Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reading the literature

We are on Spring Break and since I won't be heading anywhere warm, I have decided to catch up on a few things.

For me (and many of my faculty colleagues) breaks are not about sitting at home watching the Price is Right and eating cheese puff[1]. It is about trying to catch up. An academic season is always frantic and busy and by this point, things have been sitting on the back burner[2] too long.

One of the things I try to do is read some literature. I am terrible at reading the chemical literature. It's not that I'm not interested. There are two significant limitations.

1) lack of access. The only journals I have access to are JOC and Org Let[3]. Our library is terrible in this regard. Oh, I've complained, but it is just too expensive. My only access comes from personal subscriptions. I'd love to have JACS, Angewandte Chemie, Chem. Comm, etc even Tet Let, but sadly, that is not possible.

2) lack of time. I will admit I am a bit unmotivated at times, but all of my time is consumed with my teaching and administrative duties. How does this schedule sound. I start teaching at 10:30AM and teach three classes in a row. I'm done teaching at 1:20. Then on 4 days of the week I have a lab at 1:30 until 4:20PM. That means I am in a classroom or lab with students from 10:30AM to 4:20 nearly every day. Add to that all of the prep time etc.... OK, I got a little carried away there. I didn't mean for this to be a rant....

So, I am spending some my break reading journal articles. Which brings me to the point of this post[4]: I cannot for the life of me, read journals on a computer. Unless I'm just scanning it in an attempt to get a summary idea, I must print the thing out and have it in my hands. Especially with synthesis papers. I have tried. I would prefer to save a few trees. But, I can't do it.

Having online access is great. It is also a lot cheaper, but I still print everything out that I want to read.

For those of you in the sciences, do you read journal articles on your computer?

UPDATE: Just my luck. When I do have time to read journals, the ACS site is down for maintenance:(

[1] both are actually things I don't like anyways.
[2] bunsen, of course.
[3] Journal of Organic Chemistry and Organic Letters
[4] it's about time, jerk!!!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Definitely print 9 out of 10 times. Not only do my eyes get tired reading off a screen, but I also get distracted on the computer and can't flip back and forth that easily.

Chemgeek said...

I think the flipping back and forth is probably the biggest reason for printing.

Some ACS editor should break the mold and "print" online versions (not the pdf copy of the print version) with the schemes next to the pertinent text (and other stuff like this). That would help.

Or just a more interactive pdf.

Ψ*Ψ said...

I've gotten used to reading on the screen, since I do most of my reading at the analytical job while my autosampler is eating.
If you see anything that looks interesting that you don't have access to, just email me. ;)

milkshake said...

Careful reading - printout. browsing through issue to see see which articles are worth careful reading can be done on monitor. Once I print it out and read, I am likely to put it in the folder in the filing cabinet. 3 large cabinets of stuff, goddamint.

I miss the atmosphere of a library though - quiet reading on paper in a cozy musty corner surrounded by loong shelves of pre-war Berichtes, Annalen and J. Chem. Soc. A room full of half-anual issues of Chem Abstract and their indexes.

Chemgeek said...

Milkshake, I totally agree. The library atmosphere is something I miss. On occasion, I would start leafing through JACS and find a seminal paper by Fisher or someone in the late 1800's.

brendan said...

About your access problems: You should definitely have your subject specialist/department liason librarian ILL any of the issues you want. It's cheaper than a subscription. If they are unable/unwilling to help maybe a conversation with their department head is in order. ACS database subs are ridiculously expensive, but if your library is part of a consortium, a member school might have access.

Chemgeek said...

I used interlibrary loan extensively. Our ILL turnaround is pretty fast (1-2 days).

The big annoying problem is waiting 2 days to find out the paper does not tell you what you wanted to find out. If that issue was in the library, all it would take is a little walk two shelves down, crack open the book, scan the article and realize it was not helpful.

mjenks said...

I print out everything that interests me. I then put it on a pile and get to the reading later.

I like the paper version because it a) supports the logging industry and b) I can make notes in the margins...something that gets a little annoying on my computer screen after a bit. Plus, I can take the papers down to the breakroom, make myself some coffee, and be less distracted by the big windows in front of me than I am by the big internet in front of me when I'm at my desk (like right now, in fact).

Elderchemgeek said...

This is the benefit of working in industry - we have subs to practically every journal known to man. We do not have access to print Journals any longer however, but that’s ok we have lots of printers and paper. So please keep getting sick and buying our overpriced meds so we can continue to afford our multimillion-dollar journal subscriptions!

Thanks in advance.

Chemgeek said...

I will

Alex said...

I also print out papers. I find I need to make notes and flip back and forth through them, which I can't do on a computer.