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seba
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[*] posted on 28-11-2011 at 02:08
Journal of amateur science


I'm new here and I was a bit puzzled why there is so much stuff in the pre-publication section but almost none in the (non-forum) part of publications.

After a discussion about this on IRC with few fellow amateurs we've had an idea of making a journal.

We could make a nice professionally-looking electronic journal of amateur (applied) science about all the various stuff which people make/create/do here. It would be of course first discussed and peer reviewed by the volunteers on the forum until we would make a good polished article out of it, to set a permanent record of it! :)

At start it could be published roughly every 3 months.

What do you think?
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zoombafu
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[*] posted on 28-11-2011 at 14:29


That would be really cool! It would be a great tool for all amateur chemists. I would be willing to proof and edit it.



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seba
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 01:58


Quote: Originally posted by zoombafu  
That would be really cool! It would be a great tool for all amateur chemists. I would be willing to proof and edit it.


Yes it would. It seems the problem is not just in amateur chemistry but amateur science in general. Read this article for example: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/284/5411/55.full

Making a scientific journal like this could truly bring back a kind of legitimacy to amateur science. Publishing at personal web sites or on forums just isn't the same as publishing in a journal and it also makes harder for others to find the research results or information regarding it. It's a shame that amateur knowledge would be lost, after all even small stuff which anybody can do and probably did, like determining solubility of a compound in some solvent (at various temperatures), could be very useful to the general scientific population.

So if we really make this journal, should it focus only on chemistry or any amateur science?
What should be the title? Journal of (amateur) science or something with sciencemadness in the name or even something else?

[Edited on 29-11-2011 by seba]
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 03:12


I think this idea could be a really interesting and possibly long running project. The problem would be formatting, regulating, and organizing it. Not to mention it would almost certainly involve dropping the veil of anonymity that the internet usually supplies on forums such as this. Probably not a big deal for most people here I would think, but it might be a deterrent for some.
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seba
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 03:31


Quote: Originally posted by UKnowNotWatUDo  
I think this idea could be a really interesting and possibly long running project. The problem would be formatting, regulating, and organizing it. Not to mention it would almost certainly involve dropping the veil of anonymity that the internet usually supplies on forums such as this. Probably not a big deal for most people here I would think, but it might be a deterrent for some.


Certainly the project needs long-term dedication, otherwise it's useless.

Formatting would be a big problem just at the start as once we settle for a format and make templates of it, it will become just routine. Organization it's similar.

For regulation... I don't exactly what do you mean? Accepting standards of publications and then determining if an article adheres to them?

Dropping the veil of anonymity is not obligatory, for example William Gosset used the pen name Student for publishing statistical research in a journal. Actually anonymity should be encouraged for people living in certain areas where home-chemistry is not tolerated as for some, even innocuous research for example with iodine or ammonia, could be harmful if the real name of them would be revealed.

Probably we would also need to set certain ethical standards on what's ok and what isn't ok to publish. For example research on universally (all countries) illegal stuff would be or wouldn't be allowed to publish? What about stuff which was once legal but now it's illegal and maybe it will be legal again? What about things which are illegal in some parts, legal in other parts?
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 04:45


I think that in practice it is quite clear whether something is suitable for publishing or not. If the chemicals, involved in the research are chemicals which can be used for illicit drug manufacture, but which also have many other uses (e.g. iodine, acetic anhydride, elemental phosphorus) then I consider research involving these chemicals as suitable for publishing. There are certain chemicals which ONLY have drug uses and then it becomes another matter.




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seba
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 05:11


Quote: Originally posted by woelen  
I think that in practice it is quite clear whether something is suitable for publishing or not. If the chemicals, involved in the research are chemicals which can be used for illicit drug manufacture, but which also have many other uses (e.g. iodine, acetic anhydride, elemental phosphorus) then I consider research involving these chemicals as suitable for publishing. There are certain chemicals which ONLY have drug uses and then it becomes another matter.


What if the drug is illegal only in some places? What if the drug is legal at the moment, but has high potential of becoming illegal very soon? What about explosives? Pyrotechnics? Chemical/biological weapons? Poisons?

When is something illegal enough to not be published?

Anyway, I was thinking that maybe the magazine format would be better suited to amateur chemistry than the starting idea of a journal or maybe we need both. What do you think?

[Edited on 29-11-2011 by seba]
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 05:32


Your questions are all valid ones. And different people would have different answers for you. This is what I meant by regulation. I also meant what research has been suitably documented and reported correctly. Essentially having standards of lab and research practices to uphold.
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 06:39


I think we should stray away from things such as energetics, because they are highly controversial, and we could then be branded as terrorists or something.



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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 09:41


There is no point in talking about this "regulation" topic. Why would an amateur science journal have criteria about what is allowed to be published differing from what the general science journals have? If in a normal science journal you can publish a synthesis of a compound that is illegal in the country where the publisher resides without any problems, then why would an amateur science journal judge any differently. Legality never was a criteria for publication - use of scientific discourse and relevance of the research is. If the article is a contribution to science and the experiments are conducted under ethical considerations that are currently considered valid in most of the world, then it is unethical to reject such a contribution on the ground of legal responsibility or kneejerking. When publishing an article in a scientific journal, it is not up to the editor to question if the author has a license to synthesize energetic materials or otherwise regulated compounds. The editors of some journals can demand written declarations about ethical aspects of the research (affiliations, sponsorship&corruption, adherence to animal testing guidelines, clinical testing protocols, etc.), but not legality.

Anyway, the most important topic was not even touched. Who would want to publish articles and why? There is not much interest to publish amateur research. Just check how little is posted in the Prepublication section of this forum. There is barely enough for one journal issue per year! OK, there are many interesting results posted in threads elsewhere in the forum, but still not even remotely enough for a quarterly journal. First you would have to motivate members to actually do experiments and post the results.




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seba
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 09:54


Quote: Originally posted by Nicodem  
There is no point in talking about this "regulation" topic. Why would an amateur science journal have criteria about what is allowed to be published differing from what the general science journals have? If in a normal science journal you can publish a synthesis of a compound that is illegal in the country where the publisher resides without any problems, then why would an amateur science journal judge any differently. Legality never was a criteria for publication - use of scientific discourse and relevance of the research is. If the article is a contribution to science and the experiments are conducted under ethical considerations that are currently considered valid in most of the world, then it is unethical to reject such a contribution on the ground of legal responsibility or kneejerking. When publishing an article in a scientific journal, it is not up to the editor to question if the author has a license to synthesize energetic materials or otherwise regulated compounds. The editors of some journals can demand written declarations about ethical aspects of the research (affiliations, sponsorship&corruption, adherence to animal testing guidelines, clinical testing protocols, etc.), but not legality.

Anyway, the most important topic was not even touched. Who would want to publish articles and why? There is not much interest to publish amateur research. Just check how little is posted in the Prepublication section of this forum. There is barely enough for one journal issue per year! OK, there are many interesting results posted in threads elsewhere in the forum, but still not even remotely enough for a quarterly journal. First you would have to motivate members to actually do experiments and post the results.


Good point on the "regulation".

Sure currently not much is posted, but I guess having a journal would maybe encourage people to experiment more and publish results in it? We could encourage also to report minor findings like the before mentioned example of solubility.

Also we could lower the frequency at start, like twice per year?
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 10:49


Publishing articles is a pain in the butt, anyone in academia will tell you that. We do it because we have to, basically.

While I can certainly imagine that for amateur scientists, publication could be a great reward and source of satisfaction, who is going to bother to adapt his manuscript according to the referees' comments?




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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 11:26


The journal that you are all referring to exists and is already published online here

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it?


;)
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 12:49


Nicodem, I didn't mean regulation was necessary because syntheses of illegal (in the US) compounds like and drugs and explosives isn't scientifically justified or allowable in professional journals. I merely meant that such a journal would be a damning piece of evidence for the person who actually performed the syntheses if something ever happened. Like involvement with the police. Professional labs and researchers are allowed to experiment with (and report on) these compounds because they have PERMISSION from the government. Something that participants in an amateur science journal are unlikely to receive.
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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 15:20


I think that you'll get more results with action than just general idea-sharing. I used to turn material from Prepublication into nicely (I hope) formatted PDFs. But it was time-consuming and I stopped doing it. If you want to get people enthusiastic about the idea but you don't have original material to publish, look at some of the nice Prepublication threads and turn them into formatted articles. I would gladly add them to the long-neglected Member Publications section of the site, with a note thanking you for performing the editing and assembly. Maybe if members see more examples of how nice complete articles look, people who have done interesting work but never compiled it in one Prepublication thread before will be inspired to do so.

Just credit the members who originally published their results by member-name and don't worry about legality. It's not like we have any threads in Prepublication about making CNS-active drugs or nerve gas in the first place. If the authorities want to nail a home chemist for something there is probably an excuse to punish improper disposal of table salt.




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[*] posted on 29-11-2011 at 16:41


Quote: Originally posted by dann2  
The journal that you are all referring to exists and is already published online here

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it?


;)



I was thinking that as well Dann, Given the fact that the forum is free and many people in the Journal would also be tied to the forum I think it would make more sense to us atlest to post a quarterly summery of the happenings on the SciMad forums. It may encourage further growth of the forum in the right direction as well since it will cause some people to step up there game in attempts to be "published" in the report.





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[*] posted on 30-11-2011 at 09:25


Realistically only a few people really make use of the SEARCH engine. If you read some of the posts, it's amazing how much material is repeated (wherein the individual obviously didn't do even a cursory Search).
The Forum goes back for years and so much material has been discussed in depth it's amazing. Yet time and again the same questions arise or the writer is too lazy to check with a Boolean of the Forum, a general Google, or a Patent search. It would take some creativity, but a significant text could be extracted from the Forum itself, certainly several Journal's worth.
Individuals who have written Graduate-level material or even upper-level undergrad material would most likely edit out a great deal of elementary fluff - & that presents another issue. Some of the dialog is "recipes" and poorly written. However a great deal of it is quality discussion: most every thread would demand editing - as a discussion is at odds with a presentation.




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[*] posted on 13-1-2012 at 15:16


That would be a great idea, although the list of authors in the front cover would be very long!



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[*] posted on 29-1-2012 at 04:26


In regard to quicksilver's suggestion, I would additionally suggest to members who happen to actually have some free time to invest some time into compiling REVIEW THREADS.

Unfortunately this good old habit never got a hold on this forum, but we have to face the situation that it is unavoidable to start this practice if we want the forum to still be coherent after tens of thousands threads and hundreds of thousands posts! This way the forum can become also a good source of knowledge besides being a good place for discussions.

I came to this idea because at a certain other deceased forum where I used to waste time years ago, there was one excellent member who compiled beautiful review threads. As far as I know, he is also a good member of SM, but does not practice his art of reviewing forum threads anymore. In any case, what I consider a good review thread is a compilation of links to posts or threads organized by topics and subtopics, which is a result of a thorough forum search (with perhaps a bonus of some general literature search). The author of such review threads would not only do a favor to the community, but also to himself by unavoidable learning process that comes with it.

For example, a review thread entitled "Synthesis of alkali metals" could be organized by:

  • Introduction (why is the topic of interest to the forum members, what are the main issues, a short abstract of academic and patent literature methods with references...)

  • Lithium (list of links to pertaining posts or threads where the preparation of lithium is either discussed or reported, with one sentence comments)

  • Sodium (links to pertaining posts or threads...)

  • Potassium (links to pertaining posts or threads...)

    ...

    and further division if required to better organize longer lists, e.g.: Electrochemical methods, Thermochemical methods, Reactions in solution...


This is just a trivial format suggestion, other topics can demand a very different format. Obviously, there is no need to do the work perfectly, though it is best to be at least good. Other members can then complete the missing pieces or propose changes in the thread itself.

So what do you think?




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[*] posted on 29-1-2012 at 08:02


An interesting subject for sure.

Review threads are definitely a great idea. At some point I may have some time to spend on that.

@quicksilver I totally agree about the lack of searching. I think there should be more detailed/strict requirements and/or guidelines for the background research performed before making a new thread. Many people simply do not know how to search effectively. Sure, there is guidance on the subject scattered around the forum, but the catch is they have to search to find it... So it seems to me there should be some sort of mechanism to "force" everyone to do a little more research. It would also reduce the amount of time mods have to spend weeding out repeat threads and questions that could be easily answered by searching.

Many people seem to miss the importance of search terms. A simple database where you could enter a word and receive a list of related/alternative words to try searching for should be very helpful.

I don't know if it's possible, but a box on the "new topic" form where you are required to enter at least one reference before you are allowed to post the new thread may be useful?

On the other hand, there are benefits to information being buried in huge/ancient threads though. If it is dangerous/potentially illegal information, having it be only accessable to the few who know the art of research could be a good thing in the big picture... Especially with so much recent interest in internet censorship.




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cool.gif posted on 2-5-2013 at 11:54


I strongly believe that this is an excellent idea, and that it should not be easily dismissed!

Journal/magazine for amateur science does not need to look professional. Of course, basic literacy and uniform structure is essential. Themes should be finely elaborated and as detailed as possible. Quasi-science should be banned from the start.

I would just like to point to another forum (I hope I do not break any rules here, since I am pointing out to a very good idea) - KerbalSpaceProgram forum has a thread on imaginative NatGeo-like organisation, and they are periodically publishing amateur web journal based on KSP and science in it.

I can already see journal starting from yearly to semiyearly publishing, covering topics in amateur science from syntheses, isolations and purifications to making of homemade hi tech scientific equipment. Homemade IR spectrometer and its complete characterization, homemade NMR spectrometer in several issues, from magnets and electronics to spectra analysis...You name it!

Old science popularization magazines had vast amateur areas that are missing today.

[Edited on 2-5-2013 by Acidum]




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[*] posted on 5-5-2013 at 12:11


I support this :D
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[*] posted on 1-7-2013 at 09:47


I believe this is a great idea.
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