EDITORIAL

What you want Nature to do next

We asked readers what we should focus on in the next decade. Here is what you said.
Overhead view of a crowd of people forming the shape of an arrow

Nature readers would like us to make papers and data easier to access; help find and digest research more easily; work to improve research integrity; and publish and communicate research that addresses global challenges.Credit: Orbon Alija/Getty

Late last year, as Nature marked its 150th anniversary, we spent time reflecting on our values and how we could improve. We were keen to hear from you, our readers, so we put up a survey that asked: “What activity do you think is most important for Nature to focus on over the next decade?”

More than 500 of you responded (thank you!) and four things stood out. You would like Nature to make papers and data easier to access; help readers to find and digest research more easily; work to improve research integrity; and publish and communicate research that addresses global challenges. These responses and the many additional comments you sent will guide us as we chart a course into the new decade.

Some readers urged us to improve accessibility in its broadest sense. We should make research “easier for very curious but non specialized people to read”, wrote one. We strive to ensure that abstracts to research articles and all our news and opinion content are clear and engaging for readers from different fields and at different career stages. But it’s important to be reminded, as another reader told us, that palaeontology should be accessible to a neuroscientist and vice versa. It’s equally important, as a reader from Mexico said, that we maintain “truthfulness and impartiality in the global dissemination of science”.

We’re pleased that many readers complimented Nature’s daily Briefing, our round-up of essential reading in research news from across the world. We want to do more to help readers make sense of what can be an overwhelming volume of information about new research.

Respondents also urged us to do more to make science open by further embracing open access, open data and reproducibility — including publishing peer-reviewed work that reproduces the results of previous studies. These views are informing our direction. And quite a few readers asked why Nature covers policy and politics in science; we see this as an essential part of what we do because policy decisions affect research and researchers’ lives, and because the outcome of research affects policy decisions, too.

We’re delighted to see so many readers urge us to focus on global challenges. You’re right. Nature is committed to publishing and reporting in the areas that fall under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and 2020 will be a busy year. In October, countries that belong to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity will meet in Kunming, China, to update global goals to reduce biodiversity loss. The following month, world leaders will gather in Glasgow, UK, to agree on a new and hopefully more ambitious set of climate targets. Before that, in June, representatives of many nations will convene in Lisbon with scientists, businesses and campaign groups for the UN Oceans Conference. We’ll be covering all of these events.

You also told us in our poll that we should focus on increasing the diversity of our authors and contributors. We are redoubling our efforts here — and also reiterate our commitment from last December to having no more male-only speaker panels and organizing committees for Nature events. At the same time, we fully recognize that there is much more that we need to do.

Science, as one reader reminds us, is an essential part of humanity’s heritage. “I hope that Nature can keep improving, and make [an] effort to preserve and select important information in a way that future generations can access them easily.”

We very much agree.

Nature 577, 598 (2020)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00227-w

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