Talk:List of important publications in chemistry

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This is the talk page for a list of important publications in chemistry, organized by field.

Some reasons why a particular publication might be regarded as important:

  • Topic creator – A publication that created a new topic.
  • Breakthrough – A publication that changed scientific knowledge significantly.
  • Influence – A publication which has significantly influenced the world or has had a massive impact on the teaching of chemistry.

There has been debate about policy for this page with a view to keeping it NPOV and the following items have received some support by consensus. If you want to edit the page please take note of these policies.

  1. Books for inclusion can be added in the usual Wikipedia way by anyone editing the page. However it is expected that each entry should give a brief description of the book and a statement of the importance of the publication. The importance could be further developed on the talk page.
  2. Where the editor has failed to add the description and importance statement, they will be advised to add these (if of course they are registered on Wikipedia and have a user talk page).
  3. Failure to add the description and importance statements after 7 days is reason enough for the entry to be deleted.
  4. New entries will be opened for debate on the talk page with Wikipedians asked to state whether the entry should be deleted or kept. This debate will be open for a month but may be closed after 10 days if clear consensus is reached. The debate should centre around whether the entry can be included while maintaining the Wikipedia NPOV.
  5. Articles from journals or review books can be included but they should be of very great significance. Journal titles alone should not be included and will be deleted without debate. Journal titles should be added to List of scientific journals in chemistry.

Earlier comment to January 31st, 2006 archived to Talk:List of publications in chemistry/Archive 1

Comment to February 2008 archived to Talk:List of publications in chemistry/Archive 2

Time for action on rules of inclusion[edit]

I think the above section reached a consensus five months ago to delete the "Introduction" and "Latest and Greatest" criteria. Since there is no further comment, I will take the initiative and remove these two criteria at the beginning of both the talk page and the article.

The next step is to decide which publications to delete. The above discussion mentions the texts in physical(3), analytical, environmental and medicinal chemistry. Could we now have more comments on whether these six texts should be deleted? Dirac66 (talk) 04:36, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for doing that and apologies for inactivity on this page for some time. I have no problem with the new truncated list of criteria, except that I might perhaps support under "influence" adding something like "or has had a massive influence on the teaching of chemistry". I think a small number of books have had such an influence. I have always thought that "Atkins" and "Cotton and Wilkinson" had such an influence but it might just have been for my generation and other books have had a similar influence in other generations. As for the list of entries to be deleted, my list differs from yours. It would be:

  1. Advanced Inorganic Chemistry F. Albert Cotton and Geoffrey Wilkinson
  2. Physical Chemistry P. W. Atkins
  3. Physical Chemistry R. Stephen Berry, Stuart A. Rice, and John Ross
  4. Quantitative analysis Day, R. A. and Arthur L. Underwood
  5. Electrochemical Methods: Fundamentals and Applications Allen J. Bard, Larry R. Faulkner
  6. The Practice of Medicinal Chemistry Camille Georges Wermuth editor

I have added (1) and (5), as both seem to me to be standard texts.

I do not agree about:

  • The Structure of Physical Chemistry C. N. Hinshelwood
  • Aquatic Chemistry, Chemical Equilibria and Rates in Natural Waters Stumm, Werner and James J. Morgan.

The first is not a text book in the accepted sense but a scholarly work that did have a great influence, although it needs sourcing. The second is rather beyond a text I think, and it is sourced.

I have to say that both of us have let the organic chemists off rather easily as some of those entries are close to being texts. For 4 of them, the word "introduction" should be removed from the "importance" section, as it should for the first Lavoisier entry.

We need to have another go at finding sources, and them trying to expand, with a clear criteria of "no source, no entry". --Bduke (Discussion) 01:49, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments. I agree with adding "or has had a massive influence on the teaching of chemistry". However this suggests that your two examples (Atkins, Cotton and Wilkinson) should be retained, contrary to your deletion list! Perhaps the criterion should be not "massive influence" but "massive impact", to suggest that we compare each book with what came before. I would retain Cotton and Wilkinson which greatly changed the teaching of inorganic chemistry by pioneering the integration of bonding theory and descriptive inorganic chemistry. Atkins on the other hand is more a continuation of a gradual development (among others: Moelwyn-Hughes, Glasstone and Lewis, Moore, Levine) so is more worthy of deletion.
I will accept your judgment to delete Bard and Faulkner, and retain Hinshelwood as well as Stumm and Morgan (I don't know these 3 books very well). I agree that some organic texts should be deleted, but the choice would best be made by an organic chemist(s), again considering the impact of each book relative to what went before. Lavoisier on the other hand I would leave alone, since an introduction to chemistry had much more impact in 1789 than more recently.
Finally I question the necessity of sourcing an opinion for every book. Some sources are impressive, e.g. the Stockholm Water Prize citation for Stumm and Morgan. But it is less clear for example that the opinion of a non-scientist such as Bill Bryson really adds to the reliability of the information about Gibbs. When we cannot find a useful source, I think the book (or paper) can be retained anyway if its importance is clear to the usual editors of this article. Dirac66 (talk) 23:37, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
First, sources: You say "I would retain Cotton and Wilkinson which greatly changed the teaching of inorganic chemistry by pioneering the integration of bonding theory and descriptive inorganic chemistry". How do we know this unless a source tells us so? I can not find a source on Atkins either. I think Levine was later than Atkins' first edition and I recall it lead Moore to really make changes for the next edition, but this is just my memory. Glasstone was just terribly boring. I was brought up on it. Atkins was a breath of fresh air when I was teaching Phys Chem. We need sources. For Gibbs, we just need a better source, which should be findable.
Second, I have changed my mind on Hinshelwood. I spent a couple of hours yesterday looking for sources. The only mention of the book is one sentence in his massive Royal Society Memoir and that saying more positive things about another book by him. It can go.
Third, Organic books. Yes, we need more advice, but I would still remove the word "Introduction" under "Importance" because it is pointing to a criteria that we no longer have. Anyway, I think the defense to keep them would be that they are reference. None of them is a standard year 2 text. For Lavoisier we could leave it in if we are adding the "massive impact on teaching" bit. I agree about "impact" rather than "influence". --Bduke (Discussion) 00:08, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
For Cotton and Wilkinson I have found Cotton's obituary from the Telegraph here. Paragraph 2 describes the book and its influence, including the words "led to a fundamental shift in the way in which inorganic chemistry was studied". And yes, remove the word "introduction" as a description of books. Dirac66 (talk) 02:02, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

OK, taking it slowly I have added the reference for C & W, removed "introduction" for the organic entries and modified the 3rd criteria. The list for deletion now seems to be:-

  1. Physical Chemistry P. W. Atkins
  2. Physical Chemistry R. Stephen Berry, Stuart A. Rice, and John Ross
  3. Quantitative analysis Day, R. A. and Arthur L. Underwood
  4. Electrochemical Methods: Fundamentals and Applications Allen J. Bard, Larry R. Faulkner
  5. The Practice of Medicinal Chemistry Camille Georges Wermuth editor
  6. The Structure of Physical Chemistry C. N. Hinshelwood

but I would suggest we postpone doing the deletions to allow others to comment or find better references that show they meet the new criteria. -- (talk) 00:09, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. Dirac66 (talk) 01:03, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Reprise 2011[edit]

Two years on we have just rejected the third consecutive new suggestion for textbooks: Cramer, Odian, Branch and Calvin. I think it is time to delete the six texts listed above as well for the reasons already discussed. (And I think 58.164... was BDuke who forgot to login that day? Geolocate says that IP number is in Melbourne.) Dirac66 (talk) 01:27, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

I have been looking at the other lists and found several that are not included in List of important publications in science. They are now. I have also been thinking about Wikipedia:WikiProject Science pearls, which started these lists off. It is essentially inactive. It has a silly name that is confusing. It does no bring editors to this list. I am considering a different tack for it and hope to raise this more widely in a few days. I have also been examining the other lists and I will report the start to this in the table below.

List No. of entries No. of refs No. of articles
Chemistry 32 15 3
Mathematics 108 41 36
Statistics 34 20 3
Biology 61 1 5
Geology 34 1 2
Physics 86 30 8
Medecine 9 9 1

I will try to add to this in the next few days. "No. of articles" indicates the number of items in the list that actually have a wikipedia article. We should be aiming for all of them to have an article to indicate that all items are notable. That Mathematics has the most articles is not surprising, as there are a lot of very old documents that are notable and have articles. Provisionally this table is showing that we do not have too many items in the list, but our criteria is somewhat tougher than others I think. I will get back to the list of 6 under discussion here when I have finished this survey. --Bduke (Discussion) 01:05, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

I have added 3 more lists to the table above. It is clear that there is significant variation between lists and also within lists. For the latter, for example, one section (sub-discipline) of the physics list gives a lot more entries but with no explanation of description or importance. All lists have significant problems with notability, or at least demonstration of notability through references. Chemistry is not unique in this and is in fact better in the ratio of references to publications. It is difficult to count the number of publications that have their own article. While going through the lists I came across several instances where I thought "Surely this must have an article" and indeed it did but it was not linked in the item on the list until I added it. This is odd, as having its own article is certainly the best way to demonstrate that the item is notable. Many list just get any redlink deleted rapidly. --Bduke (Discussion) 03:58, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

OK, back to the deletions. The list is:-

  1. Physical Chemistry P. W. Atkins
  2. Physical Chemistry R. Stephen Berry, Stuart A. Rice, and John Ross
  3. Quantitative analysis Day, R. A. and Arthur L. Underwood
  4. Electrochemical Methods: Fundamentals and Applications Allen J. Bard, Larry R. Faulkner
  5. The Practice of Medicinal Chemistry Camille Georges Wermuth editor
  6. The Structure of Physical Chemistry C. N. Hinshelwood

I am going to delete 6. I have been the main editor supporting it. I do indeed think it is important, but I have done an extensive search. It is mentioned several times, but not to the extent of it being more notable than others. Indeed I have found sources that say his The kinetics of chemical change in gaseous systems (Oxford, 1926) was more important. I will also delete Day and Underwood. I can find nothing that says it stands out as notable. An article in Analytical Chemistry (59, 1987, 829A - 835A) reports a survey of US Chemistry Departments. Day and Underwood is the 3rd most popular book (11.3%), below Harris (23.6%) and Skoog and West (31.1%). I know nothing of Electrochemistry. There is the claim that Bard and Faulkner is the most used text, but it is not sourced and would that make it notable for inclusion anyway. I will delete that one also. I can find no sources whatsoever other than book sales. I will consult some colleagues about The Practice of Medicinal Chemistry. I want to think more about Phys Chem texts. --Bduke (Discussion) 05:43, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

I agree with your decisions on deletion to date, and also with the decisions over the last year not to include certain texts. I am less supportive however of the idea that every document in the list needs its own article. The three articles we do have on documents by Boyle, Lavoisier and Gibbs are rather short and could just as well be included as sections of the articles on their authors. And I think most of the other documents are probably mentioned in the articles on their authors - if not, we can always add sections on the documents. There are a few recent documents whose authors do not yet have articles, but perhaps the notability of the document is an argument for the notability of the author as well. Dirac66 (talk) 15:49, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
I think I agree with you about publications needing an article. I was really only pointing out that many lists do indeed have that as an inclusion criteria. Lists like "Alumni of XXX" almost always only include people if they are notable enough to have an article. I do think however that more items in the list should have an article. The real aim is to get a source that backs up the reason for inclusion - a source that comments on the publication's importance or influence for example. It may well be likely that an entry is not notable if the author does not warrant an article. The author should be notable because s/he wrote a notable publication that deserves to be in this list. However, there are many academics who warrant an article, yet do not yet have one. We should certainly link to sections of an article that say something of value about the publication, not just a mere mention. All the lists, even after all these years, still do not, at least in part, meet wikipedia guidelines. I think we can trim and add to this list, however, so that it does meet the guidelines. I will have another look at it in a few days. I have an important Wikimedia Australia meeting today. --Bduke (Discussion) 00:34, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Linking to a section of an existing article (on the author for example) is a good idea, which will often be much faster than starting a new article on the document. Also the articles on the author are often longer and will give more context to the document. As a start I have linked Dalton's work to the article on Dalton, so we now have 4 links to articles.Dirac66 (talk) 02:24, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
I looked through the whole list to find existing articles with enough info on the document to justify a link and found 3 more - the articles on Mendeleev and Pauling, and for Watson-Crick a substantial article on the DNA paper itself. So now we have 7 links to articles. For the other documents I think the articles need more information on the document to justify a link. This can be in the document on the author where the information is only a paragraph or three and there is only one author. I am not sure where we should link documents with co-authors of similar notability, such as the book by Cotton and Wilkinson. Dirac66 (talk) 01:52, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Good work. I think we should try to have an article on the Cotton and Wilkinson book, but we need to get the sources together first. The Maths people have articles for books of a similar notability. --Bduke (Discussion) 03:17, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Medicinal chemistry[edit]

I sought the views of a colleague in medicinal chemistry regarding "The Practice of Medicinal Chemistry", Camille Georges Wermuth editor. His reply is interesting: "It is one of a few in the area - nothing particularly notable - but then textbooks are often like that. For a more influential med chem book you might consider Selective Toxicity by Adrien Albert". He is one of the founders of the field so it might be referenced as influential. I'll see if I can take a look. --Bduke (Discussion) 23:38, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

I know nothing of medicinal chemistry books, but this comment would suggest that we include Albert rather than Wermuth. Note also that we have an article on Adrien Albert but not on Wermuth. Dirac66 (talk) 00:34, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, but I want to look for sources. Albert is Australian so I may be able to find some. --Bduke (Discussion) 01:07, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
I looked at the references in the article on Adrien Albert. The last one at has interesting comments on Selective Toxicity in the section London Years. Dirac66 (talk) 02:07, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Physical Chemistry[edit]

Physical Chemistry [edit]

Description: The latest version (electronic) of this popular undergraduate book in Physical Chemistry comes with embedded multimedia. Easy to use and navigate and integrated into the Internet.

Importance: This book covers all the major topics of Physical Chemistry for undergraduates. It contains 19 chapters and about 100 multimedia interactions. Since it is now published by the Authors and not a book company, the price is considerably lower than hard copy versions. In addition it is available in shorter modules at even lower prices: Thermodynamics (Chpt. 1-6); Electrochemistry (Chpt. 1,7,8); Chemical Kinetics (Chpt. 1, 9, 10); Quantum and spectroscopy (Chpt. 1, 11-14); Statistical Mechanics (Chpt.1, 15); Liquids, Solids and Transport properties (Chpt. 1, 16-19)

This entry is now for debate here whether it should be kept or deleted. The debate will close on 25 July, 2011. Please discuss below.

  • Delete. There have been extensive discussions about the notability of general textbooks for the teaching of Physical Chemistry. Please look in the archives linked at the top of this page. This one is no better and no worse than many others, and it does not seem to have any really important influence. The Importance: justification above makes not claim of importance. At this stage, I do not think that this entry can be retained. It also looks to me like the Importance: and Description: sections above might be a copy of the official blurb for the book but I can not find them. This is just my feeling as they read like an official blurb. --Bduke (Discussion) 00:16, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Delete. I agree with Bduke. This article is not a catalogue of textbooks, and we have agreed to list only the most notable and influential in each branch of chemistry. I have the first edition of this one, and while it is a well-written text that I might recommend in a class, it is not sufficiently outstanding to mention in an encyclopedia. Also there is a problem of COI, since the entry was first added by one of the authors. Dirac66 (talk) 02:07, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Delete. Ditto. Sounds like an advertisement, no clear watershed impact on history of chemistry. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:35, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
I missed the COI! Very obvious. --Bduke (Discussion) 07:40, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

I have closed this discussion and removed this entry. It is clear there is consensus that this does not meet our criteria. --Bduke (Discussion) 03:20, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

Sources for lists of publications[edit]

With the need to find sources for lists of publications as highlighted by deletion discussion on related lists, I asked a colleague who collects old books on chemistry and he came up with this list:-

  • Goodman, D. and Russell, C. A. 1996 Science in Europe: 1500-1800: A primary sources anthology. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
  • Goodman, D. and Russell, C. A. 1996 Science in Europe: 1500-1800: A secondary sources anthology. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
  • Leicester, H. M. 1968 Source book in chemistry. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Knight, D. 1968 Classical Scientific papers: Chemistry. London: Mills & Boon Ltd.
  • Knight, D., 1989, Natural Science Books in English 1600 - 1900, London: Portman Books.
  • Online - Selected Classic Papers from the History of Chemistry.[1]

If anyone could find these and see whether they can be used. please do so. --Bduke (Discussion) 00:42, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

I have found Leicester in our library. The title is actually Source book in chemistry 1900-1950, and he mentions an earlier “A source book in chemistry” by him and Klickstein for the period 1400-1900 which we don’t have.
The 1900-1950 source book contains 91 papers or selections from long papers, and no books. For this period our article now has only three books (Lewis, Pauling and Wilson, Pauling) and no papers at all. Therefore there is no overlap and Leicester cannot be used to justify the present entries, although he does include papers by Lewis and by Pauling. Also of course Leicester can be used to suggest new entries for the article. The preface says that he has favoured foundation papers and papers which include authors' statements of why they chose to do what they did. And avoided "selections that are almost entirely mathematical", such as the original Debye-Huckel paper.
The source book has four parts – techniques, general + physical, organic, biochemistry. For example Part II – General + physical chemistry contains:
  • Atomic and molecular structure – papers by (principal authors only) Fajans, Soddy, TW Richards, Honigschmid, Aston, Urey, Kossel, Lewis, Langmuir (2), Latimer, Sidgwick, Debye, Ingold, van Vleck, Condon, Pauling + Wheland.
  • Physical chemistry (thermodynamics, electrolytes, kinetics) – papers by Ostwald, Nernst, Donnan, Giauque, Bjerrum, Lewis (+ Randall), Debye, Bjerrum, Bronsted, Hantzsch, Bodenstein, Semenoff, Eyring, Paneth
  • Artificial radioactivity – papers by I Curie + F Joliot, Fermi, Hahn + Strassman, Mcmillan, Seaborg (3). Dirac66 (talk) 03:17, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Here's another reference that may be useful:

Regards, RJH (talk) 16:44, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

The future[edit]

This list has just survived a deletion discussion and it has now been moved to a new title. The move was possibly inappropriate as there was no consensus anywhere and specifically there was no consensus of each of the individual list talk pages. I was, for example, going to start a discussion here. It was certainly premature. It is possible that some of the science list will be moved back. I also note that Wikipedia:WikiProject Science pearls, which is the project supporting this list, has been revitalized after a long dormant period. A new project for bibliographies, Wikipedia:WikiProject Bibliographies has been started and it is suggested that Science pearls becomes a taskforce for that project. I am about to go on a wikibreak, "out bush" as we say in Australia, and my internet access may be poor and infrequent. I thought I would start a discussion here and hope that some people would contribute in my absence. I have acted for several years as an unofficial coordinator of this list, pushing discussion of every new item to the talk page until consensus to keep it or remove it was reached. I think that kept our standards higher than some other lists, but recent work on other science lists, prompted by AfD discussions on them, has put them ahead of us.

Please let us have some views here. --Bduke (Discussion) 23:42, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

  • 1. Yes, each new item should be discussed to ensure that it is notable, and not just a textbook for example.
  • 2. I think you are doing a good job of coordination and should continue.
  • 4. I don't think the exact article name is critical, as long as the information remains available. Since some editors strongly object to the word "important" in the name, I think we can accommodate them by changing the name to "bibliography". Provided of course that we maintain inclusion criteria which require that each item is in fact important/notable. Dirac66 (talk) 02:48, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

My $0.02:

  • 3.How can we improve the list? Cite Cite Cite
  • 4.What do you think about the move to a new name? yes, Do it. Bibliography of chemistry should be the Article, not the Redir.
  • 5.Do you support Wikipedia:WikiProject Bibliographies? yes, its a good umbrella Project

Exit2DOS CtrlAltDel 06:19, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Proposed selection criteria[edit]

A perennial issue on this and similar pages is how to set criteria for the list. I have carefully considered existing guidelines and tried to craft a broad set of policies that satisfy them. I have posted it on the Science pearls talk page. I would welcome your comments. Of course, these guidelines are not intended to be binding for any particular page, but might help you choose your own selection criteria. RockMagnetist (talk) 00:08, 8 November 2011 (UTC)