Members Perspectives

125th Anniversary of the Norwegian Chemical Society

In 2018 the Norwegian Chemical Society (Norsk Kjemisk Selskap – NKS) celebrated its 125th anniversary. The NKS was founded on the 2 May 1893, in Oslo – known at the time as Kristiania. Today, the NKS has 10 divisions spanning most sub-disciplines of chemistry, as well as 7 regional groups. Membership numbers have been slowly declining for the last decade and presently the Society has approximately 1,700 members. In earlier years several activities were to a considerable extent linked to chemical industry, but setbacks have led to a lower number of chemists in industry.

The larger share of meetings take place within the regional groups and divisions, and several divisions organise annual national meetings. National chemical conventions spanning all divisions are organised every 3 – 4 years. The 2018 edition of the convention was held 16-18 October and manifested the NKS jubilee by having expanded plenary sessions with renowned international speakers. Total participation was at a historically high, with 360 attendees, and the conference banquet was equally successful in terms of attendance and spirit.

The mission of the NKS is to promote chemistry in science, technology and education as well as to represent Norwegian chemists in international organisations and groups. The governing bodies of the NKS are the Executive Board (5 members) and the Council, consisting of delegates from divisions and regional groups. On a day-to-day basis, the Society is run by its Secretary General (Harald Walderhaug, University of Oslo) and President (Hege Karlsen, head of Dept, SINTEF Molab, Oslo). The Executive Board is the contact point to national and international organisations as well as national authorities. The NKS cooperates actively with corresponding Chemical Societies in the Nordic region, and a Nordic “Presidents’ Meeting” is organised every second year. In addition to its membership in EuChemS, the NKS is a National Adhering Organisation in IUPAC and has delegates in several working groups. One national member to the ownership board of the Journal PCCP is appointed by the NKS. Members of the NKS are encouraged to publish in papers of the Royal Society of Chemistry, particularly Perkin Transactions 1 and 2, and Dalton Transactions.

The NKS runs a journal in Norwegian language (“Kjemi”) covering news and research work in a popular format. On its website, the NKS provides expertise to the general public by means of a Q&A column on chemical subjects minor and major, which has attracted a continued interest for more than a decade. On the occasion of the 125-year anniversary, a congratulatory book covering various aspects of the NKS history for the last 25 years was prepared. Keeping in mind that 25 years corresponds to the original definition of a Jubilee, this would hopefully justify celebration and reflection on past and future.

Harald Walderhaug
Secretary General, Norwegian Chemical Society

Open Access: GDCh demands improvement in “Plan S”

On 6 December 2018, the Executive Board of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (German Chemical Society, GDCh) released a statement on the so-called “Plan S”. The GDCh supports the basic intention of Plan S but criticises some of the points presented.

The cOAlition S, an association of eleven European research funding organisations, published Plan S on 4 September 2018. This plan defines ten principles for publishing research results under the conditions of Open Access. The GDCh supports the basic intention of Plan S and welcomes some of the principles. For others, however, it fears that some of the key points will have significant harmful effects on the scientists concerned and on Europe as a research location.

For example, the GDCh criticises the fact that according to the “Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S” preprint servers should explicitly not fulfil the requirement of OA publication. The GDCh together with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the American Chemical Society (ACS) recently set up the ChemRxiv preprint server, making a significant contribution to Open Access. The GDCh also criticises the view that hybrid journals would not be compatible with the Plan S principles. In this case about 85% of all journals, including renowned journals such as Angew. Chem. and J. Am. Chem. Soc. will no longer be available to authors bound to Plan S. This will have serious negative effects on authors, readers and the professional societies concerned.

“We also fear that a standardisation and limitation of author fees will especially affect high-quality journals, whose costs are necessarily higher” says GDCh Managing Director Prof. Wolfram Koch. “In chemistry, this affects the journals published by us or other chemical societies. This business model favours qualitatively average or even inferior journals and the number of so-called predatory journals will increase to the detriment of science.”

In a position paper published in December 2013, the GDCh committed itself to the freedom of the researcher and explicitly rejected mandates obliging scientists to publish openly. The exclusion of hybrid journals formulated in Plan S, the obligation to place the published work under an open licence, as well as the threatened sanctioning of non-compliance are considerable encroachments on the freedom of the researcher, says the GDCh.

The full text of the statement in German and English is available online here.

Karin J. Schmitz
Head of Public Relations, GDCh