Hexacyclinol–The Data Debate
Feb26

Hexacyclinol–The Data Debate

We’ve noticed some buzz in the blogosphere lately (here, here, here, and here) over a recent Org. Lett. paper (DOI: 10.1021/ol900164a) revisiting hexacyclinol—a natural product that got a lot of attention back in 2006. The new paper was a reminder that James J. La Clair, the controversial figure in the hexacyclinol brouhaha, had said back in 2006 that he was going to duplicate his disputed total synthesis and republish his results with more spectral data. La Clair joined the discussion about the Org. Lett. paper over at In the Pipeline, where commenters called for him to put the debate to rest by providing additional data. That got us thinking about the role that data plays in putting these kinds of debates to rest. The amount of data that ends up in a publication has a lot to do with what a journal requires, so we decided to learn what different journals look for in characterization and supporting information, and how has that changed with time. Angewandte Chemie—the journal that published La Clair’s hexacyclinol synthesis—states in its Guidelines for the Preparation of Manuscripts: “The identity and purity of all new compounds must be fully characterized by appropriate analytical methods (e.g. NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystal structure analysis, elemental analysis, etc.). These data should be given in the Supporting Information in the event that they exceed the scope of the Experimental Section.” Peter Gölitz, the journal’s editor, is away this week, and ACIE’s other editors preferred not to comment on the evolution of this policy in his absence. When we hear from him, we’ll post an update. UPDATE 3/4/09: We corresponded with Peter Gölitz via email. Three updates from our conversation with Gölitz may be found further down in the text. We’re also in the process of tracking down paper copies of ACIE issue 1 from 2005, the year in which La Clair’s paper was submitted, and/or issue 1 from 2006, the year it was published. That’s where the journal prints its Guidelines for the Preparation of Manuscripts. We’ll post an update once we have that information. UPDATE 3/2/09: We’ve obtained ACIE’s Notice to Authors from 2005. The instructions for ACIE communications in 2005 are identical to the most recent guidelines, except that they are missing the “The identity and purity of all new compounds” statement mentioned above. You can read the 2005 Notice to Authors at the link below. supporting-material-requirements-2005-angew.pdf Peter Stang, Editor of JACS, tells us, “We look for a body of information that fully supports the claims made, and that information depends on the field.” That guiding philosophy hasn’t changed with time, but the particulars have evolved. For instance,...

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