Multidisciplinarity: Widen discipline span of Nature papers

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Our informal analysis indicates that the biological sciences have dominated Nature's research content for more than 50 years. In an age that calls for greater multidisciplinarity, we suggest that the journal should include a broader range of high-impact papers from fields such as mathematics, chemistry and applied science.

We searched Clarivate Analytics' Web of Science database for Nature papers published in several different research fields during 1963–64, 2003–04 and 2013–14. We estimate that biological sciences account for 53% of Nature's content, averaged over all three periods (55%, 48% and 56%, respectively). By contrast, mathematics contributed 5%, chemistry 11% and applied sciences 10%, on average (details available from authors on request). These numbers are necessarily approximate because, for example, a paper may fall into more than one research category and definitions of applied science can be subjective.

Over the period we analysed, molecular biology and the biomedical sciences have seen vast progress. Together with the high number of citations those fields collect, this could explain the journal's seeming preference for articles in these areas. However, relatively few articles contribute to a journal's high impact factor (see V. Larivière et al. Preprint at bioRxiv; 2016). We therefore recommend sacrificing some candidate life-sciences papers for contributions with high citation potential from underrepresented areas.

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  1. University of São Paulo, Brazil.

    • Gabriel José de Carli &
    • Tiago Campos Pereira

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