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C&EN’s Standards and Practices


What is C&EN?

C&EN is an independent source of journalism about chemistry and related fields. C&EN is published and financially supported by the American Chemical Society, a nonprofit scientific society and scholarly journal publisher based in the US. Our vision is to be the most trusted news outlet for ACS members and the global chemical sciences community.

What is C&EN's mission?

We report news and deliver experiences that our audience can’t find anywhere else. By providing credible, authoritative journalism that chemical scientists need, C&EN catalyzes and cements our audience’s lasting engagement with the American Chemical Society.

What does C&EN value?

The following values direct C&EN’s work:

  • Make journalism that matters

    We commit to being a leading news organization that informs accurately, independently, and fairly.

  • Inform chemical scientists

    We commit to providing essential news and evidence-based information that helps our audience understand and advance the chemical sciences. We commit to providing the membership of the American Chemical Society with news and information about the society’s goals, products, programs, and services.

  • Put our audience first

    We commit to fostering our audience’s trust in our news and information products. We commit to including diverse voices and perspectives in our coverage. We commit to offering products and experiences that delight and enlighten.

  • Do the right thing

    We commit as individuals to be ethical, efficient, flexible, open to criticism, and supportive of our colleagues. We commit as a team to fostering a collegial work environment that is diverse, equitable, always learning, and collaborative.

  • Find a better way

    We commit to good business practices that respond to the changing needs of our audience and advertisers by being innovative, dynamic, accessible, and competitive with other news outlets. We commit to being good stewards of the American Chemical Society’s resources.


What does C&EN write about?

We cover chemistry and the many corners of science it touches. We report on important research advances, business and policy trends, education, chemical safety practices, employment, and more. C&EN also publishes opinion pieces from guest contributors, selected letters from our audience, and news of the American Chemical Society’s activities and its members.

Who writes for C&EN?

Different groups of people write for C&EN, including C&EN staff and external authors such as freelance reporters, opinion writers, and American Chemical Society staff or volunteers. Bylines identify a writer as C&EN staff, a freelancer (“special to C&EN”), or other contributor.

C&EN staff are full-time employees of ACS. Freelancers may produce editorial content (reported news and features for C&EN) or sponsored content (for example, products for C&EN BrandLab). Freelancers who write or produce sponsored or other third-party content (including white papers, native advertising, articles for advertising supplements, or marketing or promotional content for C&EN or other divisions of ACS) are prohibited from covering the same topic for any C&EN editorial product for at least 1 year.

Pieces about the programs and activities of C&EN’s publisher, the American Chemical Society, may be written by C&EN staff, ACS staff, or ACS volunteers, typically ACS board members or committee chairs. Such pieces are tagged as ACS News. ACS staff or volunteers may be representing their own interests or those of their institutions.

How does C&EN decide what to cover?

Reporters follow particular subject areas, such as green chemistry or the biotechnology industry. They read the news, follow the publication of papers in scientific journals, and get tips from their networks of expert sources. C&EN is editorially independent from its publisher, the American Chemical Society.

In deciding whether a story is worth covering, reporters consider whether information is timely, useful, or interesting to our audience. They seek advice from editors on staff and contact outside sources to ask what they think.

News stories incorporate the perspectives of multiple sources, not just the organization or person covered in the story. Some news stories are treated as briefs, short pieces that do not always include additional sources.

C&EN also produces longer, more deeply reported stories called features. News and feature stories may take the form of a video or podcast episode rather than a written article.

Whom do C&EN journalists interview for stories?

C&EN reporters seek a broad range of perspectives for news stories and features. When reporting on a trend or scientific advance, they speak not only to the people involved but also to outside experts who can provide necessary context. Reporters give sources an opportunity to respond to criticism or arguments raised during reporting.

Not every source interviewed appears in the published stories. For example, the topical scope of the story or space limitations may cause a writer to not include a source who was interviewed.

When seeking comment for a story, reporters and editors evaluate whether a source might have a conflict of interest in a given area, whether professionally, personally, or financially. Any conflicts of interest are noted in the story.

C&EN is committed to representing the diversity of people and experiences involved in the chemical sciences. Tracking some demographic information about sources helps us evaluate our efforts in increasing source diversity.

How does C&EN handle confidential sources?

We believe that stories are more credible when all sources are named. However, there are times when sources have a good reason to ask to remain anonymous and there is no other way to obtain the information except from those sources.

Any decision to use an unnamed source involves a discussion between a reporter and their editors. At least one editor knows the name of any anonymous source. If we do decide to quote an unnamed source, then we explain the reason that the person wants to remain anonymous in the story. For example, a source may fear retaliation if they speak openly.

How does C&EN find and evaluate visuals that accompany stories?

C&EN staff or freelance writers identify appropriate images or other illustrative material as part of their reporting. We ensure that we have permission to publish the material and that credits accurately reflect its origin.

Consistent with the American Chemical Society’s core value of diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect, we are committed to representing in visual material the diversity of people and experiences involved in or affected by chemical sciences research, regulation, and industry.

Consistent with ACS’s core value of professionalism, safety, and ethics, we typically require that images and video footage show good safety practices. To do this, we follow principles from the ACS publication Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories. Exceptions include journalistic photos of events, photos taken in areas with limited resources, and historical photos.

We take steps to ensure the accuracy of chemical structures by checking existing structures against a database, usually CAS SciFinder, and new structures and schemes against published literature.


How are Q&As and interviews edited?

Direct quotes from interviews allow us to share people’s perspectives in their own words. For all stories—written news and features, question and answer (Q&A) pieces, videos, and podcasts—we strive to include enough context with the quote to preserve the source’s meaning.

Spoken quotes are generally written to follow C&EN’s style guidelines, which may involve substituting traditional spelling for words spoken informally (for example, “going to” instead of “gonna”) or correcting minor grammatical errors.

For some stories in which direct quotes make up the bulk of the piece, like Q&As and podcasts, editors may make additional edits to the included quotes to improve clarity and fit space requirements. These stories are always marked with a prominent disclosure, such as “The interviews within have been edited for length and clarity.” Audio and video content is often further polished to improve pacing and remove distractions. We never use editing techniques to change the meaning of what someone said.

We do not manipulate images or sounds in any way that is misleading. And we do not present images or sounds that are manufactured or reenacted without disclosing that fact.

The edited transcripts published with videos and podcasts follow C&EN’s general guidelines for rendering spoken quotes.

What is the fact-checking process at C&EN?

C&EN does not have fact-checkers on staff, but news and feature stories are fact-checked at multiple stages in the writing and editing process. If a story is published with an error, C&EN reporters and editors work quickly to correct the error through our correction process.

Do people quoted in an article get to see the article and their quotes before publication?

C&EN staff and freelance reporters do not share complete pieces with sources before publication. This aligns with standard journalistic practices and ensures our stories are independent of undue influence or the perception of bias.

Reporters doing fact checking may contact sources to go over facts, quotes, and other information or send portions of their draft to sources to confirm accuracy. C&EN retains editorial control during this process.

When and how does C&EN issue corrections?

Anyone can contact C&EN at when they believe a correction to a story is needed. After the writer and editor verify that an error has occurred, the story is corrected as promptly as possible. If the mistake was a factual error or contained misleading information, we also issue a correction notice on the primary platform where the content was published. Minor grammatical and style errors and spelling errors in common nouns are corrected without a notice as long as the error did not constitute a factual error or mislead our audience.

We respect a transgender person’s request to change their name in an article or its byline that was published before they transitioned.


What is C&EN’s relationship with the American Chemical Society?

According to American Chemical Society bylaws, C&EN is “the official organ of the SOCIETY for the dissemination to its members of information about SOCIETY business.” Stories about ACS programs and activities are tagged as ACS News.

ACS publishes C&EN, but C&EN is editorially independent of ACS. Views expressed in C&EN do not reflect official positions of ACS unless expressly stated.

Where does C&EN get its financial support?

C&EN funds its journalism through direct support from the American Chemical Society, as well as by advertising, individual donations, and corporate and other institutional grants and sponsorships.

What do C&EN’s editorial board and content advisory board do?

C&EN's editorial board, as mandated by the American Chemical Society's constitution and bylaws, regularly reviews the editorial performance of C&EN. It serves as a communication link between the ACS Board of Directors and C&EN's editor in chief and staff, as well as a bridge between ACS members and C&EN.

C&EN's content advisory board has members from industry, academia, government, and other scientific organizations around the world who are invited and appointed by C&EN’s editor in chief. Advisory board members provide insight, advice, and suggestions on how to best serve our audience and the world of chemistry.

What is editorial independence, and how does C&EN maintain it?

Editorial independence is crucial for maintaining our audience’s trust and achieving our mission of providing credible, authoritative journalism for chemical scientists. It means that C&EN’s reporters and editors have the freedom to choose which stories to cover and how to cover them without the influence of external parties, including advertisers, companies, institutions, and other units within the American Chemical Society. It means that editorial decisions are made by C&EN staff and that C&EN is solely responsible for the content it produces.

C&EN maintains its independence by enforcing a separation between the editorial staff and other groups, including C&EN BrandLab, ACS Sales and Marketing, and the team at ACS that does communications work for the society. The person whose role is Publisher of C&EN has overall business responsibilities for C&EN but does not influence or interfere with editorial content development. The Publisher interacts primarily with C&EN’s editor in chief and other top editors and works with other staff only when necessary on matters unrelated to editorial content, except in their role managing the production and copyediting team. C&EN’s reporters and editors also do not participate in ACS activities (such as ACS national meetings) in ways that would compromise the independence of their coverage of those activities.

C&EN does collaborate with other parts of ACS to produce certain types of content, such as creating videos with assistance from ACS Productions or producing features for ACS Central Science. In these situations, C&EN retains editorial control and is solely responsible for the content.

How does C&EN keep advertising separate from editorial?

The content of advertising appearing in C&EN’s digital or print products is not shared with reporters and editors before publication, except in the case of underwritten podcast episodes, when it is necessary for production of the podcast. ACS Sales and Marketing staff do not influence editorial content. A calendar consisting of broad topics for feature stories planned for particular publication dates during the year is shared with the sales and marketing team. C&EN editors maintain control over those topics and publication dates.

Staff reporters and editors do not work on advertising or marketing content. Copyeditors, designers, and production staff may work on both editorial and sponsored content.

How does C&EN manage potential conflicts of interest?

C&EN reporters and editors make decisions about what to cover based solely on stories’ editorial merit and value to our audience, not for financial or personal gain. We always try to be aware of how our obligations and interests—even private ones—might affect our reporting. And we make every effort to be as transparent as possible about potential conflicts of interest.

Reporters and editors avoid associations and activities that might compromise their integrity or damage their credibility or have the appearance of doing so. We avoid involvement with and donations to causes or organizations that could create a conflict of interest. These prohibitions do not extend to voting, registering with a political party, or being a member of the American Chemical Society.

Similarly, we do not hold individual financial investments that could create a conflict of interest or the impression of one. Reporters do not write about businesses or organizations in which they or their relatives have a financial interest.

Reporters and editors do not accept payment, favors, or free travel (unless unavoidable for covering a story). They do not accept speakers’ fees or honoraria, although they may accept reimbursement for direct travel expenses for appearances discussing their work at C&EN. Staff are allowed to accept inexpensive promotional items, such as mugs, pens, or notebooks.

When a potential conflict of interest or its appearance is unavoidable, a reporter may choose to recuse themselves or C&EN editors may choose to reassign a story to another reporter. If the reporter does pursue the story, an editor may choose to disclose any potential conflicts within the story.

What is sponsored content?

C&EN uses the label “sponsored content” to identify advertising material that is intended to provide valuable information to C&EN readers. Sponsored content can be either created by advertisers or commissioned by C&EN BrandLab, an in-house, custom content marketing studio. C&EN Brand Lab produces a variety of branded or sponsored content—including native articles, videos, white papers, e-books, and webinars—that is delivered through C&EN’s channels. When C&EN BrandLab commissions freelancers to produce content, they are held to C&EN’s editorial standards and related US Federal Trade Commission guidelines on native advertising.

Certain editorial features (such as C&EN’s Talented 12) are underwritten by sponsors, but those sponsors do not influence or participate in the creation of the content. All editorial decisions on those features are made by C&EN, and the sponsorships are labeled prominently.


Who speaks for C&EN on social media and produces newsletters?

C&EN’s Audience team manages C&EN’s newsletters and C&EN’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Language on the social media platforms is written by the social media team and may be checked by reporters and department editors for accuracy.

Content in the newsletters is curated by the executive editor for audience engagement, and language is drafted by the Audience team and may be checked by reporters and department editors for accuracy.

Issues that arise such as errors on posts, complaints, or comments that are aggressive with threats to harm are reviewed by C&EN leadership and are addressed when necessary.

How do I contact C&EN?

People can provide feedback to C&EN in several ways. See C&EN’s Contact Our Newsroom.