50 things you might not know about Nature Chemistry

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On Monday I realized that our May 2013 issue is our 50th issue. To celebrate, we have compiled 50 (hopefully) interesting tidbits of information about the journal that you might not have been aware of. Apologies for the length of this post, but it seemed like cheating to do fewer than 50…

1. The first formal manuscript submission (i.e., made through our online submission system rather than being e-mailed to us before that went live) arrived on the 25th July 2008. It was sent out to three referees and was then, alas, declined for publication on the 5th September 2008.

2. The first Nature Chemistry research Article was published on February 22nd 2009. The corresponding author was Makoto Fujita and the paper was entitled: Minimal nucleotide duplex formation in water through enclathration in self-assembled hosts. According to Web of Science, as of today it has been cited 62 times.

3. We published 471 research Articles (not including review-type articles) in the first 50 issues of Nature Chemistry. On average, that’s just under 9-and-a-half papers per issue.

4. As of today, according to Web of Science our most cited research Article (in fact, our most-cited piece of content bar none) is this paper: New insights into the structure and reduction of graphite oxide by Pulickel Ajayan and co-workers. It has currently been cited 390 times. It was handled by Anne, who is very smug about this!

5. The first 50 issues piled on top of one another reaches the dizzying height of roughly 25 cm. This seems disappointingly small.

6. We spell ‘sulfur’ with an ‘f’ and here’s an Editorial explaining why.

7. While we are on the subject of spelling, I’m going to point out that we use Oxford English spelling. So, for all of you wondering why we put ‘z’s in lots of words that you don’t think we should, hopefully that answers your question. Quite a few authors have pointed out what they think are spelling mistakes to us. We do occasionally make mistakes, but using ‘ize’ words is not one of them.

8. The f-word made its debut in Nature Chemistry in the August 2012 Blogroll column written by Paul Bracher. It’s all DrRubidium‘s fault… Paul blogged about the experience here. The editorial team discussed if we should go ahead and use the word in all its glory and we decided we would (it wasn’t a unanimous decision). But it’s OK, it is in the Oxford English dictionary after all.

9. Every time Michelle Francl sends me a new Thesis article to edit, I have to look something up in the dictionary. Which is great! The two most recent examples were ‘hermeneutic‘ and ‘sequelae‘…

10. Four of the five original editorial team members are pretty big football fans (the one with the round ball for all you North Americans, you know, the one where a ‘ball’ is kicked with a ‘foot’ for the vast majority of the game… hence the name). Bearing that in mind, I was quite pleased that I was able to get a mention to Manchester United in the March 2011 Editorial.

11. In a similar vein, Gav, who is a massive Sunderland AFC fan, managed to get this phrase into the March 2012 Editorial: How dull would our existence be if everything was black and white — that’s a subtle dig at Sunderland’s big rivals (arch nemeses might be a better description…), Newcastle United, who play in black-and-white stripes (Sunderland play in red-and-white stripes).

12. And speaking of Nature Chemistry Editorials, the one that appeared in the April 2013 issue was all about how the journal uses Twitter. What was a little unusual, however, was that it was written as a sequence of 42 tweets, complete with a Douglas Adams reference at the end. We live-tweeted the editorial the day that it was published in the journal.

13. After the expression ‘rise of the internet’ innocently made its way into the first two Editorials published in the journal (April 2009 and May 2009), it became a bit of a running joke to try and squeeze it into subsequent Editorials. It made into the June 2009, July 2009 and September 2009 Editorials. I think we then mostly forgot about it; but the phrase did make a comeback in the Editorials in the August 2011 and September 2011 issues.


Taken with Stu''''s trusty iPhone

14. Nature Chemistry editors are, for the most part, fuelled by tea. We even have our own tea cosy, knitted by our former editorial assistant, Hollie.

15. There must be something in the water that we use to make the tea — 4 of the 5 original members of the editorial team got married (not to each other) while working on Nature Chemistry.

16. We’re quite particular about what goes on the cover of the journal; we even wrote an Editorial about cover images, outlining our disdain for arbitrary background images. Here’s a short quote: Shimmering oceans, rippling pools, starry skies, breathtaking sunsets and other equally romantic visions are lovely, but please refrain from putting this type of imagery in the background of your cover suggestion unless you have a really good reason to do so…

17. Hand-drawn chemical structures have appeared on four different Nature Chemistry covers (Oct 2009, July 2010, June 2011); including some structures drawn by yours truly (May 2012).

18. Anne has actually appeared on the cover of the journal. Along with many other female chemists, a picture of Anne was used to form the mosaic of Marie Curie that graced the cover of the September 2011 issue.

19. Pictures of all of the founding editors appeared in the Editorial in the very first issue. This turned out to be quite useful for Gav, who used a hardcopy of issue 1 as photo ID during his visit to Salt Lake City for the 2009 Spring ACS meeting. Yes, this is true.

20. We’re fussy about graphical abstracts too — we covered that in an Editorial as well. We have made it on to tocrofl at least a couple of times (here and here) though…

21. We’re big fans of Twitter and currently the journal has just under 73k followers. All of the editors on the team have their own accounts too: me, Steve, Gav, Anne and Russell.

22. Our first tweet from the journal was made at 10:10 in the morning on the 10th March 2009 — here it is.

23. After a lunch-time conversation in the canteen here at Nature Towers, we started to wonder who the greatest chemist of all time was. We held a completely unscientific poll on Twitter and here are the results (spoiler alert: Pauling won). We then wrote in more detail about the question itself in an Editorial.

24. We have (deliberately) printed some text upside down in the hardcopy of the journal. Bruce Gibb‘s first Thesis article included a quiz and so it just seemed like a good idea to print the answers upside down at the end of the article. We didn’t do this in the online version…

25. We don’t do it as much as Angewandte Chemie, but we do occasionally come up with punny titles, especially for research highlights — many of which are based on song titles. Two of my favourites are Ice ice maybe and Come on silene.

26. Each month we need to come up with four cover lines for the journal, based on the papers published in that issue. When all else fails, we turn to The Phrase Finder, RhymeZone and Google News.

27. We held a science writing competition based on the In Your Element feature in the journal as part of the activities associated with the International Year of Chemistry. The Editorial in the December 2011 issue summarizes the results of the competition.

28. We use a real periodic table to keep track of which elements have been (or are in the process of being) covered for the In Your Element section of the journal. Having said that, we haven’t updated it for a while…

29. Talking of periodic tables, the one we published in only the second issue of Nature Chemistry contained two entries for thorium (Th). Oops. Here’s the erratum.

30. That’s probably not our most embarrassing error, however. In the very first issue, we said that the ratio of hydrogen to oxygen in water (you know, that stuff H2O) was 1:2. Erm, no. Here’s the erratum.

31. Another embarrassing error is that we have published a stock image of left-handed DNA. No, not Z-DNA, just a normal DNA helix that happens to be left- rather than right-handed. Oops again. It was in this Thesis article ($).

32. We’ve published a picture of Kate Moss in the journal; albeit her likeness cast in gold. Here’s the statue as it appeared in the The Telegraph — we cropped it somewhat more tastefully for this book review ($) by Andrea Sella

33. Members of the extended editorial team donned Nature Chemistry labcoats and took part in a photoshoot for Dennis Curran’s Thesis article ($) in the December 2012 issue.

34. We’ve probably given away hundreds of those Nature Chemistry-branded labcoats at conferences over the past few years. We have a handful left in the office (good for photoshoots — see point 33!).

35. We’ve even branded a bus with the Nature Chemistry logo!

36. After Neil left us to join the Chemistry World crew, we’ve invited bloggers out there in the wild to write the Blogroll column that appears in the journal each month. So far, we have had: Chemjobber, Paul Bracher, See Arr Oh, BRSM, Ashutosh Jogalekar, Karl D. Collins, Adam Azman, DrFreddy, JessTheChemist, DrRubidium, and Mark Lorch pen the column for us.

37. We’ve been featured on Thomson Reuters’ Science Watch site.

38. We’ve also featured in two April Fools’ blog posts by See Arr Oh at Just like Cooking — here and here.

39. When it turned out that a stock photo of bismuth was going to be far more expensive than simply buying a lump of bismuth and photographing it — we bought a lump of bismuth. And took a photo. And published it in this In Your Element article ($). I still have the bismuth on my desk in the office, but it’s had an accident since we first bought it…

40. So when we needed to illustrate the In Your Element article on selenium, we obviously went out and bought some… brazil nuts. That In Your Element essay can be found here ($).

41. In the name of SCIENCE, the editorial team took a trip to our local liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour. We’ve been back since.

42. While talking about tasty treats, the current Physical Sciences Bake Off Champion (for biscuits — cookies for North Americans) is yours truly — I’m still a synthetic chemist at heart! Find out more about my progress through the competition rounds here.

43. The journal has even published a recipe to make a curry! (From this Thesis article ($) by Bruce Gibb).

44. We celebrated the International Year of Chemistry by publishing a collection of seven Commentary articles about broader issues in chemistry beyond just the science itself. It was meant to be eight Commentaries, but one author dropped out.

45. We’ve published a handful of what we call ‘focus issues’ where we bring together a small number of pieces of content on a similar topic. These include prebiotic chemistry, site-selective reactions, small DNA binders, and protein dynamics.

46. Hannah, who spent a week doing some work experience at Nature Chemistry and other divisions in the company, wrote up her experiences for our blog in (awesome) poem form.

47. When an author has sent us a really good piece for the journal that is just too long for the section it is intended for, we have used our blog to publish the additional material. This includes a fascinating essay by Dan O’Leary on deuterium (and related issues) and a great piece by R. J. Dwayne Miller on molecular motors.

48. Two PHD Comics have appeared in Nature Chemistry, one in this Editorial on posters and the other in this Thesis article ($) by Michelle Francl (which included this comic).

49. So far we have received two impact factors — here are blog posts analysing them.

50. And we’ve even published a cartoon of a chemistry yeti/bigfoot/sasquatch (whatever you want to call it…) in this Thesis article ($) by Michelle Francl on urban legends of chemistry.

Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature