Welcome to RateThisReaction.com, a website for researchers to rate and review published chemical reactions! Please sign up for a free account, take a look at the Tutorial and start posting reviews today!.
TL;DR: So what is this website about?
Well, first of all, let's admit that organic reactions are already hard as they are, and we would really appreciate if literature procedures are clear and easy to follow.
Unfortunately, most peer-reviewing process does not check the procedures for reproducibility, and in life sciences, it has been estimated that irreproducibility rate exceeds 50%! (PLoS Biol. 13, e1002165, 2015)
While things are not as bad in chemical research, I'm sure we all have run literature reactions for which the description is vague, the yield much lower, or the purification much more complicated than claimed. What do we do? We keep the results in the notebook and admit that we suck at organic chemistry.
Not any more with RateThisReaction.com! Here you can post reactions you have run and compare your results to those of other people. The goal is to compile, from the hands-on experience of hundreds of thousands of chemistry students and researchers, a useful knowledge database, which can serve as a guidebook for current and future chemists. A secondary goal is to encourage people to write clear procedures in SI's and repeat their own results before publishing.
Prior to 2000, travelers had limited means to research the hotels they are booking, other than, well, through words of mouth or prior experience. Less adventurous souls stick to the few well-known chains, while bolder travelers sometimes get lucky and encounter unexpectedly nice experience. Other times, however, the stays are less than pleasant, to which they say to themselves, better luck next time.
Then came TripAdvisor, where travelers pool their prior experience into a useful guidebook on which hotels to stay, which restaurants to dine in, and which ones to avoid. In addition, reviewers often give you reasons for a high or low ratings, so that you can get the full picture.
Now do you see the similarities between booking hotels and replicating published procedures?
As chemists, we repeat (or try to repeat) literature reactions all the time. Have you not found yourself in a situation where you followed a literature procedure and just couldn’t get the right product (and wished someone had told you so)? Or there are tons of generic procedures for, say, a biaryl coupling or a deprotection, and you don’t know which one is the best for your particular substrate or the easiest to run?
While we don’t “pay” for reactions per se, as we do for hotels or restaurants, we still give credits where due, namely by citing a paper when using its procedures.
Often, for convenience, we just stick to the few proven protocols that we are familiar with. But then, what’s the point of publishing new methods, if they are only seldom used?
Have you ever felt that IF ONLY there is a website that publishes reviews on chemical reactions and gives a more complete picture of reactions than the mere text description in the SI?
Well, now there is.
Here at RateThisReaction.com, you can post reviews on literature reactions you conducted, or use other people’s reviews and advice to plan your synthetic route.
Have you ever followed a procedure and just couldn’t get the product? Have you ever wondered, is that you, or is that the reaction? Well now you don’t need to doubt yourself anymore. Here you can check if others are also having trouble with this reaction, or if they offer some tips for troubleshooting.
Ever searched on SciFinder for a relatively simple, but not commercially available substrate, and got tons of results? Which one should you use? Here, instead of clicking through all the SI’s, choose your reaction based on other people’s reviews!
If you publish a methodology paper and people use that protocol, you will get cited. Here, we welcome you to post your own papers and reactions and give them 5-star ratings. After all, you should be fully confident with your own research, shouldn’t you? The higher the average rating of a reaction, the more likely people will use it, and the more citation you will get!
An important aspect of scientific research is sharing knowledge. The more you post, the more useful this website will become, which in turn, will cause others to come back and post their experience. Please tell us about a reaction you ran recently. Was the SI clearly written? Did the procedure give you the expected product in reported yields? How easy was the isolation? Was it a straightforward column, or did it smear on the TLC? It is details like those that really affect the broad adoption of the procedure, not just the glamorous reaction scheme itself.
Before, there was no glory in replication efforts. You successfully repeated a literature reaction? Well, that’s what you are supposed to be capable of. You couldn’t even follow a literature procedure? Oh don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s the reaction… says no PI ever.
Now, on RateThisReaction.com, you can transform your otherwise unnoteworthy success (or failure) in the lab into guidance for others. Become an influencer and help others troubleshoot and avoid pitfalls!
Most papers are only judged by the main manuscript, and the SI content is often not scrutinized. Now, with vigilantes from the chemistry community patrolling the journal space, it’s more likely that people will be more detailed and more accurate in writing the SI, or else they might come under fire!
We believe that procedures in all peer-reviewed journals should be clear, complete, and reproducible, just like those procedures published in Org. Synth. and Inorg. Synth. This, however, is not the case. Protocols in many papers often lack crucial details, which makes the results difficult to be reproduced. And what’s the point of publishing, if people cannot follow the procedures?
Apart from that, the text description in papers often does not offer the full picture. As someone who personally runs reactions in lab, you will probably want to know how difficult the isolation is, or if the purity of the solvent or reagent has a significant impact on the yields.
Globally, 100k research chemists run 50k reactions a day, or 5 million reactions a year. Together, there is a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience out there that are kept only to the personal lab notebooks of those researchers.
If science is about building upon earlier discoveries and experiences to reach new height, then there needs to be a platform for researchers to share those experiences. Journal publications document novel discoveries and breakthroughs. We are here to show the less glamourous, but equally important side of research ‒ the actual bench work. In essence, we believe that researchers should not waste time on questionable procedures that someone else has already tried and failed, or feel lost when looking at the myriad of reactions and not knowing the hands-on experience from other people who have run those reactions.
So we built this website to pool the experience and knowledge together into a guidebook for chemists.
We ask you to be honest and professional in reviews and comments. Use more “I” statements, such as “I did not get the right product”, which is irrefutable, rather than “you/they” statements, such as “their procedure is a joke”. Remember, we are not here to uncover academic frauds or promote academic feuds, but to provide subjective opinion on actually conducting the reactions.
While inspired by RateMyProfessor.com, we didn’t name the website “RateMyReaction” because, technically, the reactions you are rating are not “your” reactions. If anything, they belong to the original authors. Besides, Prof. John F. Hartwig would never approve of a name such as “RateMyReaction”. “It’s not my reaction, just like it’s not my palladium!”, he would tell you.
We are a team of researchers at University of California, Berkeley who want to make the life of research chemists easier and less frustrating and to promote better publishing habits (e.g. reproducing the results in-house before publishing!).
Post a review today and be heard! Happy voting!