New web-based models of scholarly communication have made a significant impact in some scientific disciplines, but chemistry is not one of them. What has prevented the widespread adoption of these developments by chemists — and what are the prospects for adoption over time? These controversial questions are addressed by Theresa Velden and Carl Lagoze of Cornell University in a Commentary in the December issue of Nature Chemistry (1, 673-678; 2009). The authors write:
“The success of these new web-based and social-network models in disciplines neighbouring to and at the periphery of chemistry (such as drug design) stands in contrast to the lack of comparable success stories in chemistry itself. Why do similar initiatives in chemistry fail to gain critical mass and widespread usage? This question and the opportunities offered by such initiatives were the focus of a workshop titled New Models for Scholarly Communication in Chemistry, held in Washington DC on 23–24 October 2008. The participants in the workshop included experts from the chemistry, publishing, information-science and information-policy communities. We summarize here the results of that workshop, which are described fully in a white paper — ”http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/14150">The Value of New Scientific Communication Models for Chemistry — that is publicly available (under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License) online."
The authors conclude that the barriers to communication are not technical, given the number of online tools and resources now available for chemists. The authors believe that, outside a few specialities, chemists tend not to see these developments as opportunities to enhance science-communication practices. The authors go on to ask several questions about the adoption of new models of communication in chemistry, such as the preprint servers and online repositories that are in widespread use in other disciplines.