Berkeley chemist Mitch Garcia, who runs ChemicalForums.com has come up with a “novel” way to evaluate the chemical literature that will complement current ways of evaluating a particular paper. At the moment, the only way to determine whether a particular experiment is valid are to trust the quality of the peer review process for the particular journal in question, attempt to repeat the experiment yourself, check out how many other chemists are citing the paper, or somehow try to relate the quality of the paper to the author’s h-index, an altogether more ephemeral and perhaps elitist quality.
Garcia has now launched ChemRank, which will augment this unwieldy process by allowing individuals to post a reference and then see others vote on whether or not the paper in question is any good or not. Those papers with the most votes will rise to the top, while the less worthy will essentially sink. The system will rely on building a big enough userbase and somehow ensuring that chemists don’t simply spam their own papers or vote arbitrarily for their friends and Profs. How effective Garcia’s system will be remains to be seen as it has only just launched. The number of papers currently being voted on is small and the number of votes is low, so take a look and if you feel like digging chemistry, make your vote count.