Magazine article Online

The Royal Society of Chemistry: Harboring the Genius of Innovation

Magazine article Online

The Royal Society of Chemistry: Harboring the Genius of Innovation

Article excerpt

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An Interview With Richard Kidd by Svetla Baykoucheva (Svetla Baykousheva)

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has always had some interesting, innovative ideas (www.rsc.org). I remember how we were fascinated with the periodic table that artist Murray Robertson had created, according to his vision for the chemical elements (www.chemsoc.org/viselements). In the past few years, the RSC Library & Information Centre has undergone a transition to a virtual library (www.rsc.org/Library/LIC Member), which is now providing online services to the society's 44,000 members. The beautiful old library in London, Burlington House, will soon be converted to a center for chemistry.

And now comes the RSC Project Prospect (www.rsc.org/ Publishing/Journals/ProjectProspect), an innovative service that in its first incarnation allows readers of the RSC journals to just click on a name of a chemical or concept and link to an external source that provides further information. Richard Kidd, RSC's manager, informatics, and manager of the RSC Project Prospect, explains.

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Svetla Baykoucheva: Could you briefly tell us what the RSC Project Prospect is about and where the idea for this enhancement has originated from? How was it planned and developed? What kind of technology lies behind the screen?

Richard Kidd: Our internal development project started about a year before launch and had a number of aims--to use open standards for subject and chemical terms that would allow better identification of relevant content by searchers, to develop the display and reuse of structured experimental data within publication workflow, and to apply this across our published content.

Along with other publishers, we have sponsored summer students at the Unilever Centre of Molecular Informatics at Cambridge University (supervised by Peter Murray-Rust) for a number of years. Out of these projects evolved a number of software tools, such as the Experimental Data Checker (www.rsc.org/publishing/resource/authorguide lines/authoringtools/experimentaldatachecker/index.asp), as well as a greater understanding of the possibilities of using structured data within the publication process. The development of the IUPAC InChI (www.iupac.org/inchi) identifier as an open standard for representing a chemical substance also enabled us to deal with chemical compounds in a sensible manner. We realized what the opportunities were and started this project to implement them in a sustainable form into our production workflows.

The technology is mostly standard publishing technology, although we do use the OSCAR3 text mining package (part of the SciBorg collaboration between the Unilever Centre and the Computer Laboratory), to identify some of the chemical compounds and subject terms within the articles. The main novelty is that we have identified the compounds and subject terms in situ within the text, store the information in the XML, and reuse this information in different ways to help the reader.

Several things really helped us in the development of the project--we have had an XML workflow in place for a number of years, and our technical editing teams already had a good understanding of XML structure and context. They are all chemical science experts (as are our development team), and they have been invaluable in the development of the project--they ask difficult questions for the developers to fix, they make sure the markup is correct, and they also suggest new enhancements that we should be looking at. It has been an advantage that, although we publish a range of titles, the range of subject areas we have to deal with is relatively focused.

SB: Do you implement these enhancements to whole journals or to selected articles, and how do you decide which articles or journals should go first? Are all RSC journals going to have these enhancements? …

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