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Naturalists

Hail local fieldwork, not just global models

We contend that science's 'publish-or-perish' culture, which selects for rapid publication in high-ranking journals, has contributed to the demise of field-based studies (see K.-D. Dijkstra Nature 533, 172–174; 2016).

Top-tier journals tend to favour large-scale analyses that answer big, general questions (see J. M. Fitzsimmons and J. H. Skevington Nature 466, 179; 2010), presumably because they help to boost journal impact factors. Unlike basic ecological and observational studies, such analyses seldom involve the collection of new, local field data. Instead, they depend mainly on modelling of published information, often over scales that would be logistically and economically challenging for conventional field investigations.

Because publication in leading journals is science's currency to capture funding, funders also tend to select against field-based research studies — including those with undeniable reach and importance, such as long-term biodiversity monitoring (see T. Birkhead Nature 514, 405; 2014).

Given the current biodiversity crisis, journals and funding agencies — as well as the scientific community — must act to reverse this trend.

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Correspondence to Catarina Ferreira.

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Ferreira, C., Ríos-Saldaña, C. & Delibes-Mateos, M. Hail local fieldwork, not just global models. Nature 534, 326 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/534326b

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