Chemistry is widely considered to stand at the crossroads of many disciplines, with signposts to molecular, life, materials, polymer, environmental and computer sciences, as well as to physics and mathematics, and even art and design. To collaborate and share research data and ideas across these areas, research scientists must strive (and do not always succeed) to find common languages to express their intended concepts.
(Rzepa, Henry S. (2013). Changing ways of sharing research in chemistry. In: Shorley, Deborah and Jubb, Michael. The Future of Scholarly Communication. London: Facet Publishing. 3).
The following is an abstract of the Henry S. Rzepa’s chapter ‘Changing ways of sharing research in chemistry’ in The Future of Scholarly Communication. A PDF of the full chapter is available for free on the Facet Publishing website.
The challenges of sharing research in chemistry are introduced via the molecule and how its essential information features might be formalized. The review then covers a period of around 33 years, describing how scientists used to share information about the molecule, and how that sharing has evolved during a period that has seen the widespread introduction of several disruptive technologies. These include e-mail and its now ubiquitous attachment, the world wide web and its modern expression via blogs and wikis. The review describes how digital documents have similarly evolved during this period, acquiring in some cases digital rights management, metadata and most recently an existence in the cloud. The review also describes how the dissemination of digital research data has also changed dramatically, the most recent innovation being data repositories, and speculates what the future of sharing research via the latest disruptive technology, tablets, might be.