Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

ACS San Francisco 2010: Questions time

The meeting is winding down a little and although the week has been good, I’m pleased because I’m ready to come home. These meetings are usually tiring but this one in particular seems to have really taken it out of me. Maybe the jetlag and the 11 hour flight play a role but mostly it’s the long days and that you never really switch off during the week.

This ACS meeting I’ve really struggled to find the time to go to that many presentations so I’ve not really got much to say about the science that has been presented. The ones I have seen have been on the whole good, but people don’t tend to present their latest findings at ACS meetings – unlike in more closed meetings such as the Gordon conferences. So the best way to get the latest info is to just talk to people outside of the presentations. That’s why before I came I organized to catch up with a handful of chemists who I wanted to chat to about various things, like what they were up to in the lab at the minute, their opinion on our first 12 issues (everyone I spoke to likes what we doing – Yay!), what they’ve seen in the literature that’s exciting them etc.

And they always have a load of questions for me too. A few have cropped up in pretty much every conversation this week. Everyone wants to talk about impact factors. I can understand why, because they have (quite ridiculously) become, it seems, the most important metric to measure a journal and therefore a way to measure an academic by noting where they publish. To answer the questions that I keep being asked – we don’t really think about it, we haven’t got one yet, it comes in 2011 and it’s far too early to predict (I jokingly tried to predict it in earlier in the year, extrapolating using 2 (!) weeks of citation data and came up with an impact factor of 140,000! I think I was a little out).

Another question that comes up all the time: do you sit near the editors of the other physical science journals (Materials, Nano, Physics, etc…) and do you discuss papers? Yes, I sit just close enough to Peter Rodgers of Nature Nanotechnology to remind him that the pretty football Arsenal play isn’t going to win them the Premier League, but no, we don’t discuss papers that have been submitted. The journals based in London share the same office and we go for lunch and beers together (not at the same time!) but we are completely editorially independent and, in fact, rivals for certain papers that could fit the scope of several NPG journals.

There are other questions that get asked about our editorial processes and I think we’ll try to answer a few of them over the coming weeks and months on the blog.

I have a few more meetings so I’ll keep track of what I’m asked and keep you posted.

Gavin (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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