Articles by: Phil

Condensed Print Format

My boss has pointed out this piece of news covered by C&EN. Apparently, starting from July, all ACS journals will be printed in a “rotated and condensed” format, that is two pages on one printed page in landscape format. This is an effort to reduce printing and distribution costs.

In my opinion, this change is just one further step towards purely electronic journals that are not printed at all. I think this will deeply affect the way we present our data and how we look at formatting. Preparing a manuscript in a way meant for printing is different from one which will never appear in print. Some may welcome this change because it saves paper, others will probably miss the possibility of flicking through a new issue of JACS. Although I rarely go to the library to pick up a printed journal, I admit to reading printouts very often (see this post).

Update: Apparently, in 2010 the print versions will stop completely, with the exception of JACS, Acc. Chem. Res. and Chem. Rev. See also Nature News.

By June 19, 2009 8 comments opinion

Talking to Guests

Whenever a guest speaker is invited to my institute, it is the custom for a few members of our group to speak with him/her about their projects. Normally you have a time slot of about 15 minutes.

It is always a good idea to check the guest’s home page first, in order to find out what topics he will be particularly interested in. For instance, somebody doing research in a biological field will not want to know all the details of my synthesis. On the other hand, a synthetic chemist will not be interested in the invasive mechanism of the bug I’m fighting. By now I have a small presentation of abot 20 slides, of which I will focus on the ones most interesting to the guest.

I always like it best when the guests show some interest and ask questions. In those cases I stop giving a “talk” and enter into the discussion. Sometimes the questions are really hard to answer, but they are always very interesting because they look at my work from a new angle. If I get into a real discussion, the usual quarter of an hour seems like a very short time! It can be a pity to have to stop a good conversation because other people are waiting on the other side of the door, waiting to see the guest.

By June 18, 2009 1 comment Uncategorized


Most of the printing of our group (~30 people) is done on just one laser printer. I often find myself walking from the lab to the group library, where the printer is located, and back because of paper jams or printing orders that have misteriously vanished into the digital nirvana. This is making me crazy! Somehow I am unable to proofread a manuscript on my computer screen, so I always need a printout. Maybe I should try and get my own printer.

This leads me to my question: Do you often print papers for reading, or do you always read the PDFs directly? I try to read most things directly, but the papers I cite the most, I also keep in printed form.

By May 25, 2009 11 comments opinion


Angewandte is kind of famous (or infamous) for the puns in the graphical abstract subheadings. I came across this one:

Kaim, Hosmane, Záliscaron, Maguire and Lipscomb, ACIE, Early View: To “B” or not to “B”,

which is about average for an ACIE pun. Fair enough. Further down the page there was this one:

Winchester, Whitby and Shaffer, ACIE, Early View: To Bi or not to Bi.

Seriously, are we running out of puns?

By April 24, 2009 3 comments Uncategorized