Warning about Nature Magazine :
From the dust jacket of the excellent book Embargoed Science, by Vincent Kiernan:
|The "embargo's" impact on public knowledge about important science and
The popular notion of a lone scientist privately toiling long hours in a laboratory, striking upon a great discovery, and announcing it to the world is a romanticized fiction. Vincent Kiernan's Embargoed Science reveals the true process behind science news: an elite few scholarly journals control press coverage through a mechanism known as an embargo. The journals distribute advance copies of their articles to hundreds and sometimes thousands of journalists around the world, on the condition that journalists agree not to report their stories until a common time, several days later. When the embargo lifts, airwaves and newspaper pages are flooded with stories based on the journal's latest issue.
In addition to divulging the realities behind this collusive practice, Kiernan offers an unprecedented exploration of the embargo's impact on public knowledge of science and medical issues. He surveys twenty five daily U.S. newspapers and relates his in-depth interviews with reporters to examine the inner workings of the embargo and how it structures our understanding of news about science. Kiernan ultimately argues that this system fosters "pack journalism" and creates an unhealthy shield against journalistic competition. The result is the uncritical reporting of science and medical news according to the dictates of a few key sources.
Vincent Kiernan is a senior writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Nature magazine has such an embargo policy. It devotes tremendous energy to marketing the research articles that appear in its pages. They treat the release day of each research article they publish as a premiere news event, the unveiling of a revolutionary new discovery or product. Very often they end up promoting research that is mediocre or even atrocious. My experience is that people who choose to publish in Nature magazine rather than in a more low key research journal (or just in www.arXiv.org) are usually publicity seekers trying to get under the limelight without having earned it. In a healthy scientific environment, the limelight should shine on a research paper only a long time after its release date, if the paper proves itself by serving as the starting point for many other subsequent papers.