The top 10 chemistry blog posts of 2013

Editor’s note: Jess Breen who blogs at The Organic Solution and Andrew Bissette who blogs at Behind NMR Lines round up the best blog moments of the year. If your favourite chemistry-related blog post doesn’t appear on the list, leave a comment letting us know what it is.


This year has seen the boundaries between the online and offline chemistry communities continue to blur as chemists writing online react to and influence events in the real world. Particularly notable were editorials in Nature (End harassment) and ACS Nano (Be Critical But fair) which addressed online reactions to, and accusations of, data falsification, harassment or just bad science.

It’s not all so controversial, however. The online chemistry community is ever-growing, as the Nature Chemistry Twittorial demonstrated. The chemistry blogosphere is a vibrant and creative community, as regular readers of Blogroll will have noticed. Here we round up ten of the finest contributions of 2013, from comedic videos to chemical critique. Entries are ordered roughly chronologically.

1. Blogs by practicing chemists offer rich commentary on the literature. For example, this year the Baran group started writing at Open Flask, taking us behind the scenes of their cutting-edge chemistry. Our favourite piece of commentary this year was Vinylogousin-depth discussion of a Nature Chemistry article by Paul Hergenrother and co-workers.

2. Over the past year the results of the decade-long ENCODE project were published. Veteran med-chem blogger Derek Lowe covered the project repeatedly, making this complex and interdisciplinary topic accessible to the wider community. His series of posts (here’s one with lots of links to reaction elsewhere), starting in 2012, showcases chemistry blogging at its finest.

3. Videos are becoming ever more popular among chemists, even reaching the hallowed halls of C&EN who now use videos to support their magazine stories. Our hero is Vittorio Saggiomo, who produces amusing and inspiring videos for his blog, Labsolutely. Highlight of the year: turning a chromatography column into a musical instrument.

4. #Realtimechem week in April was a highlight for many a tweeting chemist this year, thanks to Jay. Kat Badiola showed us what #realtimechem is all about with her series of posts on life in the lab as an honours student in Australia. The best of the rest #realtimechem week blog posts are collated by Jess here.

5. Chemophobia is a perennial topic for chemistry bloggers, from critiques of irresponsible reporting to reflections on the ethics of parody. Our favourite was Mark Lorch’s satire published in the Guardian, which created quite the buzz. He discussed this further at Chemistry Blog.

6. For the #chemsummer blog carnival, Lauren Wolf of C&EN asked the timeless question: To pee, or not to pee? In what will surely become a classic of science communications, Wolf covered a simple and universally accessible topic which brings together some fundamental principles of chemistry.

7. This year has been full of drama in the chemistry academic and publishing worlds, from stripy nanoparticles to unreproducible results. Various bloggers have discussed these and other topics but none as well as ChemBark, who shined a light on the now-infamous ‘elemental analysis incident’.

8. Podcasts are becoming popular tools to discuss the latest chemistry news, with Chemjobber, Just Like Cooking, and The Collapsed Wavefunction all hosting interesting podcasts with a variety of guests from across the community. Chad Jones and SeeArrOh joined forces to delve into Bad Science at the Movies as part of the #chemmovies blog carnival.

9. Matthew Hartings, Stu, Chemjobber and SeeArrOh organised an experiment to see if chemists from different backgrounds could agree on which publications in the chemical literature were truly significant. Hartings rounded up the somewhat unexpected but interesting results of The JACS Challenge at ScienceGeist.

10. Finally, we recommend our favourite new blog of 2013. Picture It… Chemistry is a blog from the University of Bristol which combines striking photographs of familiar objects with representations of some of the molecules they contain. The beautiful photography is accompanied by in-depth discussion of the chemistry. A real highlight is their post about aspirin.