Chemists set up web site to crowd source chemical reaction validation

January 23, 2013 by Bob Yirka report

(—A group of chemists, some willing to give their real names, some not, have set up a web site called Blog Syn, for the purpose of inviting chemists to recreate the chemical reactions as presented in professional journals such as the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The aim is to improve writing accuracy, the team says, not vilify those that report their findings in a public forum.

One of the most in the is the idea of reproducibility. If one team of researchers follows certain steps to create a new type of reaction or product, others must be able to do the same, otherwise, it's as if it never happened in the first place. In some respects, it's similar to a regular household cookbook. It's only useful if anyone can recreate the dishes in it in the same way as was done by the original cook. The problem in the chemical world is that the descriptions given in journals are sometimes not clear enough – leaving those trying to follow along scratching their heads.

To help clear things up, a blogger known as See Arr Oh and his or her pals, Matt Katcher, Organometallica and BRSM have created a web site whose purpose is to offer a platform for chemists attempting to recreate reactions from experiments gleaned from published journals. It all started, they say, when a paper published in 2009 had to be updated when others began blogging about their lack of success in replicating the results of a well known reaction.

There are other sites already in existence that serve roughly the same purpose, e.g. Organic Syntheses, SyntheticPages, etc., Oh acknowledges, but they are a platform for chemists to update their own work. With Blog Syn, it's all about chemists not involved in the original research attempting to replicate the results using only published information. The format for the new site is quite simple – an experiment is chosen and then chemists log in and post their results in trying to replicate the original claims.

Thus far, the site has reviewed and tried to replicate just one reaction – an iron / sulfur catalysis which was successfully recreated by three of the chemists, though all three found the yields to be lower than was reported by the in the published work (JACS). The team hopes their efforts will entice others to join in and in so doing nudge those that publish in professional journals to improve their descriptions.

Explore further: Chemists Develop Easier Way To Find Platinum, Other Rare Metals

Related Stories

New way of synthesizing organic chemicals mimics nature

July 15, 2011

Organic chemists have found a new way of synthesizing multiple complex organic molecules that until now have needed to be synthesized using time-consuming methods. The new strategy, which mimics natural biosynthesis methods, ...

MSU chemists become the first to solve an 84-year-old theory

December 22, 2011

The same principle that causes figure skaters to spin faster as they draw their arms into their bodies has now been used by Michigan State University researchers to understand how molecules move energy around following the ...

Protein engineers create new biocatalysts

December 20, 2012

Protein engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have tapped into a hidden talent of one of nature's most versatile catalysts. The enzyme cytochrome P450 is nature's premier oxidation catalyst—a protein ...

Recommended for you

Moonlighting molecules: Finding new uses for old enzymes

November 27, 2015

A collaboration between the University of Cambridge and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, has led researchers to identify a potentially significant new application for a well-known ...

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.