Correspondence | Published:


Hail local fieldwork, not just global models

Nature volume 534, page 326 (16 June 2016) | Download Citation

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.

Author information


  1. Trent University, Peterborough, Canada.

    • Catarina Ferreira
  2. BioCórima, Arteaga, Mexico.

    • C. Antonio Ríos-Saldaña
  3. Institute for Advanced Social Studies (IESA-CSIC), Córdoba, Spain.

    • Miguel Delibes-Mateos


  1. Search for Catarina Ferreira in:

  2. Search for C. Antonio Ríos-Saldaña in:

  3. Search for Miguel Delibes-Mateos in:

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Catarina Ferreira.

About this article

Publication history




By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing