Corante

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

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Emolecules
ChemSpider
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
PubChem
Not Voodoo
DailyMed
Druglib
Clinicaltrials.gov

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
Kilomentor
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
ChemBark
Realizations in Biostatistics
Chemjobber
Pharmalot
ChemSpider Blog
Pharmagossip
Med-Chemist
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
SimBioSys
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Business|Bytes|Genes|Molecules
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Depth-First
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa


Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
FuturePundit
Aetiology
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Sciencebase
Pharyngula
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net


Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
GruntDoc
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine


Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem


Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Instapundit
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus


Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Asking the Tough Questions: Doomsday in the Clinic | Main | LaMattina on Angell »

December 14, 2012

The Merck Index

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

So the Royal Society of Chemistry has bought the Merck Index, and plans to try to raise its profile, especially online. I wish them luck, but I'm not sure how well that's going to work out. I have a copy, but it's an old one that I got for free when a library turned over its stock. There are years that go by that its pages stay undisturbed.

I think that the chemical substance entries on Wikipedia, among other things, have moved into the space once occupied by reference works like this. Now, it's true that many people would rather point to a standard reference work like the Merck Index than to Wikipedia, and that may well be the market right there. Is there, or can there be, more of one? An advertiser-supported online substance reference might have a niche, but it would have been a bigger niche if it had been colonized ten years ago.

Comments (14) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Scientific Literature


COMMENTS

1. Mike on December 14, 2012 7:50 AM writes...

The only advantage that the Merck Index might have over Wikipedia is a perception of accuracy. But surprisingly, I have found Wikipedia to be very accurate when it comes to chemistry articles. In fact, much of the data is sourced to the Merck Index.

Permalink to Comment

2. Morten G on December 14, 2012 8:09 AM writes...

If it means I can do things like look up solubilities in molar online rather than mass per volume then I am all for it.

Permalink to Comment

3. petros on December 14, 2012 8:14 AM writes...

It has always been a good reference source. My copy (XIth edition) was acquired in the same way as Derek's

Permalink to Comment

4. MolecularGeek on December 14, 2012 8:59 AM writes...

It's worth noting that RCS is also the owner of ChemSpider. What if their goal isn't to revamp the Index and sell more copies of it, but rather to use the Merck Index data to make ChemSpider more useful and marketable to groups and institutions?

Permalink to Comment

5. exGlaxoid on December 14, 2012 9:16 AM writes...

I have had a number of Merck Index editions, and they are great. But I also find simple web searches. the Aldrich/Sigma Catalogs (also available online now), and other databases just as useful now. If I want a structure from a name, sometimes I can just use a drawing program and give it a name.

So while I like the Merck Index a lot, it is too expensive, too slow to update and too heavy to use routinely. If they create a reasonable cost system for universities and companies to access the data, then they should do well. If they try to bleed it dry, then no one will bother with it.

Permalink to Comment

6. CoulombicExplosion on December 14, 2012 11:07 AM writes...

Ditto @#4, you beat me to it. I'd point out that ChemSpider is already very useful in my work.

Permalink to Comment

7. Chris Swain on December 14, 2012 11:15 AM writes...

When you also consider that the RSC is taking over the Chemical Database Service it is clear that the RSC is moving to increase it’s support of online chemistry.

I also use ChemSpider a lot.

Permalink to Comment

8. Sean Ekins on December 14, 2012 12:08 PM writes...

I would have liked them to do something a bit more radical than buy an old book. I am pretty sure Merck are pleased to be rid of it. The comments above have hit it on the nose, who needs an iconic "bible" when so much information is obtained online from other sources. I must admit my Merck Index has stayed on the shelf since ChemSpider came along. That was a move in the right direction and set it apart from the ACS in providing data to the community for free.
Perhaps they could have done something to help some of the growing open drug discovery projects..Why not provide all your content for free on neglected diseases (e.g. Malaria, TB)? I would not imagine ACS would do that any time soon. Also why not invest more in the mobile app community? ChemSpider mobile is a toe in the water but clearly growing a platform of mobile tools to help Chemists and other scientists would seem a good investment for the future - and a good branding opportunity.
Buying a book that is always going to have someone else's name on it does not seem a particularly good business move. Please prove me wrong.

Permalink to Comment

9. myma on December 14, 2012 12:09 PM writes...

I think it should be a good thing.

Now if only someone would do the same for the Geigy Scientific Tables. I have an old set I cherish.

Permalink to Comment

10. Helical_Investor on December 14, 2012 12:35 PM writes...

One of the first books I bought, not because a course required it, but to have it handy for my own reference. I used to refer to it a lot, but now .... not so much.

Oh well. I agree it would be an excellent online resource.

Zz

Permalink to Comment

11. Anonymous on December 14, 2012 2:43 PM writes...

My Merck Index (circa. 1991) is gathering dust in a box somewhere (not really sure where). Sigma/Aldrich get my vote when I need the answer quickly.

Permalink to Comment

12. Sisyphus on December 14, 2012 7:11 PM writes...

Is the Merck Manual the next to be thrown overboard?

Permalink to Comment

13. Pugwash on December 15, 2012 2:16 PM writes...

While I admit to using the web for quick reference, I still don't trust it as much as the Merck Index.

If others are prepared to accept safety profiles from a free web-page then I think we have a problem.

Permalink to Comment

14. MIMD on December 16, 2012 10:58 AM writes...

As Director of the 13th Edition, I opine this is probably a good thing. I spent many a conversation defending The Merck Index from non-science executives who did not understand its "ROI" and who might have had it discontinued.

Permalink to Comment

POST A COMMENT




Remember Me?



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
Scripps Update
What If Drug Patents Were Written Like Software Patents?
Stem Cells: The Center of "Right to Try"
Speaking of Polyphenols. . .
Dark Biology And Small Molecules
How Polyphenols Work, Perhaps?
More On Automated Medicinal Chemistry
Scripps Merging With USC?