Reader Pays (a lot) to read “Sodium Hydride as Oxidant paper” (you don’t need to be a chemist)


I came across the following paper today:

Reductive and Transition-Metal-Free: Oxidation of Secondary Alcohols by Sodium Hydride

Xinbo Wang, Bo Zhang, and David Zhigang Wang

J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133 (13), p 5160

Publication Date (Web): July 21, 2009 (Addition/Correction)

DOI: 10.1021/ja904224y


Hmm… This is the same title as a paper published 2 years ago, which I thought had been withdrawn…

So some more searches:

Reductive and Transition-Metal-Free: Oxidation of Secondary Alcohols by Sodium Hydride

Xinbo Wang, Bo Zhang and David Zhigang Wang

J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2010, 132 (2), p 890

Publication Date (Web): December 23, 2009 (Addition/Correction)

DOI: 10.1021/ja910615z


But I thought it was 2009?

Ah yes…

Xinbo Wang, Bo Zhang and David Zhigang Wang

School of Chemical Biology and Biotechnology, Shenzhen Graduate School of Peking University, Shenzhen, China 518055

J. Am. Chem. Soc., Article ASAP

DOI: 10.1021/ja904224y

Publication Date (Web): July 21, 2009


Now the 2009 paper was severely cricized by the blogosphere. Including repeated work by TotallySynthetic showing that if you kept oxygen out the reaction didn't happen. The criticizers were moderate in their use of science – given that the ACS promoted the use of the term "junk science" I suggest it applied here. (The reaction was flawed, the explanation was flawed). But that's not the point here.

The point is "what is in the 2011 paper?". Now, when I am away from the office I deliberately do not sign into Cambridge University. So If I want to read the 2011 paper I find:

Purchase This Content

Choose from the following options:

Well, it had better be good…

I got a friend to access it for me. I won't say who in case they get done for stealing content. They let me read the whole content of the paper. I'm going to reproduce it here.

Hang on, that's violating copyright. You CANT reproduce a whole paper.

OK, I'll cut out the vowels. …

It reads:

"Th*s p*p*r has b**n w*thdr*wn f*r sc**t*f*c r**s*ns"

I hope I haven't broken fair use.

That's the WHOLE paper. 35 USD for 2 days.

I haven't read the 2010 paper. Perhaps someone can post it (but not, of course, the fulltext). Because I am going to spend my dollars in the pub.





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11 Responses to Reader Pays (a lot) to read “Sodium Hydride as Oxidant paper” (you don’t need to be a chemist)

  1. Over $4 a word, that would be a pretty disappointing purchase!

  2. That is pretty cool! That's *two* papers in JACS... I mean, that a pretty decent summed JIF of 18.038!

  3. Henry Rzepa says:

    I would be prepared to say this is simply poor programming. Whoever constructed the Journal pages put in an automatic link to "pay for this article", and forgot to write code to exclude "retractions/corrigenda etc". Or, if the task was subcontracted, whoever wrote the project specification simply did not think of how to handle such retractions/corrigenda.

    One sees a lot of this "programming to a budget" stuff. My favourite is a certain instrument manufacturer, who launches a product and subcontracts a software house to write the control/analysis software. Sixteen years later, the instrument is still happily functioning, but operating the software (which is not updated, because the sub-contract was a one-off) becomes an interesting challenge. At my institute, we still have 100 or so versions of Windows 95 (which cannot handle modern viruses etc) running. Why? Because the instrument software will not run on anything more recent! So we have to build a complex firewall to prevent such instruments from being contaminated by the Internet.

    • pm286 says:

      I suspect they outsource this to rights collectors who apply a standard charge for each article and take a cut, I am going to ask publishers about this and use FoI where possible. There is no incentive for a commercial supplier to apply a differential - they make more money by simple uniform charges.

    • Richard Kidd says:

      Although I can’t speak for ACS, Henry’s mostly right – although it's what happens with a sprint approach to programming. All developments gets prioritised and no sprint ever gets 100% of requirements completed. There are so few retractions that they get sorted out as a workflow way down the track. The Win95 example is pretty poor though, that's more a complete lack of further development.

      My guess is that the retracted article hasn’t been set as ‘free’ in a database somewhere, either by accidental omission, or that there’s not a mechanism to do it. As Peter asks, we handle our own pay-per-view on our site rather than hand-off to a third party.

      RSC policy is to keep the paper up with a big fat “Retracted article” addition to the title and abstract, but to put the PDF with warning cover sheet in the ESI area so it’s freely available. The original links are removed.

      • pm286 says:

        Many thanks Richard,
        Your approach seems a responsible one and reasonably failsafe. There is every reason to put RETRACTION in the title and I am surprised that ACS and OUP didn't do so.

        I am interested in the downstream effect of retractions. Retractions are a fact of life, although they are sometimes serious symptoms somewhere. We want to be able to plot all retractions and all papers that recursively cite retracted papers. We can only do the latter for Open Access papers as most publishers forbid machine extraction of citations by academics (though they allow it for Google).

        What is Win95?

  4. Irene Hames says:

    There’s no excuse for publishers to charge for corrections, expressions of concern and retractions, but a number do. Publishers also have a duty to give the reasons for retraction, but many don’t. This is something COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics) is trying to address. Might help in your approaches to publishers to cite COPE’s Retraction Guidelines ,

    which say, top of page 2, that notices of retraction should

    -“be freely available to all readers (i.e. not behind access barriers or available only to subscribers)”
    -“state the reason(s) for retraction (to distinguish misconduct from honest error)”.

    Also, the code of conduct
    to which all COPE members (over 6000 journals) are expected to adhere, says (section 12.2)that editors should follow the COPE guidelines on retractions.

    Irene Hames (COPE Council member)

  5. Ivan Oransky says:

    Adam and I agree, of course. Citing COPE, we called for all retractions and corrections to be open access in our first column for Lab Times:

    • pm286 says:

      I know that J/ACS read my blog. It will be inetersting to see if they reply. If I had time I'd try to write to them. But to whom? support@acs is the only thing that seems reasonable on the masthead. In the past it's been ignored. It's particularly bad that they seem to bring out repeated retractions of the same paper - each with the same meaningless phrase. Do trhey hope people will pay each year to find out that a paper was retracted? Or is it just sloppy programming (which always errs on the side of the publisher?)

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