Nature (journal)

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History

Background

The enormous progress in science and mathematics during the 19th century was recorded in journals written mostly in German or French, as well as in English. Britain underwent enormous technological and industrial changes and advances particularly in the latter half of the 19th century. [7] In English the most respected scientific journals of this time were the refereed journals of the Royal Society, which had published many of the great works from Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday through to early works from Charles Darwin. In addition, during this period, the number of popular science periodicals doubled from the 1850s to the 1860s. [8] According to the editors of these popular science magazines, the publications were designed to serve as "organs of science", in essence, a means of connecting the public to the scientific world. [8]

Nature, first created in 1869, was not the first magazine of its kind in Britain. One journal to precede Nature was Recreative Science: A Record and Remembrancer of Intellectual Observation, which, created in 1859, began as a natural history magazine and progressed to include more physical observational science and technical subjects and less natural history. [9] The journal's name changed from its original title to Intellectual Observer: A Review of Natural History, Microscopic Research, and Recreative Science and then later to the Student and Intellectual Observer of Science, Literature, and Art. [10] While Recreative Science had attempted to include more physical sciences such as astronomy and archaeology, the Intellectual Observer broadened itself further to include literature and art as well. [10] Similar to Recreative Science was the scientific journal Popular Science Review, created in 1862, [11] which covered different fields of science by creating subsections titled "Scientific Summary" or "Quarterly Retrospect", with book reviews and commentary on the latest scientific works and publications. [11] Two other journals produced in England prior to the development of Nature were the Quarterly Journal of Science and Scientific Opinion , established in 1864 and 1868, respectively. [10] The journal most closely related to Nature in its editorship and format was The Reader , created in 1863; the publication mixed science with literature and art in an attempt to reach an audience outside of the scientific community, similar to Popular Science Review. [10]

These similar journals all ultimately failed. The Popular Science Review survived longest, lasting 20 years and ending its publication in 1881; Recreative Science ceased publication as the Student and Intellectual Observer in 1871. The Quarterly Journal, after undergoing a number of editorial changes, ceased publication in 1885. The Reader terminated in 1867, and finally, Scientific Opinion lasted a mere 2 years, until June 1870. [9]

Creation

First title page, 4 November 1869 Nature cover, November 4, 1869.jpg
First title page, 4 November 1869

Not long after the conclusion of The Reader, a former editor, Norman Lockyer, decided to create a new scientific journal titled Nature, [12] taking its name from a line by William Wordsworth: "To the solid ground of nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye". [13] First owned and published by Alexander Macmillan, Nature was similar to its predecessors in its attempt to "provide cultivated readers with an accessible forum for reading about advances in scientific knowledge." [12] Janet Browne has proposed that "far more than any other science journal of the period, Nature was conceived, born, and raised to serve polemic purpose." [12] Many of the early editions of Nature consisted of articles written by members of a group that called itself the X Club, a group of scientists known for having liberal, progressive, and somewhat controversial scientific beliefs relative to the time period. [12] Initiated by Thomas Henry Huxley, the group consisted of such important scientists as Joseph Dalton Hooker, Herbert Spencer, and John Tyndall, along with another five scientists and mathematicians; these scientists were all avid supporters of Darwin's theory of evolution as common descent, a theory which, during the latter half of the 19th century, received a great deal of criticism among more conservative groups of scientists. [14] Perhaps it was in part its scientific liberality that made Nature a longer-lasting success than its predecessors. John Maddox, editor of Nature from 1966 to 1973 as well as from 1980 to 1995, suggested at a celebratory dinner for the journal's centennial edition that perhaps it was the journalistic qualities of Nature that drew readers in; "journalism" Maddox states, "is a way of creating a sense of community among people who would otherwise be isolated from each other. This is what Lockyer's journal did from the start." [15] In addition, Maddox mentions that the financial backing of the journal in its first years by the Macmillan family also allowed the journal to flourish and develop more freely than scientific journals before it. [15]

Editors

Norman Lockyer, the founder of Nature, was a professor at Imperial College. He was succeeded as editor in 1919 by Sir Richard Gregory. [16] Gregory helped to establish Nature in the international scientific community. His obituary by the Royal Society stated: "Gregory was always very interested in the international contacts of science, and in the columns of Nature he always gave generous space to accounts of the activities of the International Scientific Unions." [17] During the years 1945 to 1973, editorship of Nature changed three times, first in 1945 to A. J. V. Gale and L. J. F. Brimble (who in 1958 became the sole editor), then to John Maddox in 1965, and finally to David Davies in 1973. [16] In 1980, Maddox returned as editor and retained his position until 1995. Philip Campbell became Editor-in-chief of all Nature publications until 2018. Magdalena Skipper has since become Editor-in-chief. [16]

Expansion and development

In 1970, Nature first opened its Washington office; other branches opened in New York in 1985, Tokyo and Munich in 1987, Paris in 1989, San Francisco in 2001, Boston in 2004, and Hong Kong in 2005. In 1971, under John Maddox's editorship, the journal split into Nature Physical Sciences (published on Mondays), Nature New Biology (published on Wednesdays) and Nature (published on Fridays). In 1974, Maddox was no longer editor, and the journals were merged into Nature. [18]

Starting in the 1980s, the journal underwent a great deal of expansion, launching over ten new journals. These new journals comprise Nature Research, which was created in 1999 under the name Nature Publishing Group and includes Nature, Nature Research Journals, Stockton Press Specialist Journals and Macmillan Reference (renamed NPG Reference).

In 1996, Nature created its own website [19] and in 1999 Nature Publishing Group began its series of Nature Reviews. [16] Some articles and papers are available for free on the Nature website. Others require the purchase of premium access to the site. Nature claims an online readership of about 3 million unique readers per month. [20]

On 30 October 2008, Nature endorsed an American presidential candidate for the first time when it supported Barack Obama during his campaign in America's 2008 presidential election. [21] [22]

In October 2012, an Arabic edition of the magazine was launched in partnership with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. As of the time it was released, it had about 10,000 subscribers. [23]

On 2 December 2014, Nature announced that it would allow its subscribers and a group of selected media outlets to share links allowing free, "read-only" access to content from its journals. These articles are presented using the digital rights management system ReadCube (which is funded by the Macmillan subsidiary Digital Science), and does not allow readers to download, copy, print, or otherwise distribute the content. While it does, to an extent, provide free online access to articles, it is not a true open access scheme due to its restrictions on re-use and distribution. [24] [25]

On 15 January 2015, details of a proposed merger with Springer Science+Business Media were announced. [26]

In May 2015 it came under the umbrella of Springer Nature, by the merger of Springer Science+Business Media and Holtzbrinck Publishing Group's Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, and Macmillan Education. [27] Since 2011, the journal has published Nature's 10 "people who mattered" during the year, as part of their annual review. [28] [29]

Publication in Nature

Being published in Nature is very prestigious. In particular, empirical papers are often highly cited, which can lead to promotions, grant funding, and attention from the mainstream media. Because of these positive feedback effects, competition among scientists to publish in high-level journals like Nature and its closest competitor, Science , can be very fierce. Nature's impact factor, a measure of how many citations a journal generates in other works, was 38.138 in 2015 (as measured by Thomson ISI), among the highest of any science journal.

As with most other professional scientific journals, papers undergo an initial screening by the editor, followed by peer review (in which other scientists, chosen by the editor for expertise with the subject matter but who have no connection to the research under review, will read and critique articles), before publication. In the case of Nature, they are only sent for review if it is decided that they deal with a topical subject and are sufficiently ground-breaking in that particular field. As a consequence, the majority of submitted papers are rejected without review.

According to Nature's original mission statement:

It is intended, FIRST, to place before the general public the grand results of Scientific Work and Scientific Discovery; and to urge the claims of Science to a more general recognition in Education and in Daily Life; and, SECONDLY, to aid Scientific men themselves, by giving early information of all advances made in any branch of Natural knowledge throughout the world, and by affording them an opportunity of discussing the various Scientific questions which arise from time to time. [30]

This was revised in 2000 to:

First, to serve scientists through prompt publication of significant advances in any branch of science, and to provide a forum for the reporting and discussion of news and issues concerning science. Second, to ensure that the results of science are rapidly disseminated to the public throughout the world, in a fashion that conveys their significance for knowledge, culture and daily life. [31]

Landmark papers

Many of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in modern history have been first published in Nature. The following is a selection of scientific breakthroughs published in Nature, all of which had far-reaching consequences, and the citation for the article in which they were published.

Controversies

In 2017, Nature published an editorial entitled "Removing Statues of Historical figures risks whitewashing history: Science must acknowledge mistakes as it marks its past". The article commented on the placement and maintenance of statues honouring scientists with known unethical, abusive and torturous histories. Specifically, the editorial called on examples of J. Marion Sims, the 'Father of gynecology' who experimented on African American female slaves who were unable to give informed consent, and Thomas Parran Jr. who oversaw the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. The editorial as written made the case that removing such statues, and erasing names, runs the risk of "whitewashing history", and stated "Instead of removing painful reminders, perhaps these should be supplemented". The article caused a large outcry and was quickly modified by Nature. [32] The article was largely seen as offensive, inappropriate, and by many, racist. Nature acknowledged that the article as originally written was "offensive and poorly worded" and published selected letters of response. [33] The editorial came just weeks after hundreds of white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in the Unite the Right rally to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, setting off violence in the streets and killing a young woman. When Nature posted a link to the editorial on Twitter, the thread quickly exploded with criticisms. In response, several scientists called for a boycott. [34] On 18 September 2017, the editorial was updated and edited by Philip Campbell, the editor of the journal. [35]

When Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research initially rejected by Nature and published only after Lauterbur appealed against the rejection, Nature acknowledged more of its own missteps in rejecting papers in an editorial titled, "Coping with Peer Rejection":

[T]here are unarguable faux pas in our history. These include the rejection of Cherenkov radiation, Hideki Yukawa's meson, work on photosynthesis by Johann Deisenhofer, Robert Huber and Hartmut Michel, and the initial rejection (but eventual acceptance) of Stephen Hawking's black-hole radiation. [36]

From 2000 to 2001, a series of five fraudulent papers by Jan Hendrik Schön was published in Nature. The papers, about semiconductors, were revealed to contain falsified data and other scientific fraud. In 2003, Nature retracted the papers. The Schön scandal was not limited to Nature; other prominent journals, such as Science and Physical Review , also retracted papers by Schön. [37]

In June 1988, after nearly a year of guided scrutiny from its editors, Nature published a controversial and seemingly anomalous paper detailing Jacques Benveniste and his team's work studying human basophil degranulation in the presence of extremely dilute antibody serum. [38] The paper concluded that less than a single molecule of antibody could trigger an immune response in human basophils, defying the physical law of mass action. The paper excited substantial media attention in Paris, chiefly because their research sought funding from homeopathic medicine companies. Public inquiry prompted Nature to mandate an extensive and stringent experimental replication in Benveniste's lab, through which his team's results were refuted. [39]

Before publishing one of its most famous discoveries, Watson and Crick's 1953 paper on the structure of DNA, Nature did not send the paper out for peer review. John Maddox, Nature's editor, stated: "the Watson and Crick paper was not peer-reviewed by Nature ... the paper could not have been refereed: its correctness is self-evident. No referee working in the field ... could have kept his mouth shut once he saw the structure". [40]

An earlier error occurred when Enrico Fermi submitted his breakthrough paper on the weak interaction theory of beta decay. Nature rejected the paper because it was considered too remote from reality. [41] Fermi's paper was published by Zeitschrift für Physik in 1934, [42] and finally published by Nature five years later,[ citation needed ] after Fermi's work had been widely accepted.

Science fiction

In 1999 Nature began publishing science fiction short stories. The brief "vignettes" are printed in a series called "Futures". The stories appeared in 1999 and 2000, again in 2005 and 2006, and have appeared weekly since July 2007. [43] Sister publication Nature Physics also printed stories in 2007 and 2008. [44] In 2005, Nature was awarded the European Science Fiction Society's Best Publisher award for the "Futures" series. [45] One hundred of the Nature stories between 1999 and 2006 were published as the collection Futures from Nature in 2008. [46] Another collection, Futures from Nature 2, was published in 2014. [47]

Publication

Nature Materials, a specialized journal from Nature Research. Nature Materials Nov 2008.jpg
Nature Materials, a specialized journal from Nature Research.

The journal has a weekly circulation of around 53,000 and a pass-along rate of 8.0, [48] resulting in a readership of over 400,000. [49]

Nature is edited and published in the United Kingdom by a division of the international scientific publishing company Springer Nature that publishes academic journals, magazines, online databases, and services in science and medicine. Nature has offices in London, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Munich, and Basingstoke. Nature Research also publishes other specialized journals including Nature Neuroscience , Nature Biotechnology, Nature Methods , the Nature Clinical Practice series of journals, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology , Nature Chemistry , and the Nature Reviews series of journals.

Since 2005, each issue of Nature has been accompanied by a Nature Podcast [50] featuring highlights from the issue and interviews with the articles' authors and the journalists covering the research. It is presented by Kerri Smith, and features interviews with scientists on the latest research, as well as news reports from Nature's editors and journalists. The Nature Podcast was founded – and the first 100 episodes were produced and presented – by clinician and virologist Chris Smith of Cambridge and The Naked Scientists .

In 2007, Nature Publishing Group began publishing Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, the official journal of the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics and Molecular Therapy, the American Society of Gene Therapy's official journal, as well as the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) Journal. Nature Publishing Group launched Nature Photonics in 2007 and Nature Geoscience in 2008. Nature Chemistry published its first issue in April 2009.

Nature Research actively supports the self-archiving process and in 2002 was one of the first publishers to allow authors to post their contributions on their personal websites, by requesting an exclusive licence to publish, rather than requiring authors to transfer copyright. In December 2007, Nature Publishing Group introduced the Creative Commons attribution-non-commercial-share alike unported licence for those articles in Nature journals that are publishing the primary sequence of an organism's genome for the first time. [51]

In 2008, a collection of articles from Nature was edited by John S. Partington under the title H. G. Wells in Nature, 1893–1946: A Reception Reader and published by Peter Lang. [52]

After a 2015 merger, Nature Publishing Group dissolved and was afterwards known as Nature Research.

Related Research Articles

Peter H. Duesberg is a German American molecular biologist and a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is known for his early research into genetic aspects of cancer. He played a pivotal role in the AIDS denialism controversy as a proponent of the belief that HIV does not cause AIDS.

Peer review evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work

Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competences as the producers of the work (peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer review methods are used to maintain quality standards, improve performance, and provide credibility. In academia, scholarly peer review is often used to determine an academic paper's suitability for publication. Peer review can be categorized by the type of activity and by the field or profession in which the activity occurs, e.g., medical peer review.

Scientific misconduct is the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in the publication of professional scientific research. A Lancet review on Handling of Scientific Misconduct in Scandinavian countries provides the following sample definitions:

arXiv Online digital archive for preprints of scientific papers

arXiv is an open-access repository of electronic preprints approved for posting after moderation, but not full peer review. It consists of scientific papers in the fields of mathematics, physics, astronomy, electrical engineering, computer science, quantitative biology, statistics, mathematical finance and economics, which can be accessed online. In many fields of mathematics and physics, almost all scientific papers are self-archived on the arXiv repository. Begun on August 14, 1991, arXiv.org passed the half-million-article milestone on October 3, 2008, and had hit a million by the end of 2014. By October 2016 the submission rate had grown to more than 10,000 per month.

Reproducibility is the closeness of the agreement between the results of measurements of the same measurand carried out with same methodology described in the corresponding scientific evidence. Reproducibility can also be applied under changed conditions of measurement for the same measurand—to check that the results are not an artefact of the measurement procedures.

Scientific literature comprises scholarly publications that report original empirical and theoretical work in the natural and social sciences, and within an academic field, often abbreviated as the literature. Academic publishing is the process of contributing the results of one's research into the literature, which often requires a peer-review process. Original scientific research published for the first time in scientific journals is called the primary literature. Patents and technical reports, for minor research results and engineering and design work, can also be considered primary literature. Secondary sources include review articles and books. Tertiary sources might include encyclopedias and similar works intended for broad public consumption.

Elsevier Dutch publishing and analytics company

Elsevier is a Dutch publishing and analytics company specializing in scientific, technical, and medical content. It is a part of the RELX Group, known until 2015 as Reed Elsevier. Its products include journals such as The Lancet and Cell, the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals, the Trends and Current Opinion series of journals, the online citation database Scopus, and the ClinicalKey search engine for clinicians. Elsevier's products also include digital tools for data-management, instruction, and assessment.

Water memory is the purported ability of water to retain a memory of substances previously dissolved in it even after an arbitrary number of serial dilutions. It has been claimed to be a mechanism by which homeopathic remedies work, even when they are diluted to the point that no molecule of the original substance remains.

The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometric index that reflects the yearly average number of citations that recent articles published in a given journal received. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field; journals with higher impact factors are often deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.

Jacques Benveniste was a French immunologist, born in Paris. In 1979 he published a well-known paper on the structure of platelet-activating factor and its relationship with histamine. He was head of INSERM's Unit 200, directed at immunology, allergy and inflammation.

Sir John Royden Maddox, FRS was a British theoretical chemist, turned physicist, and science writer. He was an editor of Nature for 22 years, from 1966 to 1973 and 1980 to 1995.

Citation impact quantifies the citation usage of scholarly works. It is a result of citation analysis or bibliometrics. Among the measures that have emerged from citation analysis are the citation counts for an individual article, an author, and an academic journal.

The h-index is an author-level metric that attempts to measure both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of a scientist or scholar. The index is based on the set of the scientist's most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other publications. The index can also be applied to the productivity and impact of a scholarly journal as well as a group of scientists, such as a department or university or country. The index was suggested in 2005 by Jorge E. Hirsch, a physicist at UC San Diego, as a tool for determining theoretical physicists' relative quality and is sometimes called the Hirsch index or Hirsch number. In January 2020, he strongly criticized it.

Jim Giles is a journalist and CEO of Timeline, which publishes historical stories primarily focused on the topics of race, class, and gender and how they relate to today. He also co-founded MATTER, an online publication specialising in long-form articles on science and technology.

Academic authorship of journal articles, books, and other original works is a means by which academics communicate the results of their scholarly work, establish priority for their discoveries, and build their reputation among their peers.

Philip Campbell (scientist) British astrophysicist, former editor in Chief of Nature

Sir Philip Henry Montgomery Campbell is a British astrophysicist. He served as editor-in-chief of the peer reviewed scientific journal Nature from 1995 to 2018. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the publishing company Springer Nature.

Human Frontier Science Program

The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) is a program, based in Strasbourg, France, that funds basic research in life sciences. HFSP is supported by 13 countries and the European Union. Nobutaka Hirokawa has been its President and Chair of the Board of Trustees since 2012.

Scholarly peer review is the process of subjecting an author's scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field, before a paper describing this work is published in a journal, conference proceedings or as a book. The peer review helps the publisher decide whether the work should be accepted, considered acceptable with revisions, or rejected.

<i>eLife</i> peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal

eLife is a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences. It was established at the end of 2012 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Max Planck Society, and Wellcome Trust, following a workshop held in 2010 at the Janelia Farm Research Campus. Together, these organizations provided the initial funding to support the business and publishing operations. In 2016, the organizations committed USD$26 million to continue publication of the journal.

Predatory publishing Fraudulent business model for scientific publications

Predatory publishing, sometimes called write-only publishing or deceptive publishing, is an exploitive academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without checking articles for quality and legitimacy and without providing the other editorial and publishing services that legitimate academic journals provide, whether open access or not. They are regarded as predatory because scholars are tricked into publishing with them, although some authors may be aware that the journal is poor quality or even fraudulent. New scholars from developing countries are said to be especially at risk of being misled by predatory publishers. According to one study, 60% of articles published in predatory journals receive no citations over the five-year period following publication.

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Bibliography