Fellow chemists, let’s address a housekeeping problem. I know that not all of us are thrilled at all times with the American Chemical Society, but I think that we can agree that the journals it runs are (for the most part) a valuable resource.
And in these days of modern times, as the Firesign Theatre used to say, the presence of such journals on the internet is crucial. As many of you know, the ACS recently revamped the web pages for its journals, adding a number of new functions. Unfortunately, they seem to have taken away some at the same time.
Initially, on too many of journal sites, the graphical abstract was presented at a default size of “itsy bitsy”. If you wanted to browse the ASAP in-press articles, you had to squint at tiny, fuzzy blobs to see what the authors of each article wanted you to know about it. And that’s clearly not what a graphical abstract is for, is it? I'm relieved to see that this seems to have improved in the last few days.
But I'm not sure when the change took place, because I hardly ever visit the front doors of the ACS journals I read. That’s because I, like many other scientists, follow these things through RSS feeds. (I use Google Reader myself – if anyone’s just setting up an RSS reader and would like my OPML file, just e-mail me and I’ll send it along and save you some time).
And what does the RSS feed look like now? Well, for several days, there were no graphical abstracts at all, which made the ACS feeds look just as ugly and nonfunctional as the Elsevier ones. Way to go! (Isn’t it odd that Tet Letters, the journal that pioneered the whole idea of a graphical abstract in chemistry, doesn’t include its graphics in its RSS stream? I don’t get any, at any rate). Which reminds me - if you don't care for the Wiley feeds, either, specifically Angewandte Chemie's, you can get a better version of that one here.
I wrote the ACS support people and complained about the problem, and was told that they were fixing things. Well, their idea of a fix is apparently to include the tiny, blurry graphic in the feed – those have started showing up this week, and an irritatingly useless sight they are. This is one of those examples of taking something that was perfectly useful before – the RSS feeds they way they were last month – and improving them into junk. The ACS pages will be down again on Sunday, presumably for more fine-tuning. We'll see if the feeds return to functionality next week. If they don't. . .well, please consider adding your voice to the chorus asking that they do. Thanks!