Research and the Scourge of Time Wasted

Good morning!

So today my professor returned from his vacation and we were able to get together and discuss some of our recent issues building our iridium pincer catalyst. This spring I was able to synthesize a ligand for the iridium that was unable to be synthesized prior, and we would have been able to publish into a scientific journal had the iridium actually took. The ligand initially exhibited a beautiful deep red/burgundy color under the addition of the transition metal, but alas our success was not to be. The molecule degraded during reflux and we have been working on the theoretical reason and hopefully after having set up the lab today for the experiment, I will be able to successfully synthesize the ligand-Ir pincer complex. The R-groups coming out off the POCOP pincer are unique, at least in the literature, but that is one reason I am writing this post.

The scientific process is fundamental to research endeavors everywhere, but the failures are not recorded. One would think, well of course not! why would you record the failures? My argument is that a database of recorded failures, which have failed in multiple settings, would go a long way in increasing the overall efficiency of the scientific process. This source would be an easily searchable reservoir which would allow scientists to create an educated opinion on whether they would wish to attempt a procedure or not.This database would allow for less waste of materials, in the billions of dollars.

Sadly, who would submit to the database? A database takes funds to run, and that means subscription(I doubt ads would cut it), and if you do submit you possibly give your economic opponents an upper-hand in the patent race. Is the business model therefore nonviable? Or would, for the sake of efficiency, would the global scientific community participate? The global atmosphere is leaning towards greener chemistry and the slow but inevitable movement towards better resource management on a global scale push chemists and chemical/pharmaceutical labs towards this, but would it be enough?

I’m left wondering, has someone else already attempted these specific R-groups? If so what was their procedure? If they did, they either 1) were unable to develop publishable results, 2) were unable to develop an activated Ir complex with this ligand structure, or 3) I merely have not been able to find the paper yet in the slush pile that is the world’s collection of scientific journals. (I doubt this however has I have searched far and wide and being within the confines of the university and an ACS member myself, something should have come up somewhere via the search engines).

Science is a beautiful machine, constantly churning results out, and discarding ones which either do not embrace as close an image of reality as the former, is merely non-repeatable, or was somehow corrupted due to research bias. (There is a term for that, and it’s not a pretty one, but it escapes me for the moment.) Research bias is like a virus that inflicts waste via time and resources. ESPECIALLY if it is done on purpose and merely as a way to put out a paper and be published. In the scientific community this is a shameful practice.

With the lack of a failure database, I am unable to confirm or even speculate without doing the bench work whether this ligand is a viable option as a pincer. Alas, perhaps that is my young idealistic naive self rooting for the good in humanities heart? Feign off your lust for greed, open up the possibilities of cooperation and faster advancement.

Either way *puts goggles on* back to work.


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