Making more of methods


As a synthetic chemist the first thing I usually want to know about a chemical compound is “How did they make it?” and then “How do they know they made it?” However, synthetic procedures and characterization data for compounds are often found lurking in an article’s Methods section or in the depths of the Supplementary Information.

Not any more! We are now testing a new feature for the Nature Chemistry website that displays the procedure for making a chemical compound on its compound information page. Our first example of this can be found in Howard Colquhoun’s article in the August issue of Nature Chemistry which is live online today.

Compound pages – which display lots of other useful information about the structure – are easily accessed by clicking on hyperlinked bold compound numbers in the HTML version of an article. Where the paragraphs of text describing the synthesis and characterization of the compound are provided by an author, they will be displayed under the heading “Synthetic Procedure” on these pages. From the procedure you can view any other structures mentioned by bold number and navigate to their compound pages by hovering or clicking on the hyperlinked numbers respectively. This makes it really easy to follow the chain of the reaction you are interested in.

Following the links at the top of the compound pages you can still jump back to the article to find the full experimental details in the Methods section or Supplementary Information. We also encourage authors to provide us with raw data files – such as CIF files – which can be displayed on the compound pages.

We hope that including synthetic procedures and data on the compound pages makes it faster to browse for what you are looking for. Pulling all this information together in the article HTML will not only feed OSCAR the journal-eating robot, but also make life easier for over-worked post-graduate students.

Have a play and see what you think – this is only at quite an early stage, so any feedback would be gratefully received.


Laura Croft (Technical Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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