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About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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April 18, 2010

C&E News - A Few Questions

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Posted by Derek

I'll be traveling Monday, so no new posts during the day. But I'm traveling to something that's of interest to many of the readers here, so I wanted to throw the floor open to questions. I've been invited to be on the editorial advisory board of Chemical and Engineering News, and I'll be meeting with the staff there later this week.

So I wanted to ask the chemists in the crowd: what do you think that C&E News does well, and what do you think it does poorly? Are there topics that you think are covered too much, or some that you think aren't being addressed? Please feel free to add comments - I'll collate them and pass them on to the staff there.

Comments (117) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Press Coverage


COMMENTS

1. RM on April 19, 2010 1:02 AM writes...

As someone in academia, C&EN seems to be rather heavily industry focused. Most of the articles tend to be on various mergers or acquisitions, emerging market trends, or new government regulations which affect the chemical industry. (More "business news", rather than "science news".) I'm not interested so much in more academia-focused stories (those tend to be dull too), but more science-in-general oriented stories. e.g. in a story about a new instrument, I'd prefer to hear more about what scientific discoveries can be made with it, rather than on the corporate governance and the sales projections of the company making it.

Perhaps a business-oriented approach is indeed what's intended - C&EN could indeed be classed as a trade mag. But if that's the case, I don't see why a subscription is included in all ACS memberships, rather than being an optional add-on for industry folks.

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2. milkshake on April 19, 2010 1:29 AM writes...

C&EN is servile to industry management frauds. Its cheerful tone makes me puke.

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3. Joey on April 19, 2010 1:45 AM writes...

I love the mix C&E news has now of academic, government, and industry reporting. They also do a great job balancing the boosterism appropriate for a trade journal with a recognition that the spin of the chemical industry is often neither scientifically valid nor honest. Also, kudos for the regular discussion of issues of importance to chemical educators, and for their reliable inclusion of structures of compounds, particularly drugs. Except for occasionally disingenuous reporting on open access, and the obnoxious back and forth between Baum and letter writers on political hot button issues of marginal relation to chemistry, I wouldn't change a thing.

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4. processchemist on April 19, 2010 2:14 AM writes...

I agree with milkshake. A magazine totally hype oriented, mostly the voice of industry PR representatives. The worst source of information about the real status of our industry.

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5. Evorich on April 19, 2010 3:00 AM writes...

Needs more honesty about our industry; particularly with respect to the job prospects of young ACS members coming into this market and whether we're actually producing too many PhD chemists.

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6. stuff on April 19, 2010 3:04 AM writes...

Its European industry coverage has deteriorated considerably in the last year. Especially disappointing since some of the world's biggest chemcials firms are in Europe.

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7. Jose on April 19, 2010 3:05 AM writes...

"v Pravde net izvestiy, v Izvestiyakh net pravdy" (In the Truth there is no news, and in the [C&E] News there is no truth). :)

We definately also need at least another "Paints and Varnishes" issue a year, one is simply not enough!

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8. james on April 19, 2010 3:42 AM writes...

the ideal ad does have a value to the target group (and, yes,
the advertiser of course).

the digital briefs in c&en were something in between
a full blown ad and a dry announcement:
an industry-submitted piece of text which
underwent editorial checking.

i've been missing the digital briefs for quite some time,
i know of people who had remarkable impact - proving
they were read a lot.

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9. dabut on April 19, 2010 5:19 AM writes...

one strange sidenote-I would love to be in your shoes "on the inside" and see how feature academia articles get chosen. Over the last half of the last decade, it has given the appearance that academicians can become self-made through the mag if they chose to be. I'm thinking of 1-2 professors who tend to show up either with a concentrate or a feature article after EVERY publication. I've always wondered if they make a call to a friend/whether they've signed a deal, etc.

anyhow, I've always wanted a forum called "hindsight" where the "pop culture" aspect of academia is ignored, and someone in the know looks back 5 years and says "hey, here was a publication that had some impact" and discusses its scientific merit and why it has stayed relevant.

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10. Thomas McEntee on April 19, 2010 6:38 AM writes...

I've read C&EN off and on for 40+ years. My likes and dislikes about it have roughly tracked chemistry's viability as a career track over that period of time. Armed with my recently-minted ACS-certified undergraduate degree, as a graduate student and new ACS member, I thought pretty highly of C&EN...but what frame of reference did I have? In 1986, about fifteen years after getting my PhD, I found myself the victim of a folded start-up and suddenly, the only thing that mattered were those employment ads in the back of C&EN. I can't imagine relying on C&EN for someone in that position today but that's not C&EN's responsibility. What IS C&EN's responsibility is to report truthfully on what's important to ACS members. And it's here that I begin to agree with milkshake, processchemist, Evorich, and others who decry the everything's-so-wonderful tone that permeate so many of the stories.

Why such an enthusiastic tone about a profession that basically is going down the tubes as a lifelong career? It could be due to edicts from upon high within ACS, it could simply be enthusiastic young reporters who have no idea about chemistry and probably no perspective of trends over decades with respect to chemistry as a career. I can't fault the kids...they want to do their job well.

C&EN reached out to Derek because he's smart and he writes very good stuff about provocative topics. I think it's a win-win for all so long as Derek promises to keep this forum active and ACS doesn't pressure him to change his ways.

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11. Karen on April 19, 2010 6:49 AM writes...

As someone who has left pharma and moved into another field, I appreciate that C&E News gives a brief overview of a lot of different areas of chemistry, including industry, academia and government. Even though I no longer attend conferences and read journals, I can keep up with what's going on, at least in a very general way. However, their career articles have become extremely unrealistic and misleading. It's almost a joke - any time they talk about people being laid off, the spin will be "but they're much happier now!!" It's almost become insulting.

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12. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 7:12 AM writes...

I agree with Karen's comment - I can read trade journals in my own area, but C&E News keeps me updated on the business situation in other fields of chemistry.

I've had two year-long stretches of unemployment in the last 6 years, and the ACS's constant crying about how America has a shortage of scientists makes my blood boil!

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13. RB Woodweird on April 19, 2010 7:27 AM writes...

All I know is that C&E News provided the following review of S. A. Scoggin's novel A Novel And Efficient Synthesis of Cadaverine:

"S. A. Scoggin's amateurish scribblings reveal nothing but the author's inflated sense of importance. Real chemists would never satirize the chemical industry, the benevolent stewards of their loyal chemists' lives.

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14. ChemEng on April 19, 2010 7:31 AM writes...

"why such an enthusiastic tone about a profession that basically is going down the tubes as a lifelong career?"

Advertising is placed where it will best promote the company, and CEN is one of the most expensive ads you can place.

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15. Risedog on April 19, 2010 8:03 AM writes...

I haven’t missed CEN in years. The only thing that was of interest was the employment surveys.
Derek, they could use some salt and light, but I have a hard time believing they’ll really want you to supply it. As everyone has already noted, it’s about advertising and lobbying for academic funding.

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16. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 8:05 AM writes...

I stopped renewing my subscription about 2-3 years ago. I found C&EN news irrelevant. Like many commenters said above, I was sick of the constant "chemistry is great, everybody should be going into chemistry" when in reality thousands of people were being laid off in big pharma at the time. A more unbiased, fact-based reporting system would go a long way.

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17. cookingwithsolvents on April 19, 2010 8:08 AM writes...

I second the idea of a "hindsight" series highlighting of articles that were published 5-10 years ago. That will be a lively discussion area.

They also need to improve their coverage of PV's and other chemical contributions to renewables and energy. This is an area where chemists can really make a difference and likely to be a growing industry for some time.

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18. medchem23 on April 19, 2010 8:09 AM writes...

Waste of time. The information available on the internet makes this publication a waste of trees!

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19. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 8:19 AM writes...

I am particularly tired of long articles and rankings related to the chemical industry and suppliers (Dow, DuPont, etc).

I don't know if they changed the format of "newscripts", but I used to open directly to that section when I got my issue. Now I find the entries (more often than not) pretty boring. Termites? Really?

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20. anonymous on April 19, 2010 8:22 AM writes...

Yes, I agree that the coverage of European chemistry topics could be better. Never mind those of the Middle East. Which is why Derek, you should pass along the following offer to CEN:

"I am willing to be the Egypt/Israel/Jordan based reporter for CEN. I am an excellent writer with a PhD in chemistry and I have been reading CEN and chemistry blogs for the last five years. The number of articles published in top journals, start-up companies in biotech, and venture capital in Israel is mind-boggling and CEN would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to pay me 60K a year to cover this very exciting and promising part of the world. Israel is #2 on the Nasdaq stock index in the number of companies represented by country. I am also willing to accept investigative assignments to Morocco, Greece, Italy, and Spain as long as my flight tickets and hotel bills are paid." I believe they already have a correspondent for the colder parts of Europe so my knowledge of French and German is useless (but I would go there in the summer if it was urgent). I am willing to undergo training in DC for a year as long as they promise no repeat of this year's record snowstorm.

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21. anonymous on April 19, 2010 8:22 AM writes...

Yes, I agree that the coverage of European chemistry topics could be better. Never mind those of the Middle East. Which is why Derek, you should pass along the following offer to CEN:

"I am willing to be the Egypt/Israel/Jordan based reporter for CEN. I am an excellent writer with a PhD in chemistry and I have been reading CEN and chemistry blogs for the last five years. The number of articles published in top journals, start-up companies in biotech, and venture capital in Israel is mind-boggling and CEN would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to pay me 60K a year to cover this very exciting and promising part of the world. Israel is #2 on the Nasdaq stock index in the number of companies represented by country. I am also willing to accept investigative assignments to Morocco, Greece, Italy, and Spain as long as my flight tickets and hotel bills are paid." I believe they already have a correspondent for the colder parts of Europe so my knowledge of French and German is useless (but I would go there in the summer if it was urgent). I am willing to undergo training in DC for a year as long as they promise no repeat of this year's record snowstorm.

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22. jon on April 19, 2010 8:41 AM writes...

I don't care one way or the other about CEN (although I agree with some of the comments about blind cheerleading for more chemists when we obviously don't need them), but while you are there, ask them what it is the ACS actually does for its membership? In return for the dues they have collected dues for decades, they built a massive building for themselves, and have the biggest booth in the front of the exhibition hall at national meetings. Apart from that, I am not aware of one thing the ACS has done, let alone anything to benefit the people that are members. It seems like the mission of the ACS is the ACS, not the people who foot the bill.

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23. anonymous on April 19, 2010 8:42 AM writes...

Yes, I agree that the coverage of European chemistry topics could be better. Never mind those of the Middle East. Which is why Derek, you should pass along the following offer to CEN:

"I am willing to be the Egypt/Israel/Jordan based reporter for CEN. I am an excellent writer with a PhD in chemistry and I have been reading CEN and chemistry blogs for the last five years. The number of articles published in top journals, start-up companies in biotech, and venture capital in Israel is mind-boggling and CEN would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to pay me 60K a year to cover this very exciting and promising part of the world. Israel is #2 on the Nasdaq stock index in the number of companies represented by country. I am also willing to accept investigative assignments to Morocco, Greece, Italy, and Spain as long as my flight tickets and hotel bills are paid." I believe they already have a correspondent for the colder parts of Europe so my knowledge of French and German is useless (but I would go there in the summer if it was urgent). I am willing to undergo training in DC for a year as long as they promise no repeat of this year's record snowstorm.

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24. Mike on April 19, 2010 8:56 AM writes...

Between the fluff pieces, the non-realistic-rosy-outlook employment articles, the "we need more chemists, to make the unemployment glut larger" blurbs, the statistics pieces, and the partisan editorial screeds; I wish there was a way to opt out of paying the mandatory fee in the ACS dues so I wouldn't have to waste energy every week recycling C&EN after absentmindedly leafing through it.

Was there a time in the past when this was our trade journal? Because if you compare it to other trade societies, it definitely is not one.

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25. Sili on April 19, 2010 9:00 AM writes...

Congrats! I hope it pays well. (You deserve it.)

I'm in the RSC, so I have no knowledge of C&EN. And I tend to only do the crossword in Chem. World, so I don't have much to opine about that, either.

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26. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 9:08 AM writes...

In fact, C&EN is becoming less relevant because it lacks insights and honest opinions from experts. I read more often your blog than C&EN news. Too much emphasis on "news value" makes it a hype-maker. It is an improvement that they invited you to be on the advisory board.

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27. partial agonist on April 19, 2010 9:22 AM writes...

one small request:

Now when you submit your membership to ACS, you can choose to receive C&E News electronically rather than in the mail. If you pick that option, I am sure that you save the ACS lots of money in printing costs, postage, etc.

But... picking that option does NOT give you any discount. I would think that if they threw out a bone, even small such as $10 off, they would get a whole lot more takers on the electronic option and save more money than they lose by the lowered income. Granted, most people with full-time jobs in industry have their ACS dues paid for them, but still I would think that this idea makes sense.

Content-wise, I am fairly happy with C&E News. I usually read the back page, skim the letters, and skim any story that catches my eye that is previewed on the cover. I probably devote about 5 minutes to each issue, 10 minutes if I look over more than one story. Do I read it cover-to-cover? Almost never. The only time i do that is when I happen to be traveling and take a few recent issues on a plane.

I go to ACS meetings so at first I missed the issue where they have the full meeting program included. I realize that such an issue must have been expensive to produce (it was THICK), and I am now used to going to the online program, so it is not the big deal that I first thought.

The C&E News online blog has improved rather dramatically, in my opinion, over the last year. I suggest that people check it out. I think I get more out of it than I do from the C&E News issues themselves.

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28. Patrick on April 19, 2010 9:25 AM writes...

With all of the chemistry lay-offs in big pharma and the very thin employment section in C&E News I would like to see articles on job prospects in the industry, how chemist are reinventing them selves for chemistry jobs in 2010, how long a typical job search takes, are there any regions of the country that are hot beds for chemistry employment.....?

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29. okemist on April 19, 2010 9:32 AM writes...

In a period of time where the lobby is king in DC an organization with the membership of the ACS and it's weekly communication of c&en are unbeleivably impotent. All varied industries that are all built on chemistry and just pilfered technology and run to foreign manufacturing or phizered other companies and emasculated research departments are crimes against all of us, and as milkshake et al have said before c&en just print a managment statement about streamling efforts. Just like all other american industrial manufacturing, we won't produce chemicals here, they nickle and dime you to get a process to 10k a kg and sell it for dollars per mg.
I would revisit the organization of chemical researchers union on the national scale in c&en but lobies have destroyed the remaining unions what chance would a new one have in a dieing industry.

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30. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 9:36 AM writes...

Derek,
Never turn down an opportunity to infiltrate.

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31. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 9:44 AM writes...

I'm sorry if I sound sexist, but I'm tired of the women in chemistry articles as well. The topic does have merit, but not enough to warrant a full issue every year, in my opinion. Every year it's the same thing: "The number of females in all levels of chemistry degree programs is up from last year." Inevitably, the letters ensue that proclaim academic chemistry is still a boy's club and women are shut out or held back by their male counterparts. What follows that are letters from people who say the statistics at their schools are MUCH more fair and that women make up X% more of the faculty than the statistic reports.

In light of the number of people that feel disgruntled about ACS's perennial rosy outlook on employment in chemistry, perhaps more focus could be put on alternative careers for chemists rather than solely emphasizing academic, pharma, or fine chemicals?

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32. NH_chem on April 19, 2010 9:53 AM writes...

Seems to allow articles that tend to subtly promote certain companies. Rather frustrating to smaller companies looking for exposure. Sure one loves the big CMO/CROs but there are others out there that do good work.

I think that the staff writers tend to go to a very few selected consultants for quotes and feedback. They could gather more information by going to local meetings and such. That recent ACS Symposium in Cambridge was a good place to talk to people about a variety of subjects.

Just a few thoughts.....good luck!

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33. Chris on April 19, 2010 9:53 AM writes...

C&EN has virtually no discussion of some issues that ACS could view as controversial. Specific examples are the growth of freely available chemistry information online, eg. Chemspider or the trend to deposit structures at time of publication into freely accessible databases, eg. Nature Chemical Biology. When one checks the NIH web site for deposition of NIH funded articles the omission of ACS journals is apparent. To my knowledge I have never seen any kind of mission statement with respect to the future of chemo-informatics from ACS and as a long time ACS member I wonder where the ACS journals are evolving. I hope that whoever is in charge at ACS is confident that the societies services and publications will survive in the changing publishing environment.

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34. Anon on April 19, 2010 9:56 AM writes...

I would like more highlights from the recent chemical literature and a lot less of the bullcrap promoting industry.

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35. Vern on April 19, 2010 10:20 AM writes...

I was a member of C&E News for almost twenty years. Once I realized the top management of ACS had compensation in the million dollar range I decided not to renew the membership in ACS.

Derek, in my opinion, you will lose credibility by associating with ACS and C&E News

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36. SteveM on April 19, 2010 10:21 AM writes...

The 800 pound gorilla topic that should get a full issue play in C&E News is H-1B.

There are thousands of American Citizen Chemists out of work, yet H-1B keeps humming along. But that story won't get told because the companies that buy the ads want a cheap, compliant work force.

The "prevailing wage" argument doesn't fly because the H-1B labor glut drives the prevailing wage down through simple supply and demand.

Ironically, the C&E Life is Beautiful propaganda is probably targeting Asian scientists to H-1B over here and knock more Americans out of work.

I'm not a nativist, but given the state of the economy, I'm not stupid either.

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37. Evorich on April 19, 2010 10:22 AM writes...

On a positive note: The online/website version of the magazine works really nicely.

When positivity about some area of science is well founded, the articles are good and you do feel like you're keeping track of many areas.

I would prefer more articles from places of the world that aren't the US since a lot of ACS members are not in the US.

Maybe Derek you could enable this survey that could help us figure exactly where all these laid off chemists actually go to. Do people maintain their C&E/ACS membership when they're unemployed though?

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38. anon the II on April 19, 2010 10:22 AM writes...

I think my sentiments are like a lot of chemists who are old enough to have enjoyed a career in chemistry but not old enough to have made it last till retirement age.

I used to enjoy C&E News. Lately, it and the ACS in general, tends to tick me off more often than not. The recent guest editorial by Ted Kaufman, Democratic senator from Delaware, on the need to train more and more scientists was a good example.

The ACS also sends out a lot of chipper career advice emails from 35 year old career consultants. One recent one, describing how you wouldn't lose your job if your just kept up with modern technology, made me mad enough to reply with language that I wouldn't want anyone else to see.

The big problem is that chemistry as a career in the US is in trouble. The ACS and its mouthpiece, C&E News, have always been about the ACS and the people who pay their bills (mostly companies) and not about "American Chemists". It's only when things get bad that you find out who your real friends are. I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed.

But I did take advantage of their dues waver for the unemployed.

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39. Anthony on April 19, 2010 10:25 AM writes...

I am a PhD chemist without work for 14 months. Reading C&E News makes me wonder " Am I the only one without a job while chemistry and chemical industry is doing so wonderfully?"

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40. partial agonist on April 19, 2010 10:28 AM writes...

#34, Highlights from the literature would be of value, but the ORG and MEDI divisions of ACS are just a small part of the whole organization. If they highlighted 10 papers, there would be only a couple of relevance to me.

Every time I go to an ACS meeting I am reminded that, as big as the ORG and MEDI divisions are, there are 31 other technical divisions and some of them are also quite big (polymers, biochem, industrial and engineering, petroleum, fuel, health and safety, business development, etc.)

A hot papers section would be more of a division responsibility. Maybe in the electronic subscription they could include a hot papers analysis for the division or divisions that you belong to?

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41. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 10:37 AM writes...

Occasionally these issues with 30 pages of statistics on the industry and other things come out. Who really reads this stuff? More articles, less stats please.

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42. pc on April 19, 2010 10:42 AM writes...

Disclaimer: We are an advertiser on C&E News.

It seems the readership of this trade mag has been deteriorating over the years. We mainly target medi chem folks. I sincerely believe we do provide useful products and we want to reach out to our potential customers, and hopefully it's a win-win. Can any of you medi chem researchers suggest venues that you value and visit most? In other words, if you are in our shoes where would you want to put your ads? We hope to spend our limited ad budgets more wisely to get the related info out to you in a more effective way. Well the one I can immediately think of is this site, but ...

Out of respect for this site and its readers, I decide not to place a plug here to promote us (although Derek may well just remove it even if I put it there :).

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43. anon the II on April 19, 2010 11:00 AM writes...

to "Disclaimer: We are an advertiser on C&E News"

I would say you should place your ads on the "Help Wanted" pages. That's what a lot of med chemists are reading these days. They'll be more aware of you if they ever get back to work.

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44. Thatone on April 19, 2010 11:05 AM writes...

I agree with dabut- the same profs' work shows up time and time again (Verdine in particular), seemingly just for publishing a paper.

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45. J-bone on April 19, 2010 11:27 AM writes...

On the note of choosing print vs electronic subscription, this option wasn't available when I became a member. When it did, I chose to switch to electronic since I knew how obnoxious it was when grad students would finish and their issues of C&EN would end up flooding the department mailboxes for quite some time afterwards. The process of switching could stand some streamlining (if I'm not mistaken, print copies are the default choice, not electronic). When I switched, I had to send an e-mail request to switch, then wait for a reply e-mail that contained a link to confirm my decision to get electronic copy instead of paper. It should be just a matter of logging in and checking a box.

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46. startup on April 19, 2010 11:53 AM writes...

#9. I believe I can shed some light on the issue. One floor in our building is occupied by a very well known scientist whose work was featured in the said section numerous times. I talked to his people people about that a while back and was pretty much told that when their boss wants his work to be highlighted by C&EN he makes a call there and solicits a piece. I have to assume that most of the concentrates are like that.

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47. Larry on April 19, 2010 11:54 AM writes...

Ask them if they're hiring you for the sole reason of silencing one of the few media outlets (yes I consider you one) that critically addresses both the industry and academia.

I somehow doubt this blog will survive.

C&E news is, as one poster mentioned, a Pravda rag that is servile to both industry CEOs and of course the tenured academic.

You might tell them to stop going to Washington claiming to be my representative and carrying out devious acts to undermine the future of US scientists. Particularly that 'there exists a shortage of US chemists' and 'we need more h1-b visas' to be competitive.

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48. Larry on April 19, 2010 12:07 PM writes...

What irritates most about CEN is the editor's political injections and published letters more appropriate to Kos or Huffpo that denigrate those with whom he disagrees.

Time for another Women in Chemistry article.

What a great time to be a chemist.

I feel better. Hope you get the job, Derek.

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49. Chemjobber on April 19, 2010 12:19 PM writes...

It's a magazine that tries to be all things to most chemists -- that's pretty tough and they do a good job overall.

That being said, I think there just isn't the emphasis on current employment trends that there should be. The overall morale of the workforce is pretty poor; I don't see that reflected very well in the pages of C&EN.

A simple question: the ACS employment survey reports employment numbers that most people have a difficult time believing. Why is that?

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50. Devraj on April 19, 2010 12:34 PM writes...

With all the layoffs in big-pharma and decline of career prospects for chemists in US, I would like to see articles on alternative careers for chemists and how people have re-invented themselves and moved on to newer careers in Regulatory, Clinical, Business development etc.

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51. Sili on April 19, 2010 12:58 PM writes...

I somehow doubt this blog will survive.
I have my disagreements with dr Lowe's political views, and I think he's horribly denialist about certain issues of science.

But that I don't believe. I think this blog does far more for his image than any editorship can ever do. I have too much respect for him to believe that he'd 'sell out' like that.

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52. SRC on April 19, 2010 1:21 PM writes...

I'm with Larry and some others upthread.

Dial back the constant drumbeat of "women in chemistry" crap, and especially the "we need more chemists" nonsense.

Also lose the palpable political slant. It's all too apparent what C&EN reporters think, and that's unprofessional. On things such as global warming, which C&EN takes as read. there are lots of bases for skepticism. As Jack Webb used to say, iust the facts, ma'am.

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53. Sili on April 19, 2010 1:47 PM writes...

there are lots of bases for skepticism.
Ah. I see. I guess I have to reëvaluate my opinion a bit. Sounds like they're at least based in reälity when in comes to AGW.

There are "lots of bases for skepticism" when it comes the theories of gravity, electromagnetism, evolution, meteorology and the claimed roundness of the Earth, too.

Are you by any chance a fan a of Insane Clown Posse?

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54. startup on April 19, 2010 1:50 PM writes...

#51-52. Thanks for reminding me. That incessant channeling of Al Gore is indeed annoying.

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55. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 2:06 PM writes...

I almost never read C&E News anymore. Look over the comments here and you'll see many of the same common elements. I agree that it has virtually no objective value as a publication, since it's mostly an advertising vehicle dominated by ACC companies. Like most other traditional "news" media, blogs have made it obsolete.

The other problem, which has been discussed many times, is the magazines' seeming obliviousness or callousness to the plight of chemists. As an unemployed pharma small molecule expert, I agree that we have too many PhD chemists. Those of you who are still in school, if you want to maximize your chances for gainful employment, get a biology focused degree. The day of the chemist is over.

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56. mrtwoiron on April 19, 2010 2:13 PM writes...

DL, please don't go to C&EN and waste your time over there. Drug discovery needs you.

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57. milkshake on April 19, 2010 2:47 PM writes...

No, Derek, go to C&EN but do not just sit on the editors board. Try to stir up that stagnant pond. Then quit in disgust and write up for us a Pipeline miniseries "What went wrong with C$EN and ACS"

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58. startup on April 19, 2010 2:52 PM writes...

Yep, make them rue the day.

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59. john on April 19, 2010 2:57 PM writes...

Derek,

Add one more to the pile of posts asking "why is the ACS the only professional society in the world that does not represent the interests of its dues-paying members?"

john

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60. Cut Chemist on April 19, 2010 3:00 PM writes...

C&EN's lack of focus on the realistic employment situation in our field has me baffled. What do they gain by not displaying it accurately?? Why isn't there more public outrage with regard to the Visa problem mentioned previously (47. Larry)??

*(I am an 5-years experienced Ph.D. med chemist going on 10-months of unemployment)

If anyone has any suggestions on how I (and others in my boat) can reinvent ourselves I'm all ears. You won't get that kind of advice out of C&EN.

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61. FMC on April 19, 2010 3:21 PM writes...

@36 SteveM: Steve, given that you are not a nativist, I must say you certainly sound like one

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62. john on April 19, 2010 3:40 PM writes...

Recognizing the very important contributions made by non-US born scientists, and having many close friends who made their homes here after getting their first job with an H1b visa, I understand that this is a sensitive subject.

Nonetheless, I think the employment situation has gotten bad enough to where there is no point in adding to the current labor surplus. There are vast numbers of highly qualified people already here, including both those who were born here and those who immigrated and have lived here many years. Many find themselves kicked to the curb in favor of less expensive recent graduates after careers that lasted less time than they spent in training.

I would add that in addition to controlling the H-1b visa supply, there should be some limit on the use of NIH grants to fund grad student research stipends. Its a waste of the taxpayers money to spend money training additional people for a career in which there is already an oversupply of talent.

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63. chemist on April 19, 2010 4:04 PM writes...

Should you go, I hope it doesn't compromise In the Pipeline and that you'll be prepared to leave C&EN if it does.

I have been close enough to some of the stories behind the stories in C&EN to wonder how things could be described so differently from what I knew them to be. Many years ago, an article praised a graduate student for a discovery that was actually made and further researched by a post-doc a year before the student ever set foot on campus. I don't remember if the post-doc's name was even mentioned in the article.

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64. p on April 19, 2010 4:12 PM writes...

"The day of the chemist is over."

No, it isn't. That isn't to say that the rosy worldview of C&EN has any validity. But you can easily go too far the other direction. 100 years from now people will still be designing, making and analyzing chemical entities. What C&EN should be doing - what everyone associated with chemistry should be doing - is trying to figure out why chemistry employment is down, what we need chemistry to do for society and how to make sure society compensates chemists for their contribution.

I think it is true that we need more chemists (and scientists and engineers, as well). But we need them doing chemistry, science and engineering with abundant resources. If society doesn't want to employ them, there is no rational reason for people to go into the field but what chemists do IS important. Sure, it might make sense for any individual, in the short term, to switch to sales, regulatory, etc., but those people are no longer making stuff and analyzing stuff. They're no longer innovating. It isn't just a problem for chemists that chemists aren't working as much as they used to, it's a problem for society. That it isn't a problem that is, today, recognized by society doesn't change that.

ACS should be leading the way in figuring out how to make "chemistry work" and C&EN should be leading the way in reporting and commenting on how we move from one era of chemistry to the next and both should be helping individual chemists figure out how to best contribute to chemistry while maximizing their interests and well-being at the same time.

Basically, Derek, C&EN should report on the question of what chemistry is, what it means to society and how best to proceed so that chemists get to be compensated and recognized for being chemists.

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65. bbooooooya on April 19, 2010 4:14 PM writes...

"There are thousands of American Citizen Chemists out of work, yet H-1B keeps humming along."

Businesses seek to hire the best people at the best price. if it where cheaper to hire Americans and achieve the same level of productivity they would get hired.

Look around most grad schools,~1/2 in chemistry are foreigners. The top Americans go to finance and law.

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66. p on April 19, 2010 4:16 PM writes...

By the way, I don't read Derek's post to be saying he'll be interviewing with C&EN. It looks to me like it's a done deal. Derek, if I read that wrong, feel free to correct me.

Like the others, I hope you won't let being an editor there change your blog (or that, if it does, you'll leave one or the other). But, then, I hope that of any editor at any publication and have no reason to worry about your motivations or integrity. Good luck. I hope it works out for you and that you can do the journal some good.

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67. SteveM on April 19, 2010 4:47 PM writes...

Re: 65

"Look around most grad schools,~1/2 in chemistry are foreigners. The top Americans go to finance and law."

Exactly because of the vicious circle glut of H-1B's. The glut drives down the average wage. And why would an American kid bust his/her hump studying science or engineering when the wage rates are distorted by immigration. And they would have to compete against H-1B's who will do the indentured servant thing for a Green Card.

For every uniquely talented H-1B, 1,000 other pedestrian Asian technologists ride their coattails into the country because the Crony Capitalists simply prefer cheaper, compliant labor.

Nothing against those people personally, but giving them jobs while talented American citizens sit at home twiddling their thumbs makes absolutely no sense.

If anyone thinks it does, please explain how...

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68. bbooooooya on April 19, 2010 5:12 PM writes...

"For every uniquely talented H-1B, 1,000 other pedestrian Asian technologists ride their coattails into the country because the Crony Capitalists simply prefer cheaper, compliant labor."

No. "crony capitalists' are after most productivity per $. if this is not their goal, they are not capitalists.

"but giving them jobs while talented American citizens sit at home twiddling their thumbs makes absolutely no sense."

What % of pharma workforce is H-1b holder? And, please, I am asking for actual data here, not just "well, I see a lot of those darn Asians around".

But you are right, if the Americans can provide the same value, it does not make sense that they are unemployed, and any 'crony capitalist' wishing to stay in business would employ them in favor of one of those darn foreigners. 'crony capitalists' care about making money, nothing else, including the origin of workers.

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69. vittorio montanari on April 19, 2010 5:21 PM writes...

As a younger ACS member in the early 90's I recall with fondness the trade ACS publication ChemTech. It had useful industrial news and inspiring, witty commentaries. It was crafted by fellow craftsmen and looked the part. Would Derek look into what exactly caused its demise, possibly a symptom of what ailments started afflicting ACS? I would recommend as a focused and careerist-free craftsman's publication these days the American Society's for Quality QP (Quality Progress). It has a clear mission and just follows it. This is obviously a judgement call, but I think that if C&EN tried to be like QP, at least it would not go from mailbox to rubbish bin in three seconds flat.

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70. MedChem on April 19, 2010 5:48 PM writes...

SteveM

There may be an element of truth in your comment that H1b workers drag down overall wages. However, I don't think companies, at least pharma companies, hire them because they're cheaper. In fact, these people are MORE expensive because 1) they're paid on the same level as an equivalent Ameircan worker and 2) the company would have to pay attorney fees on various immigration issues. Cheaper or more expensive, I actually think this cost thing is irrelevent--the company will hire the best candidate they can find at that given time, be it an American or not, period. I'd go as far as to say that to compete with the Americans, the foreign scientist needs to be better just to balance out the added overhead mentioned above.

That said, I absolutely agree that the US doesn't need to crank out nearly as many chemists as it does right now, especially foreign PhDs. You can blame that on academic's dependence on cheap, mostly foreign-born graduate students.

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71. Don Corleone on April 19, 2010 6:02 PM writes...

As a former Ph.D. chemist, now re-inventing myself developing pharmaceutical-realted software (my own shop), I am totally sympathetic with my fellow chemists who are laid off and agree with you about H-1B visa thing. I am immigrant myself(been American citizen 10+ years). But as a employer, I have to find best talent at LOWEST price at any means necessary. Otherwise, my company can't compete. That is why most of our coding work are done in India (I am not even an Indian, mind you). We do the design and they code. And you can't believe how inexpensive they are (1/3 to 1/4 the price compared to U.S. programmer)and how hard they work. If we supervise closely, they do very good job. I understand the pain. And it may sound non-patriotic. But that is the reality beyond anybody's control.

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72. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 6:11 PM writes...

Over funding of academic institutions have resulted in Profs flooding their labs with the cheapest, most hardworking, easily manipulated labor they can find. It's not a knock on foreign students but it’s the truth. So instead of funding innovative science based start ups that create jobs, you get 100's of arguably useless Suzuki/click/ direct arylation chemistry papers.

Medical doctors protect their industry carefully by not allowing every Tom Dick and Sally to peruse a medical degree. I also think the average time to gain a PhD is absurd and exploitative and should be limited to 3 years maximum.

I completely respect my female colleagues, but agree on over coverage of women in chemistry, and also a scholarship bias towards them.

Advice to those who lost their jobs.

Start thinking outside of Pharma and innovate new chemical products. 3M mighty putty and all those automotive cleaners make millions! That or start breaking bad.

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73. SRC on April 19, 2010 6:12 PM writes...

There are "lots of bases for skepticism" when it comes the theories of gravity, electromagnetism, evolution, meteorology and the claimed roundness of the Earth, too.

Profoundly stupid comment that no scientist would ever make. And one didn't.

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74. partial agonist on April 19, 2010 6:14 PM writes...

Vern, post 35, said "Once I realized the top management of ACS had compensation in the million dollar range I decided not to renew the membership in ACS"

Can somebody verify this? That seems odd and my entire opinion of the organization would be far worse if I knew that our dues were supporting guys making in the 7 figure range.

I would think that some docmentation be available to ACS members to tell us what ACS bigwigs pull in.

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75. partial agonist on April 19, 2010 6:35 PM writes...

OK, google is my friend.

In 2008, Madeleine Jacobs pulled in 936K, and Bob Massie over a cool million.

www-DOT-idontcare.com/acs/

you get the idea, replace "-DOT-" with a dot

It seems a lot, for a non-profit

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76. Jose on April 19, 2010 7:08 PM writes...

I think it would be great the get them to do a *real* (proper methodology) employment survey. The standard RoThumb for mail response is that unless it is 70%, you data is highly suspect. Use some of our money to hire a proper survey team!

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77. once again on April 19, 2010 7:19 PM writes...

BORING and TEDIOUS.

Another example where Derek is simply promoting Derek.

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78. ECG on April 19, 2010 7:35 PM writes...

Best advice for C&E news - go for quality over quantity. Every week is a ridiculous publication frequency when there is actually little of importance in it(unless you consider an analysis of world sulfuric acid production important). Go to once monthly, drop all the tables of who produced what and for how much, and put some science in there. Oh, and make the subscription optional and offer a discount on ACS dues if you don't want it.

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79. z on April 19, 2010 8:18 PM writes...

When I think that I have something like thirty more years to go until I can retire, that thought absolutely terrifies me. I don't know what sort of glasses C&EN sees the world through, but they are seeing something completely different from what I'm seeing. I would like more honesty about where the industry seems to be headed, and how the American Chemical Society plans to ensure a future for chemistry in America.

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80. rr on April 19, 2010 8:23 PM writes...

O/T, but Derek it'd be great if you could comment on this week's issue of cancer cell--almost every article has a small molecule that works in animal cancer models.

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81. Anonymous on April 19, 2010 8:33 PM writes...

Hey Derek, tell the ACS to go **** themselves.

I think everyone is either angry or apathetic. They are useless bunch of aholes that had the chance to be the voice of the American chemist but instead sold us out.

I canceled mine a long time ago. I you should all coordinate a day where everyone cancels their memberships and sends an email to the ACS. How about May 1st, let’s coordinate.

Let’s see how much compensation they get with just naïve student memberships.

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82. SRC on April 19, 2010 9:13 PM writes...

In 2008, Madeleine Jacobs pulled in 936K, and Bob Massie over a cool million.

Yow! For writing that socialist drivel, in a publication that is the geeks' answer to People? I sense a disturbance in the Force. A big ass disturbance, too.

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83. Old-Timey on April 19, 2010 9:35 PM writes...

I agree with # 81. Right on, brother.

I was a member back in grad school when my advisor wanted me to present at an ACS conference. I remember I received a mug as a "one year" anniversary gift. Put the pretty mug through the dishwasher one time and all the paint/dye smeared, making the big "1" look it had a Salvador Dali treatment. And even better, the mug was "made in China". Nice!! way to go ACS. You really support American industry.

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84. dead chemist walking on April 19, 2010 11:24 PM writes...

The ACS is only about the well being of the ACS and its management. After 35 years of membership in that POS, I quit. I could not stand being a member of a society that could care less about its membership's problems, denies any problems we face, and in fact, actively works against the interests of its members.

The ACS is constantly pushing for ever increasing numbers of graduate students despite massive contractions in emplyment, AKA downsizngs, in the petrochemical, fine chemical, agchem and now pharma and biotech industries in the US during the past 30 years. Salaries have been flat and at times even decreased for decades suggesting there has never been a shortage of chemists. Any argument about the best and bightest is pure BS as seen by the bell curves we are all rated against. Why are we training a bunch of average rated chemists anyway if we only want to hire the best and brightest? We should limit training only to the best if that is all industry wants.

As tax payers, we all pay for the content of the ACS journals. We are asked to freely give our time to review their journal manuscripts. The ACS copyrights content we pay taxes to generate and then charge us an arm and a leg to read that content. They lobby like a panicked lion to deny us free access to that content, yet will never lift a finger to help solve our pay and employment issues if they acknowledge our issues at all.

The ACS could care less if we all quit as the don't care about us or our problems away. If you want to really send them a message start lobbying- strong arming- congress to ban copyright privileges on government funded R&D. Support open access and the world might just become a better place for chemists in so many ways.

Once the ACS can't make a ton of money for the ACS bosses being a nonprofit publisher with free content, they might decide members are what really matter and start looking out for the members who will then be the major source of funds. We can always hope they will someday get religion. Well probably not, good luck changing careers!

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85. Sili on April 20, 2010 1:14 AM writes...

BORING and TEDIOUS.

Another example where Derek is simply promoting Derek.


Surprise! It's his semprini blog. If he wants to liveblog his pedicure that his Belgium privilege. Go read C&EN if you're that bored.
Best advice for C&E news - go for quality over quantity. Every week is a ridiculous publication frequency when there is actually little of importance in it
Every week?! FOOF! No surprise people are so annoyed with the thing. Permalink to Comment

86. Curt Fischer on April 20, 2010 1:22 AM writes...

I am shocked to hear the bitterness behind many of these comments. I actually like leafing through my copies of C&EN, because I like chemistry. C&EN is good; it makes trade magazines from other fields seem amateurish (q.v. Chemical Engineering Progress or ASM News). I started grads school admissions essays with the sentence, "It was in the pages of C&ENews that I realized that a career at the interface of [blah blah blah] was for me."

Here's what I think:

0. Overall, C&EN is pretty good. I enjoy the breadth of its coverage, and I am forced to admit that I enjoy receiving it in print.

1. The ACS should not use my dues money to advocate visa restriction or labor protectionism. Likewise, C&EN should not fill up its pages with advocacy for visa restrictions or labor protectionism. It isn't the American Chemists' Society; its the American Chemical Society. The difference is important. The ACS is not a union and C&EN is not a union advocacy newsletter.

2. Blogs are not replacements for C&EN. The dismissive comment by ECG@77 is a great example of why, unless someone can point me to a blog that has quantitative analysis of trends in sulfuric acid production!

3. I agree with Anonymous@26 that we need to hear more from disinterested experts. Journalists have a role to play (its hard to see an "expert" writing the salary survey and sulfuric acid production trends pices), but experts should be invited to write essays in C&ENews far more often than they are now.

4. I agree with some other commenters that C&EN tiptoes around many issues, such as open publishing (although C&EN is much more credible on this issue than is e.g. Nature) and many issues of interest to the ACC. I would love to see C&EN publish a nice infographic of the ACC's budget. Come to think of it, why doesn't C&EN publish a yearly review of the ACS budget?

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87. Jose on April 20, 2010 3:31 AM writes...

I think the mere fact that this post has generated 86 comments says reams about how members really feel about the ACS, and how much it is doing to pursue the needs of its members.

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88. Chris on April 20, 2010 9:23 AM writes...

I heartily agree with posters who complain about the editorial style of C&EN. On the one hand, Rudy Baum's lefty, opposition-dismissing editorials generate 90% of the letters to the editor, sucking all the oxygen out of actual debate about the priorities of the society (and Madeleine Jacobs was no better). On the other hand, you have them accepting, almost without comment, the press releases from ACC, the anti-open access statements made by ACS Pubs, etc. In short, it's all about them.

I am in support of Derek joining them, if only because maybe an outsider can help see these problems for what they are. And they are _major_ problems. Hands up: how many of you have spent more than 10 minutes on any issue of C&EN this year? I know I haven't, because there's precious little worth reading beyond the puny science concentrates and the disappearing want ads.

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89. Hap on April 20, 2010 9:42 AM writes...

There are "lots of bases for skepticism" when it comes the theories of gravity, electromagnetism, evolution, meteorology and the claimed roundness of the Earth, too.

Profoundly stupid comment that no scientist would ever make.

Yes, of course. I remember reading about Van't Hoff's and Le Bel's theories of tetrahedral carbon, and how people railed about how unscientific they were. The coup de gras for the theory of tetrahedral carbon was, of course, a letter signed by Hermann Kolbe and nine hundred apothecaries saying that tetrahedral carbon atoms couldn't possibly exist.

Isn't that how it went?

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90. Hap on April 20, 2010 9:50 AM writes...

I like getting the hardcopy C+EN - the technical concentrates are pretty good, and since I don't work in industry, the industrial overviews are nice (though they tend to rely a lot on the company people themselves, with some consultants). I read them a lot (though I currently have a backlog of reading). Their politics doesn't bother me, and keeping political opinions out of C+EN makes little sense, as politics has a significant effect on the chemical enterprise and on the world. Maybe other people doing columns with a more conservative slant would help, but I don't know.

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91. Tom on April 20, 2010 10:31 AM writes...

Hi, This is a very interesting blog! The comments are interesting as well, what would be your answer to the question you asked about C&E News? Thanks, Tom

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92. SRC on April 20, 2010 12:08 PM writes...

Isn't that how it went?

The point, for those who missed it, is that scientists are intrinsically skeptical of assertions, and only accept even apparently sound ones on a provisional basis (as long as they comport well with the data).

Sili's comment suggested that the topics he listed were beyond the realm of skepticism, and that, I submit, is a profoundly unscientific view. At one time, nothing could have seemed more rock hard than Newtonian mechanics. Conservation of parity - a bedrock principle like conservation of energy and angular momentum - was overthrown in 1956.

The point was that scientists write in pencil, not pen.

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93. Sili on April 20, 2010 1:07 PM writes...

Yes, of course. I remember reading about Van't Hoff's and Le Bel's theories of tetrahedral carbon, and how people railed about how unscientific they were. The coup de gras for the theory of tetrahedral carbon was, of course, a letter signed by Hermann Kolbe and nine hundred apothecaries saying that tetrahedral carbon atoms couldn't possibly exist.
Thanks. That's perfect. I'm sure I'll steal that some day.
Sili's comment suggested that the topics he listed were beyond the realm of skepticism, and that, I submit, is a profoundly unscientific view.
Nothing is beyond the realm of skepticism. But wallowing in debunked 'objections' is not skepticism; it's denial.

Newtonian mechanics may have been overthrown, but that doesn't stop them for working for most of the solar system &c. Like the roundness of the Globe, there is such a thing as relativity of wrong.

Oh, and energy isn't conserved. In general relativity. (Nor in the Blacklight prospectus.)

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94. Larry on April 20, 2010 1:33 PM writes...

Curt Fischer said

"I am shocked to hear the bitterness behind many of these comments."

Only a tenured academic would use the word shocked.

Maybe you should come down from your ivory tower and wade in the muck.

And yes we need to restrict H1-B visas and burn down the Ivy tower which has done nothing but increase tuition to absurd levels and flood the US job market with cheap labor.

A tenured university professor is in a Union. Why should not all PhDs form a union?

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95. partial agonist on April 20, 2010 2:42 PM writes...

Speaking as a non-tenure-track adjunct faculty member who fled industry after failing to sidestep the repercussions of the 4th acquisition/merger/downsizing of a 12-year long big pharma industrial career, I don't quite understand the depth of the anger here either.

Do you expect a weekly trade magazine to magically transform the state of the global pharmaceutical industry?

I expect them to have an interesting article or two most of the time, strive to be factually accurate, and yes cut out the annoying political editorials by the editor. I get it that people don't particularly like C&E News, but did I miss some bygone era when it was just a wonderful fountain of information that solved everybody's troubles every week? I'd like them to help me get grants funded. I don't expect it though, and I'm not mad about it.

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96. milkshake on April 20, 2010 4:04 PM writes...

#95 The anger is directed at ACS, a fat society that only cares about its publishing business, a supposedly trade organization that actually stands for the industry top management interests and the academic establishment, while cheerfully pooping on its members. C&EN is a ACS mouthpiece. Rosy outlook of C&EN and its brown-nosing to industry management is intolerable.

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97. anon on April 20, 2010 4:33 PM writes...

I haven't been an ACS member for many years, even though the companies which I have worked for pick up the tab for the membership. I just don't see the point. We get online access to the journals, and ACS primarily exists as a publishing company and to recruit people to go into chemistry when there is already a glut of unemployed chemists. The chemists who do have a job are at the mercy of their employer's whims - stock price goes down, no problem just lay off some more peons. There is no future in this for the long term for Americans - over half of the chemists trained here are foreign anyway, so eventually the vast majority of work will all be done elsewhere where labor costs are cheaper and people are more submissive.

Yes, it would be useful to have REALISTIC examples of how people used their training in chemistry to get into some related field. What additional degree(s) did they need to get? Prospects for job growth? JOB STABILITY?! Information that we can use so we don't end up working at Taco Bell or McDonalds when we are 40 or older and the company we work for is done with us, or for students who graduate and can't get their foot in the door since it is cheaper for companies to hire students to do 1 year internships than hire entry level FTE's. (Winning the lottery would be nice, but unrealistic.)

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98. AlchemX on April 20, 2010 5:46 PM writes...

Wow, after reading this blog for many years, I gotta bring up that old Jan. 17 2005 blog entry.

"Don't Become A Scientist" - Jonathan Katz

Looks like U.S. chemists are really no different after all. That post only had five comments back then. My goodness, how things have changed.

Also, especially for people tired of Madeleine Jacobs perspectives on women, don't forget Greenspun's "Women in Science". That 5th age group bears a strong resemblance to a woman in Alabama...

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99. Nick on April 20, 2010 6:26 PM writes...

Down with the ACS!!! Soon to be SAC - "Society of Asian Chemists"


-I'm sure this will break 100 now...

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100. Curt Fischer on April 20, 2010 9:00 PM writes...

Larry@94,

I am not a tenured academic, just a post-doc. I used the word "shocked" because I honestly had no idea that so many readers of this blog were bitter anti-immigrationists.

As for unions, I don't have a problem with them, at least not in principle. But we are talking about ACS and C&EN. The ACS is not a union, nor should it become one. Its mission is “to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people,” i.e., it's considerably broader in scope than simply advancing the parochial wage interests of professional chemists.

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101. Jose on April 20, 2010 11:33 PM writes...

I, too am shocked by the H1b theme- it's just a red herring, a straw man, and an easy target with little validity. The problems go so far beyond that it is shocking.

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102. Anonymous on April 21, 2010 2:40 AM writes...

The H1b visa issue is completely off track. Most chemical companies are offshoring there wet chemistry activities. You could stop all H1b visas tomorrow and nothing would change. The jobs are already going abroad. And India and China have been busy spending their hard-earned dollars training their next generation to be engineers, physicists and chemists in their own universities. The momentum is unstoppable. Unionising won't help you as it only gives you the power to withdraw your labor collectively. Newsflash - the employers don't want your labor, they want to employee others in China and India instead. The guys there are cheaper.

Now Derek has argued before that this process is inevitable so I don't se him shifting the view of the ACS or C&EN either. It's just globalisation in action.

But I regret the lack of proper investigation into the reasons why costs are so much lower in other countries. When my enviromental health and safety officer insists that I perform calorimetry on every step of a route which uses a material containing an aromatic nitro group, tells me to reduce my usage of chlorinated solvents and asks me to separate and bag/bottle all my waste into five different streams and fill in forms in triplicate to get rid of each one, is it any surprise that I choose to send that work to India where they'll do it cheaper and quicker than I can. No questions asked about environmental standards. No questions asked about accidents in those labs.

Should I feel guilty that I know some were hospitalised last year as the result of lab fires and an uncontrolled exothermic reaction or should I just enjoy the cost savings ?

These are the things C&EN would be investigating if it had any sense of journalistic pride.

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103. AlchemX on April 21, 2010 3:07 AM writes...

#102 brings up a lot of good points. Our foreign competitors are brutally efficient. They barely waste any time during school or on the job that does not increase their productivity. If that means discarding safety, I think they will do it.

When it comes to the physical sciences the newer U.S. scientists are hopelessly behind. >50% of our undergrad education was blown on a bunch of general ed classes. They're stuck with the debt and can't lower the price of their labor. So off to B-School they must go.

The outsourcing is unstoppable as far as I can tell. They are faster, cheaper and even know more a lot of the time. Because they spent a lot less time becoming politically correct citizens and much more time becoming economically competitive.

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104. Anonymous on April 21, 2010 5:56 AM writes...

"They are faster, cheaper and even know more a lot of the time"

They're cheaper. Extremely cheaper. Period.
Faster? It's myth.
They know more a lot of the time? Pure, redistilled hype.

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105. Anonymous on April 21, 2010 6:15 AM writes...

"Faster? It's myth"

Not in our shop. Not now they're doing the screening there as well. It's like the good old days when you made a compound handed to your biology colleague and it was tested that afternoon. Rather than it fannying in and out of the company sample bank because the screening wallahs want to be efficient (but slooooowwwww). No need for robotics just cheap, manual labor.

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106. bbooooooya on April 21, 2010 7:10 AM writes...

"Why should not all PhDs form a union?"

Go ahead, and good luck. Unions seem to have done a bang up jpb at Ford and GM.

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107. Anonymous on April 21, 2010 7:18 AM writes...

"If that means discarding safety, I think they will do it."

But I actually don't think they have to discard safety although I'm sure some do. They just have to get rid of the mindless junk of red tape that most big companies impose on their research staff, none of which makes us safer, just less competitive.

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108. Don Corleone on April 21, 2010 12:42 PM writes...

From our experience (see post #71), they are way faster and cheaper in doing tangible things, things can be easily measured, like synthesizing a whole bunch of compounds/libraries (coding in our case). But in terms of intangible things (design, user interface in our case), these foreign competitors still have a room to improve.
Unions for Ph.D.? Forgetaboutdyait. That would only speed up the outsourcing. You have no ideas how much a union electrician charges you to hook up electricity to your booth in a trade show!!!!

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109. Anonymous on April 21, 2010 1:32 PM writes...

"But in terms of intangible things (design, user interface in our case), these foreign competitors still have a room to improve."

Couldn't agree more but if you keep your design in-house you can still get rid of a heck of a lot of people.

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110. MedChem on April 21, 2010 1:50 PM writes...

107 :They just have to get rid of the mindless junk of red tape that most big companies impose on their research staff, none of which makes us safer, just less competitive."

So true, as if putting common sense on paper would somehow infuse it into the ones who lack it and make the ones who have it already safer.

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111. MedChem on April 21, 2010 1:54 PM writes...

"Faster? It's myth"

Don't underestimate these guys. I'm mighty impressed with our CRO. I'm surprised how great a job they do.

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112. Jonathan on April 22, 2010 9:45 PM writes...

I very much enjoy reading my hardcopy of C&EN but would love to see a greatly expanded Science and Technology Concentrates - perhaps even broken into sections of Asia, Europe etc and then C&EN could also shorten the industry sections, which appear to be less popular judging by the comments.

It is unfortunate that of course you are receiving many negative comments from those who are in less happy employment times and this is understandable.

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113. Old-Timey on April 23, 2010 9:08 PM writes...

I am employed and I still think the ACS and C&EN are useless.

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114. X-process chemist on April 27, 2010 6:22 AM writes...

Permit anonymous letters to the editor for those many of us who fear their jobs, but need a voice.

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115. Stubbie on April 27, 2010 5:34 PM writes...

I just looked at the link for the ACS salaries and, frankly, it makes me ill. What a friggin' racket. Rudy Baum, no more of my good money for you to use C&EN as your political soapbox. One less ACS member here.

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116. BCl3 on August 18, 2010 12:31 PM writes...

I was encouraged to join the ACS several years ago, but several things prevented me from doing so: The outrageous salaries paid to ACS management, and the fact that ACS has repeatedly lobbied against the open access of scientific information. Why would I pay an annual membership fee to support such principles?

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117. Jobs Legal on October 3, 2012 2:07 PM writes...

For the "letter to the editor," can one send his/her blog post to the editor. The instructions say: "Letters to the editor should only be sent to The Times, and not to other publications. We do not publish open letters or third-party letters.". . Does that mean blog posts, too?. . Thanks a lot..

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