Last week, Philip Campbell stepped down as the editor-in-chief of Nature after 22 years, and he passed the baton to me.
It is with great honour and sense of responsibility that I take on this unique role, as only the eighth editor-in-chief in Nature’s history. I am excited by the prospect of serving the scientific community from this new perspective, bringing to it my own varied editorial experience.
Phil began his parting words in last week’s issue by restating that Nature’s editorial role has been consistently about support for outstanding science. True to our mission, we continue to enable dissemination of science. It has always been at the very heart of everything we do to facilitate communication of outstanding discoveries that are important and relevant to society and the world, as well as to the scientific community itself.
We will continue to widen our horizons at Nature, to be the venue for not only the established, but also emerging fields and discoveries that defy traditional discipline boundaries. There will always be room for the publication and coverage of fundamental discoveries and cutting-edge applications alike. And through our primary research papers, news and analyses, we will continue to further the societal impact of science.
Tomorrow’s discoveries will be made by today’s early-career researchers. I believe we at Nature have an important part to play in their mentorship. We hope to engage them more fully in the dissemination and vetting of the scientific record — for example, by promoting peer-review mentorship. We also hope to be guided by them, so that we can meet their needs when it comes to publishing their work, as research becomes more data-rich and computationally heavy.
In the past, Nature has adapted to accommodate the evolving nature of discoveries. In future, I will be keen to explore ways in which our formats can adapt further as research requirements continue to evolve.
The journal will continue to work with research communities to enhance reproducibility and transparency in science. As researchers aim for more transparency in how they both design studies and generate and analyse data, I hope we will make our own processes increasingly transparent, with the aim of demystifying the way we work.
Much has already been made of my being the first female editor-in-chief of Nature. Although this may well have been overdue, it is a reflection of greater diversity in the research community, and not just in terms of gender. With human diversity comes diversity of priorities, views and interests, all of which deserve equal prominence. We will continue to strive towards equal representation of all groups among our authors, reviewers and staff. Diversity of collaborators will enhance diversity in our coverage of topics. We know we have some way to go — for example, to increase the number of female reviewers — and we will continue to make it our priority.
The fact that I am one of only two life scientists to hold the title of editor-in-chief of this journal has attracted less attention. My background undoubtedly means that I bring a particular perspective on the sciences, although my focus will remain broad. To my eyes as a geneticist, the most influential work published in Nature’s pages under the watch of my predecessor — a physicist — must surely be the reporting of the human genome sequence. Under my watch, I look forward to publishing equally influential findings quite removed from my own area of research expertise.
The role of editor-in-chief is not unlike that of an orchestra’s conductor. Behind every piece of journalism and every paper there are dedicated and talented professionals; experts who know how to play their part. I very much look forward to enhancing this well-honed performance, not just at Nature magazine itself but also in the broader family of Nature Research journals.
Nature is your journal. Without the scientific community, we have no authors, no reviewers and no readers. I look forward to learning from you all, so that I and Nature may serve you better.