#RealTimeChem week 2014 – Tweets of the Week

Hello everyone,

First of all, thank you very much to everyone who took part in #RealTimeChem week this year. Once again it was great fun and fantastic to see such a wide variety of chemists taking part from across the globe. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2015!

Obviously, #RealTimeChem is a 24/7 project, so feel free to keep sharing chemistry whenever you want and engage with your fellow chemists around the world.

There were a lot of really great tweets this week as seen in this years awards. This was actually really really hard to decide on. If I had enough prizes I would have given you all one. Unfortunately, only the very best of the best can win one of this years prizes.

This years must have item for the discerning chemist.

Time to find out who has won these beauties!



Below you shall find the three winners of the “Tweets of the Week” for #RealTimeChem week 2014. These three tweeters not only produced these excellent tweets, but also many more throughout the week and I think they are all worthy winners of a #RealTimeChem Week 2014 mug. Congratulations to you all!



From Monday – this tweet from the whimsical Laura Jane (@laurajane0103) was only one of many fantastic contributions during the week. It sums up a typical day in the laboratory for many in a fun way. It’s what #RealTimeChem is all about and was a great way to start the week.



From Tuesday – this polyurethane strawberry milkshake almost looked good enough to drink! Andres Tretiakov (@Andrestrujado) shared a whole host of wacky, fantastic and exciting chemistry during the week and any one of them could have won a Platinum award, but I try not to give out more than one to any contributor!




From Wednesday - food was a big theme of #RealTimeChem week this year and I’m definitely a fan of cooking (even if I’m not that good at it). John Grimes (@jgrimesjr) shared quite a range of tweets over the week, but my favourite was this close up tweet of a delicious looking peanut butter-y product. It could also be the clouds of a gas giant! Either way I love the texture in it and I also really appreciate the humour with which the tweet was delivered, chemistry often looks better than it smells!



So there you have it. If all three winners could please send me a DM on twitter with their address as soon as possible and I’ll get that prize out to you.

Once again thank you to everyone who took part in #RealTimeChem week 2014. I hope you had fun, learned something new and found some new connections in the chemistry world.

mischief managed

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-

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Things to do during #RealTimeChem week 2014

RTCWeekBannerInternational2So #RealTimeChem week 2014 is upon us!


Tweet some chemistry with #RealTimeChem

Obviously the first thing you can do is take part in #RealTimeChem week by actually tweeting what you are up to in the world of Chemistry using the hashtag #RealTimeChem.

You could even win an award in the #RealTimeChem awards, with the possibility of winning a #RealTimeChem week 2014 mug (very rare indeed!).

Join in with #RealTimeChemCarnival.


If you have a blog and are thinking of posting something this week then consider taking part in the blog carnival, which is kindly being hosted by @JessTheChemist at The Organic Solution. Just make sure you use the hashtag #RealTimeChemCarnival so that Jess can add you to the list.

If anyone is looking for blog posts to read this week, you can obviously search on twitter for the hashtag.

Have some fun with “chemistsholdingmolecularmodels“.


Have a bit of fun by uploading a picture of yourself (I believe this is what all the hip people call a selfie) holding a molecular model. This just looks like a fun little project. I wonder how many chemists and structures this can collect over time?

Just let me know when you’ve uploaded your picture by sharing with #RealTimeChem.

Draw some #Freehandrings

This was rather popular last time. So why not have a go at challenging your fellow chemists to a game of #Freehandrings. No prizes for this one, except some minor internet fame as everyone marvels at your amazing ring drawing prowess.


Try @azmanam’s #ChemDrawChallenge!

Azmanam, creator of #RealTimeChem, has challenged the community to help improve the design of well known mechanisms. Dare you try to take him on?

Anything else? 

If you have a chemistry related project that you’d like highlighted during #RealTimeChem week, then let me know and I’ll add it up here for people to find.


-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-








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Tweets of the week prizes! #RealTimeChem Week 2014

Hello all,

As you may recall last year I gave away some ChemSpider Lab Coats as prizes for the “Tweets of the Week”, which were kindly donated by the RSC. This year I’ve splashed out a little and got some #RealTimeChem branded mugs to give away to the top three Tweeters.

This years must have item for the discerning chemist.

This years must have item for the discerning chemist.

For information on how you can win a mug of your very own, check out the FAQ, which tells you all about the “RealTimeChem Awards” and how they work.

So make sure you tweet something fantastic next week for #RealTimeChem week 2014, which starts on 23rd June.

Good luck!

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-

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RealTimeChem Week 2014 – starts 23rd June 2014

Dear RealTimeChem brigade & other chemists of the world,

This year’s #RealTimeChem Week will take place the week starting Monday 23rd June 2014.

For further information check out the updated FAQ. Posters you can use are still to come if anyone fancies designing some I will happily put them up on the FAQ for people to use.



So please spread the word and I hope you’ll share something fantastic with us that week in the Twitterverse.



-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-


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Milestones and RealTimeChem Week 2014

Hello everybody!

The Blog lives! I have been away from it for a little too long. To be fair, I’ve been busy with work and life in general, both of which haven’t left much time for writing. However, I aim to get back in the saddle in the next few months. I’ve got a few ideas regarding #RealTimeChem and creating a hub on the blog for chemists to come to and find useful resources. First priority though it to update the FAQ for #RealTimeChem for general use so that newcomers know what it’s all about. I’ve almost completed so fingers crossed it’ll be up in the next few weeks.

While Doctor Galactic and the Lab Coat Cowboy has been off the interweb, the Twitter account has continued to document some great #RealTimeChem from across the world and last week it reached a significant milestone by gaining it’s 2000th follower (which is still less than Chemistry Cat…). It’s also past 9,500 Tweets and closing in on the magical 10,000th tweet (we’ve actually Tweeted more times than both Nature Chemistry and Chemistry World, but notably not more than infamous tweet splurgers Angewandte Chemie), the vast majority of these tweets are retweets of actual Real-time chemistry in action. There’s been a fantastic amount of variety in location and content of these Tweets and I’m always excited to log in each day and see what everyone’s been up to.

When I started the feed I didn’t believe it’d ever reach such a number and it’s a testament to the fantastic chemistry community on Twitter that it’s got this far. So thanks to everyone who has joined in so far and I hope you’ll continue to share your chemistry and have fun engaging with other chemists around the world. I am open to any ideas and suggestions from the community for what #RealTimeChem can do for them, so feel free to email me at RealTimeChem@gmail.com.

I imagine many of you are wondering about this….

Real Time Chem Week 2014 - it'll happen. Once we've decided WHEN it'll happen.

Real Time Chem Week 2014 – it’ll happen. Once we’ve decided WHEN it’ll happen.

Certainly, the second annual RealTimeChem week will be happening this year. It will likely run slightly differently. There will probably be some new prizes if I can snag some. The question is this…when should it be? As usual this shall be decided by you, the community.

I’ve been a late on the game so April is a little bit out of the running this year, as the event needs some proper prep time. You can vote for up to 3 different months and if you have any more specific suggestions for the timing of the event, then please sound off in the comments section.

Anywho, I must bid you adieu for now.


-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-









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Welcome to Chemistry Week 2013


Hello everyone!
As you may be aware this week is Chemistry Week! This is run every two years by the Royal Society of Chemistry and highlights the importance of Chemistry to the masses. This years theme is health, to which chemistry has made more than a significant contribution.

If you want to know more about the week and the events that are being run, here’s a useful link to the RSC page for Chemistry Week here.

If, like me, you are a social media geek then you can follow events via the hashtag #ChemistryWeek.

@RealTimeChem will be highlighting as much Chemistry Week material as it can find. In addition, this week is the perfect week to show us your chemistry, so use either #ChemistryWeek or #RealTimeChem to let the world know about it, particularly if it is health related.

Looking forward to all the Chemistry Week fun!

-The Lab Coat Cowboy-


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Could more be done to teach young chemists the right ethics?

Disclaimer: As always this is just my opinion. In fact, this blog post is more of a stream of consciousness that I’ve had today more than a structured argument. Please feel free to discuss this issue with me on Twitter (@doctor_galactic) or in the comments section.

Do young scientists need more guidance on scientific ethics?

Do young scientists need more guidance on scientific ethics?

I imagine that by now most of the chemistry community is aware of the “Dorta affair” that has been recently exposed by ChemBark. In brief, a recently published article in the journal Organometallics contained a rather suspcious note in its supporting information that seemed to suggest that the principal investigator was asking his student to fabricate elemental analysis data (the actual supporting information can be found here).

This line will probably lead to a "meme". Please just don't. Do something with cats instead.

This line will probably lead to a “meme”. Please just don’t. Do something with cats instead.

How this note, which appears on page 12, came to be, what it actually means and how it got through the peer review process are all under investigation. Unsurprisingly, this issue has sparked a huge amount of debate. As for my own two pence on the issue, I’m reserving judgement until all of the facts have been fully revealed. Let’s just say it does not look good, at all. I will say that I hope that everyone stays professional as distinctly dislike “witch hunts” and “personal assassinations”. So far, the authors have not defended themselves and they should have the opportunity to do so. The paper is currently I believe being withdrawn.

All in all though seeing something like this in a published work reminds me of a song by Tim Vine and should sound “Alarm Bells”:

Science in general is receiving an ever increasing amount of scrutiny concerning just how widespread fraud is, be it plagiarism, deception, bribery, sabotage, professorial misconduct or simply making shit up. A lot of this is likely a symptom of the “publish or perish” culture that seems to have a vice-like grip on the scientific world. Research-oriented universities put pressure on scholars, particularly those early in their careers, to publish as much as possible. This can detract from the amount of time that they have to actually teach and train undergraduates and postgraduates. Universities largely don’t seem to hire on teaching/mentoring ability, but rather by apparent research prowess. This approach can be detrimental to creating the next generation of scientists.

Anyway, all of this leads to some questions (and the point of this already rambling blog post); from where do we new chemists learn our scientific ethical compass? And could we do more to teach chemists (and scientists in general) the correct ethics?

PhD comics has a comic covering most things in your PhD and a lot of them are very accurate.

One imagines that the biggest influence on your ethical choices as a student of the sciences are your teachers, lecturers and subsequently your PhD supervisor. Let’s go straight to the example of PhD students. I’ve certainly worked for senior chemists who were ethical and always encouraged the right sort of behaviour. But, what if they hadn’t? What if you do have a supervisor who encourages you to do something that is not ethically correct? Most of us would say that we’d cry foul and say no. However, clearly this is not the case for all of us. It seems that would probably go along what our supervisor suggests, PhD’s are stressful, supervisors often want results all the time, corners may be cut and it may seem all perfectly innocent and reasonable if your supervisor says it’s okay. They are your direct boss. This is the person you work for after all, they are your scientific mentor.

Of course it’s perfectly possible that a supervisor can be ethically perfect and a student can still do things that are not. In which case it is still the supervisors responsiblity to: a) spot this and b) stamp it out.

By the time you get to being a PhD student you should have already developed a strong idea of the ethical rights and wrongs of science. You should feel empowered enough to say no if you are asked to do something that you know is wrong. This empowerment and the ideals should come from the top down at your University (that place of learning that you’re spending a huge amount of money to attend). They should have provided you with ethical guidelines and a structure by which to report any ethical problems that you run into. However, is what you get from your University on this subject adequate?

I posted the following question on Twitter to my chemistry based followers (of which I have quite a few these days!):

The response so far have ranged from PhDs being given full courses (even at the undergraduate level) to practically nothing at all. In my own experience, I don’t recall any formal courses or talks being made at my University on this subject, at least not any that were mandatory or weren’t so perfunctory that I actually could remember them. Like a lot of universities mine ran “doctoral workshops”, but attendance at these was never truly enforced, they are merely suggestions. This can vary wildly from insitution to instuition, and from supervisor to supervisor. Yet, it really shouldn’t. There should be some kind of set standard level of training. The general impression given during a PhD is that your laboratory work comes first and everything else is secondary and should happen off your own back. In part, I feel like this is actually okay sometimes, after all, every PhD students should take responsibility for their own career and personal development.

Take this place. Not that hot on the ethics. At least it’s only a Disney film.

The question becomes, are universities giving PhD students the tools to do this? I have only good things to say about the supervisors I have worked for, but I cannot say the same for the institutions I have worked at. I haven’t written a blog post on my experiences with university administrations (mainly because it brings up bad memories and I think it’s time to let bygones be bygones), but suffice to say that I have generally felt, at times, like those higher up have an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude toward postgraduates.

At my postgraduate university the grand sum of ethics training for PhD student was a handbook to read and a form to sign. It’s all in there of course, in black and white, the “do’s and don’ts” and the consequences and processes, but these are just words on a page. It’s something you read, sign a piece of paper to say that you have read it and then, probably, never read again. That’s it. All ethic’d up for 3-4 years. The same kind of forms and hand books come out again at Post Doctoral stage.

I think that universities should take more responsibility for ensuring that students are adequately equipped to understand and follow the ethical guidelines of science. That students feel empowered enough to take a stand and report unethical behaviour and recognise that a good scientist is an ethical scientist. It is something that should be drilled into those learning science from the moment they enter an institution of higher learning until the day that they leave it (preferably before this). I’d advocate training courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and post doctoral levels, giving case studies, advice and information about the procedures in place at the university to deal with ethical issues.

This should really form only a small part of an all around more adequate training for postgraduate students at all higher education institutions. So that PhD students are better equipped for their future careers. Currently, it’s a complete lottery in terms of the amount and quality of extra training and support that are available to postgraduates and this should not be the case.

Going back to the title of this blog post; could more be done to teach young chemists the right ethics?


-The Lab Coat Cowboy-

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