Saturday, 18 April 2009

New Tool from ChemSpider

Wikipedia has been working with ChemSpider for some time now, and they have just launched a new feature on their site to help Wikipedia editors:

We have the Wikipedia article lead in thousands of records on ChemSpider now. They are updated regularly as Wikipedia itself expands. One of the areas we have been focused on since the inception of the work was getting correct structures in place with the associated data. This includes the molecular formula, molecular weight, SMILES, InChI String, InChIKey, systematic name and so on. In order to help the process of expanding Wikipedia with new records and to provide a lot of these data automatically we have set about providing a Wikipedia Service so that Wikipedians can use ChemSpider as the source of the chemical structures of interest and generate the DrugBox and ChemBox content from ChemSpider. It’s a rather simple process…ChemSpider Blog, Mar 2009

The way it works is that you go to a ChemSpider page (like this one on musk xylene), then click on the "Wikibox" link in the top right-hand corner. A new window opens with a facility for downloading a molecular structure image and some code which can be copy-pasted into a Wikipedia article to start the infobox on that compound.

The information which ChemSpider fils in automagically is fairly limited for the moment. This is because ChemSpider has similar data curation problems to Wikipedia – they need to be sure that they data is correct! In fact, the issue is one of the big points of our collaboration, but I won't shout about it too much in public until we have some concrete results rather than just good ideas.

As often with our external collaborations, this new feature at ChemSpider raises as many issues for Wikipedia as it resolves. Should we just have it available in English, or should we translate the feature into other languages? How should the WikiProjects at other languages get involved with ChemSpider (if they're even interested)? What information should Wikipedia be providing in tabular format, and which should be explained in prose?

But for the time being, the new ChemSpider tool is certainly helpful, and a nice visible reminder of the important work that both sites do for the chemical information community as a whole.

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