Chemistry plays a major role in our lives – in the clothes we wear, the sports we watch and the food and drink we consume.
Take beer, for example:
The main ingredients are water, malted barley, hops and yeast. There are countless biological and chemical processes working in synchronization during its production (enzymatic digestion, fermentation, isomerization). In addition, improvements to the way beer is served in its expected cold, foamy, fizzy way are due to advances in science that provide understanding of what’s going on in the glass of beer.
But could you analyze the intricacies of hop chemistry discovered in recent scientific research? If the answer is yes, then you are a perfect participant for the ChemSearch Challenge. In its second year, the challenge aims to stimulate chemists with a fun and thought-provoking online competition that will connect them with their peers around the world.
In addition to generating friendly competition and connecting a global community of chemists, the ChemSearch Challenge addresses a more serious issue today’s researchers face: information overload. In the past 60 seconds, thousands of new pieces of research have been shared among scientists, and by the time you have finished reading this article, it is likely that somewhere in the world a new chemistry paper has been published. However, it’s often a struggle to find the research you need or the answer to a question – quickly.
What’s your biggest challenge?
In a survey of 470+ Reaxys users that includes chemists, chemistry researchers, faculty and students, Elsevier R&D Solutions found that not having the time to read everything and having to manage the ever-increasing amount of chemistry information were the greatest challenges. This complaint is echoed by the chemistry community. In a recent article in Chemical and Engineering News, author Bethany Halford says “students are faced with so much information from so many disparate resources that they’re completely overwhelmed. They are forced into this memorization mode (and) they can’t take in the fire hose of information.”
Last year, Elsevier's ChemSearch Challenge demonstrated that Reaxys – a database that helps chemists find relevant literature, patent information, compound properties and experimental procedures – gets users accurate answers twice as fast as other search engines. However, as the mountain of content grows, it is important for the developers of Reaxys to ensure that the product evolves with the changing needs of scientific researchers. Listening to the requirements of chemists has always been a priority for the Reaxys team, which considers the problems experienced by researchers when making improvements.
What’s new with Reaxys?
The latest release of Reaxys, which went live this week, is the result of multiple prototypes and live customer beta testing. We wanted to ensure that Reaxys’ existing merits our customers and users love could be expanded to new users. This new release ensures that all researchers – including undergraduate students and novice users – can use Reaxys in the most beneficial way. Importantly, we aimed to make it easier than ever to find relevant chemistry literature, critical data points and the procedures behind them.
Key features include an updated user interface that has been completely streamlined and that make it easier than ever to ask complex chemistry questions without being an expert in information solutions and query languages; more content extracted from the full text of 13,000 journals; and increased patent content from Asian offices – a highly sought-after source among chemists. If you’re a chemistry researcher, student or educator, we encourage you to take the new product for a spin to see just how effective your chemistry search can be.
The ChemSearch Challenge
That is where the 2016 ChemSearch Challenge comes in. This year, Elsevier is leveling the playing field for participants by allowing all players to use the new Reaxys to answer a series of weekly chemistry questions over eight weeks. The questions were developed by Reaxys Prize Club members, who worked alongside Reaxys team members to craft questions that would be relevant to chemists’ lab work and build an engaging narrative.
Today’s chemists need tools that contend with the massive volume and diversity of information, and the speed at which it accumulates – and yet our experience is that many chemists still use unintuitive tools that force them to spend hours hunting for data, or generic tools that are not specific to chemistry. By giving the global chemistry community a chance to experience the new Reaxys, we’re setting a higher standard that not only elevates our product but raises the bar for other providers who are serving this very important community.
The ChemSearch challenge will allow gamers to take part individually or alongside their colleagues as a team – and challenge others to join in and beat their existing scores. Each week, the winning team and individual will be announced, and Elsevier will donate $200 to a charity in the winners’ name.
The challenge opened this week to all chemists. Stay tuned for an update on the winners each week.