Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, March 13, 2008

CAS will cooperate with open chemistry initiatives

Last week I blogged the controversy surrounding the decision by Chemical Abstracts Service not to allow the proprietary CAS Registry Numbers to organize the growing body of chemical information on Wikipedia.

Yesterday CAS changed its mind.  (Thanks to Mathias Schindler and Martin Walker.)  From the new CAS statement:

CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, is pleased to announce that it will contribute to the Wikipedia project. CAS will work with Wikipedia to help provide accurate CAS Registry Numbers® for current substances listed in Wikiprojects-Chemicals section of the Wikipedia Chemistry Portal that are of widespread general public interest....

CAS views Wikipedia as an important societal tool for the general public, and this collaboration with Wikipedia is in line with CAS' mission as a Division of the American Chemical Society....

From Antony Williams:

I think this is excellent....For CAS to offer support to the Wikipedia team for the curation project is, for me, an indication of commitment to public service and I am indebted to the participants in this decision....My sincere appreciation is extended to the CAS management team and decision-makers. My gratitude to WP:Chem for staying engaged in the conversation to get to this outcome. My encouragement to us all to get this project done and have a high quality validated dataset of chemicals available as a public resource. Onwards and upwards!

From Peter Murray-Rust:

...I add my thanks - especially in what could have become polarized. It is good news for us in Cambridge as we are building a molecular repository of common chemicals and the CAS number is a valuable linking tool orthogonal to trivial names, systematic names and connection tables.

Although there are (I think) over 20 million chemicals with CAS numbers  the vast majority are likely only to have been reported once or a very small number of times. It is the CAS numbers for the common compounds (perhaps 10,000) that are valuable. They are widely used and available in catalogs, safety data, etc. Most of these will find their way into Wikipedia where chemists and other scientists will add information and annotations....

Comment.  Kudos to CAS for changing course and kudos to the open chemistry community for raising the issue and pressing for a solution.