Chemical “How-to’s”

Hooray for the Royal Society of Chemistry!If you’ve never heard of Chem. Soc. Rev.’s “tutorials” series, you’re missing out. Tutorials are essentially mini-reviews written by academic chemists specifically geared towards the average graduate student. They cut out all the fancy language and experimental detail that tend to bulk up the average article in, say, Chem. Rev., and present both background information and recent developments on all kinds of topics. They read almost like chapters out of a textbook, which is nice for someone like me, who’s been learning from textbooks for the past four years (not to discount the wonderful faculty at the University of Kentucky…). I’d put them just about halfway between the down-and-dirty, expository literature and the flowery, hand-wavy chemistry textbook.

If you’re looking for a typical example of a tutorial, I’d highly recommend a recent paper by J.B. Sweeney on Sigmatropic Rearrangements of ‘Onium’ Ylid(e)s. Despite the utterly obscure title, the article does a nice job of describing the breadth of rearrangements that are even theoretically possible as well as the synthetic utility of the reactions that actually do happen in real life. A useful primer for the chemist who might be thinking of using an ylid(e) rearrangement as part of a synthetic sequence–but definitely not an exhaustive reference and not the place to go for tables upon tables of substrate data. Just a nice, current exposition of the state of heteroatomic ylid chemistry at present.

Now the only question is: when is the ACS going to pick up on something like this?!* Angewandte has Highlights, Chem. Soc. Rev. has Tutorials…it seems like everywhere you look outside of the U.S., the chemical literature is actually interested in helping students learn (apologies to J. Chem. Educ., which I don’t tend to read often). Then again, that’s the American spirit, right? Progress, progress, progress…education is just a means to an end. Besides, printing costs way too much these days to waste paper and bandwidth on students, right? Absurd!

* – Here’s where you, gentle readers, make me look like an idiot by linking to some analogous ACS series that I missed.


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