and, instead, gives us shazam (please reference a past comic book character) and wit (usually unsuccessfully for the reasonably intelligent). What are the consequences? Infection of papers by such factors, which is also already evident. And authors accept without question when, at considerable cost, such covers purport to describe their valuable scientific contributions. Solution? Authors control their cover submissions and, in fact, their graphical abstracts. Otherwise, it is very easy to leave behind a legacy of frippery.

Victor Snieckus
Kingston, Ontario



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