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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: Twitter: Dereklowe

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October 25, 2012

Travel (For C&E News)

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Posted by Derek

I'm in Washington today for a meeting of the C&E News editorial board (which I believe is the last one I'll be attending during my term on it). I'll be able to check the blog during the day for comments, but I don't know if I'll have time to put up a post until later on this afternoon. (In theory, I should be downstairs right now, having breakfast!)

But anyone with thoughts on the magazine, its news coverage, and what you as a reader might want to see more or less of in it, please add your comments. I can assure you that the staff will see them!

Comments (39) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. Anonymous on October 25, 2012 7:09 AM writes...

Ask them is they have an Official Policy of only hiring Liberals as the primary qualification and Journalistic abilities as a 'Nice to Have'.

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2. Anonymous on October 25, 2012 7:22 AM writes...

Their survey methods are inherently flawed. Ask them if they think publishing flawed data encouraging politicians to confront this "awful" shortage of STEM workers is good for the chemical community or just good for selling their C&EN magazine. Ask them to talk to real chemists in the industry whose LinkedIn contact lists suggest unemployment, underemployment, and forced career switches from chemistry are quite frequent.

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3. Lyle Langley on October 25, 2012 7:25 AM writes...

Or ask why they decided to have "Bloggers" as advisors rather than scientists? Or, better yet, why they even need an editorial board?

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4. See Arr Oh on October 25, 2012 7:26 AM writes...

More coverage of the primary literature and public outreach opportunities. More tie-ins with CENtral science. (Obviously) more job ads in the back. Raises for those intrepid C&EN reporters. And more snarky Synthonix ads...

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5. eugene on October 25, 2012 8:02 AM writes...

More self-immolation for being part of ACS that is out of touch, promotes wrong issues, and looses multi-million dollar lawsuits trying to destroy open chemistry.

I would like the hand-wringing to start with the editorial on the second page, followed by one or two stories about how the ACS is awful and they are all doomed along with good jobs for chemists, in every weekly issue. The 'fun' section in the end should be about how open access is killing them once every month.

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6. Anonymous on October 25, 2012 8:10 AM writes...

Ask them who their master is, because it certainly is not industrial chemists. Are they a publisher with special tax status or a professional organization for chemists? Also maybe they should hire an unemployed chemist to speak up for chemists in C&EN editorials instead of ACS over paid management.

Finally they should spend mangements raises hiring a real survey organization to get real numbers on chemists' employement status.

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7. John Wayne on October 25, 2012 8:10 AM writes...

The journalists at C&E News can help by initiating and participating in a conversation about how the organization can both make fewer mistakes and present the current challenges on the job market realistically. The ACS could do a better job of helping it's members by applying lobbying pressure in Washington to preserve funding and chemistry-based industries. As an organization, we should all be asking how we should be educating our children about how the modern world works, and what we can do to help.

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8. Bob Seevers on October 25, 2012 8:21 AM writes...

It has been several years since I dropped my ACS membership. One of the primary reasons was the weekly liberal talking points in the C&EN editorials.

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9. Chemjobber on October 25, 2012 8:21 AM writes...

While I would like to hand each person who mentions the Salary Survey and its methodological flaws a shiny Eisenhower dollar, I must note that it is performed by the ACS Department of Research and Member Insights, and not by Chemical and Engineering News.

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10. exGlaxoid on October 25, 2012 8:30 AM writes...

I'll say that while I am finding my ACS membership less useful with time (except for some free ACS articles now), I do find reading CEN useful sometimes, especially the News of the Week, and Sci/Tech Concentrates. Often I read CEN months ahead of other journals, so if there is an interesting new reaction or novel drug target I will see it there before the primary source.

I also would like to see more of both sides of issues, in the policy area, but I don't read CEN for policy issues much anyway.

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11. new orleans saint on October 25, 2012 8:48 AM writes...

Ask them to cover and explain the complete melt-down of the PACS abstract submission program for the upcoming New Orleans ACS meeting.

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12. anon on October 25, 2012 8:56 AM writes...

Ask why if I choose "electronic delivery" do I still pay full price?

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13. Oh No on October 25, 2012 9:13 AM writes...

No rest for the wicked in here...

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14. Bill from Boloxi on October 25, 2012 9:30 AM writes...

#11 The PACS situation is a nightmare - the timelines for setting up a session are tight anyway, let alone one in which all the submissions have disappeared. Some communication from the ACS would be appreciated - a frustrated session chair.

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15. Electrochemist on October 25, 2012 10:12 AM writes...

Please ask them to charter a new division: "The ACS Division of Under- and Unemployed Chemists"

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16. Cersei on October 25, 2012 10:16 AM writes...

Why all the vitriole directed at C&E? Our current employment predicament is a manifestation of the public's unreasonable demand that healthcare (and in turn. medications) be as close to being free as the industry can withstand - hence the the industry's willing embrace of the outsourcing initiative. In this environment, even if C&E successfully lobbied the government to drop the foreign visa allocations and chemistry graduation rates to near zero, the halcyon days of high paying research jobs will not magically return.

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17. newnickname on October 25, 2012 10:20 AM writes...

It's going to take more than a coffee mug to get me to rejoin the ACS. I don't even drink coffee! I do, however, drive a car ...

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18. Am I Lloyd peptide on October 25, 2012 11:27 AM writes...

@16: The vitriol has little to do with healthcare, and only a fool would blame C&EN for unemployment. If you have followed the discussion, you will realize that the bitterness has to do with the "let them eat cake" attitude of the wealthy ACS upper management, the constant plugs for outsourcing seen in the pages of C&EN, editorial obsession with climate change, efforts to squelch open source chemistry and the mandatory requirement to become an ACS member if you want a high-priced C&EN subscription. And these gripes are only a few of many.

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19. Anon on October 25, 2012 11:28 AM writes...


I don't think anyone here is blaming C&E news for the industries current state of affairs. It's the rosy picture that they paint about future prospects for new chemists. It's misleading.

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20. yourmama on October 25, 2012 11:50 AM writes...

C&E News needs to get a little edgy...Maybe they could do an annual swimsuit edition like Sports Illustrated. I'm envisioning a scantily clad Stu Borman embracing Carmen Drahl for the cover.

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21. P.oorH.elplessD.ope on October 25, 2012 12:11 PM writes...

They need to do more to encourage govt to increase the number of allowed H1B visas per year. There's clearly a shortage of talent. (/sarcasm)

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22. Anonymous on October 25, 2012 12:14 PM writes...

#8 Chemjobber,

Thanks for reminding me that C&EN is just the messenger, kind of like Pravda for the ACS Party.

Now the ACS Department of Research and Member Insights is an oxymoron is there ever was one. This all sounds a little Orwellian; wait I am having a vision of the DRMI commissars down in the ACS Headquarters basement torturing the data on chemists' supply, demand and unemployment until it confesses to the results that ACS team-greed needs to hear and C&EN needs to publish. Perhaps this is a department that should to be outsourced so the C&EN has data to publish that exists outside of imaginationland.

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23. Curt F. on October 25, 2012 12:15 PM writes...

I hope you can ask them how to make the rest of the ACS more like C&EN (except for the editorials). C&EN is consistently informative, well-written, and presents a great spread of megaconglomerate M&A activity and recent chemical R&D highlights.

Plus it's way cheaper than all the other ACS journals although it has a much bigger full time staff and is published 4x as often!

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24. Sili on October 25, 2012 12:24 PM writes...

"Liberal agenda"?

This is the first good thing I've heard about the magazine.

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25. mass_speccer on October 25, 2012 1:18 PM writes...

I'd be interested in how much editorial independence C&EN has

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26. milkshaken on October 25, 2012 1:58 PM writes...

my thoughts on C&EN: destroy it with fire

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27. Chemjobber on October 25, 2012 2:07 PM writes...

22: I don't know all of the details, but it is my sense that it's a small group of people (3 or 4 staffers) who have been tasked with a difficult job and relatively few real resources. In the past, getting more funding for them wasn't an issue either within ACS and amongst rank-and-file members, in that chemist unemployment was relatively low and it was seen as a cyclical (and not structural) issue.

I think the post-2003 problem in chemist unemployment is structural. ACS should face this reality head-on, and getting good data should be part of that. How it should be done (more funds to DMRI? outsourcing the Salary Survey/Starting Salary Survey to crazy-go-nuts phone bankers?) is a different question.

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28. bad wolf on October 25, 2012 2:36 PM writes...

What chafes me about Baum was his ignoring what's going on under his very nose, directly impacting the readership of his publication. Look, if the head of Greenpeace suddenly started talking about STEM employment all the time, i'd be thrilled; but that wouldn't exactly be doing their job.

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29. anon on October 25, 2012 4:06 PM writes...

#12 That's a good question...

When I pay my hefty dues, I can decide to get C&E News "delivered" electronically. I did that last time. My desk is less cluttered for it, thanks.

One would think, though, since paper isn't free, and printing isn't free, and mailing isn't free, that those of us who choose the electronic option should notice the dues owed going down a little on the screen when we make that choice. They definitely do not. WHY NOT?

Frankly I don't know WHAT I get for my ACS dues money.

Where is that savings going? I somehow imagine ACS fatcats spending it on Alaska cruises to do "fact-finding" on glaciers melting. But maybe that's just paranoia.

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30. RM on October 25, 2012 6:42 PM writes...

I dropped my ACS membership years ago - the reason being that I realized the only thing I was getting out of it was a subscription to C&EN (... well, and the yearly mug). While it's a respectable publication, I didn't think it was worth the ~$3 per issue the membership fees work out to.

From my perspective, there wasn't enough coverage of the science. To me it seemed most of the content was industrial/regulatory in nature - e.g. how congressional policy will impact the petrochemical industry, or how east Asian producers are changing the halogenated fine chemical market. While they're fine articles, and I'm sure there are some corporate people who appreciate them, they're not all that relevant to the academic or industrial bench scientist.

For me, I'd like more coverage of scientific advancements, or review/retrospective features, like "here are the various techniques which people are commonly using for reductive aminations". The sort of thing that's common water-cooler talk between scientists, but wouldn't necessarily rise to the level of a publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

I guess it's a question as to what the focus of the publication is. Is it an industry trade journal, or is it a newsmagazine for chemists (including industry managers, bench chemists, academic researchers, students, etc.)? While the distribution indicates the latter, the content lead me to believe it's focus (perhaps unintentionally) is the former.

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31. Be the Change on October 25, 2012 7:58 PM writes...

Truth in editorial material
Rudy is gone, but the letters published last week were about 6-to-1 pro-Rudy. No way does the membership feel that strongly, that way. The entire structure of the US feels politicized to me, I see no reason for dues I pay, to go towards writing that spikes my blood pressure.

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32. PUI Prof on October 25, 2012 8:19 PM writes...

How about a thoughtful article on what industrial people want their new workers to know that is not being taught by universities. On this blog, in C&ENews, and a plethora other places I hear I am not teaching what I should be. Yet, the closest I have come to nailing down the complaint, the answer is along the lines of "they don't know how to run a combichem high throughput gizmo." As a rebel quietly working inside to change things in a positive way, if I could get actionable suggestions I could make a difference.

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33. cliffintokyo on October 26, 2012 4:02 AM writes...

Chemistry: Academic & Industry balance is mostly OK IMHO.
Engineering: Not my primary interest, but how about more scientific insight into Chem Eng processes?
Chem Eng (Scientific) News does not consist of how many $BBBB the oil industry is making, and how many $B in compensation BP is paying.

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34. MoneyShot on October 26, 2012 6:54 AM writes...

Left leaning bias (typically masked as pro "clean chemistry" e.g. solar and wind and environmental chemistry) and anti-pharma which ironically has actually had an impact on human health and well-being. MJ is the worst of the bunch.

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35. Anonymous on October 26, 2012 8:14 AM writes...

Someone once said 'Don't ask a barber if you need a haircut'. In a similar vein, don't ask C&EN to tell you that the pharma industry is in decline, salaries are dropping and shouldn't they consider lowering fees, the salaries and number of staff they employ, because the answer will always be no. They'd be unusually honest (and stupid) if they did. See how many chemists are *still* paying their ACS dues? There's your answer.

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36. Bunsen Honeydew on October 26, 2012 9:53 AM writes...

So, Derek, can you tell us anything about that board meeting vis-a-vis the issues and themes in the comments here?

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37. Derek Lowe on October 26, 2012 10:01 AM writes...

Bunsen, they asked for the proceedings to stay confidential, so I'll honor that. I can say, though, that the staffers are quite alert to the challenges (and occasional contradictions) of their jobs, and that they're actively trying to figure out where (and what) the magazine is going to be in five years or so. . .

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38. dzrlib on October 26, 2012 1:35 PM writes...

Encourage them to follow Rudy Baum's example of being willing to editorialize on anything ... especially climate change.

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39. Bunsen Honeydew on October 26, 2012 3:19 PM writes...

Derek, thanks for responding. I figured that they would request confidentiality and I think that's reasonable. Thank you for the insight you did provide and for a forum for us to share our thoughts.

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