Another Example of “The Nature Effect”

Andy Revkin, on his blog and in the newspaper, has another case study of the distorting effect of Nature and suchlike A-list scientific publications.

Let’s say our study suggests climate change is driving some rare and charismatic toad to extinction. We’re in Nature! Journalists will write about us in the New York Times etc. The story has legs.

Let’s say we think it’s something else, not climate, that’s responsible. Our paper is not in Nature, because it’s too pedestrian.

To the extent that Nature and Science go for the sexy story line in their choice of papers, and in addition to the extent that journalists (myself included) allow Nature and Science to set our agenda, the public is fundamentally misled.


  1. It’s funny – I never even bothered to read Science or Nature until I started teaching a course that included climate. My subdiscipline isn’t sexy enough; the closest things to my research interest in either publication tend to be about earthquakes (or something related to them).

    I was shocked to hear that people (like college administrators) rated Science and Nature so much more highly than other journals. Their topics seemed limited to me.

  2. If I, fairly well educated layman that I am, want to subscribe to a publication in order to keep up with what’s going on in science (perhaps earth sciences, climate, geology, meteorology …) which one, if not Nature or Science or NS, is it to be?

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