As Nature Chemistry celebrates its fifth birthday, we take a look at some of the facts and figures that underpin the story of the journal so far.
Nature Chemistry was officially announced to the world on 15 August 2007 and just over 18 months later the first original research paper was published on 22 February 2009. The 60 monthly issues compiled before this one featured a total of 574 Articles (Fig. 1), along with the usual mix of other non-research content — such as Review articles, News and Views articles and Research Highlights — typically associated with Nature-branded journals.
The journal's online submission system (through which peer-reviewed content is processed) opened in July 2008 and as of 31 December 2013, we had received a total of 7,290 submissions. During this period, manuscripts were submitted from 75 different countries and a breakdown of their geographical origin is shown in Fig. 2. The top-five submitting countries (the USA, China, Japan, the UK and Germany) account for just over 60% of the total number of manuscripts received. Overall submissions have increased year-on-year — in 2009 we received, on average, 79 new manuscripts each month; the corresponding figure for 2013 was 148.
Based on manuscripts with a final accept or reject decision as of the end of 2013, the overall acceptance rate of the journal was roughly 9%.
From the launch of the journal through until the end of last year, 1,307 manuscripts were sent to referees and a further 5,495 were declined directly by the editors — so roughly one in five submissions were reviewed externally. The number of manuscripts to receive an initial editorial decision is smaller than the total number of submissions because of incomplete or duplicate submissions that did not make it as far as an editor's desk. Based on the number of manuscripts with a final accept or reject decision as of the end of 2013, the overall acceptance rate of the journal was roughly 9% up to that point. Nearly 40% of accepted papers came from the USA, although more submissions were received from the USA than any other country. The Netherlands, the UK and Switzerland have the three highest acceptance rates, and between them account for around a quarter of manuscripts accepted at Nature Chemistry.
The journal could not have accepted any of these manuscripts without the vital input of the many scientists who kindly agreed to review them. By the end of 2013, more than 2,500 individuals from 40 different countries had provided referee reports (Fig. 3). Most of those who reviewed for Nature Chemistry during this time evaluated just a single manuscript, although this may have involved looking at revised versions too. In total, there were 4,072 referee assignments made to original submissions, which averages out to 3.1 referees for each of the 1,307 manuscripts that were sent to review.
The Articles, Perspectives and Reviews that appeared in the first 60 issues of the journal have roughly 3,300 different authors. Our most prolific author has published 7 papers, closely followed by two authors who each have 6 papers and five authors each with 5. We have published 7 single-author contributions (3 research papers and 4 review-type articles) and the most authors we have had on a paper is 28. The average number of authors per paper for these article types is very close to 6 (the median is 5, the mode is 4).
Before Nature Chemistry was launched in 2009, the general-chemistry publishing landscape was dominated by the Journal of the American Chemical Society and the international edition of Angewandte Chemie. Five years on, it is perhaps appropriate to use these journals as a benchmark for comparisons (Fig. 4). When it comes to volume, Nature Chemistry publishes only a small fraction of the number of papers that appear in the other two journals. In terms of citations, a look at the data for research papers published in 2012 in each of these three journals reveals that Nature Chemistry compares favourably to the other two.
Citation counts are just one measure, however, and since Nature Chemistry first launched, article-level metrics including some based on media (both mainstream and social) attention have grown in popularity. Each article now published in Nature Chemistry has an associated metrics page that displays not only citation counts and full-text page views, but also an Altmetric score (http://www.altmetric.com/) based on the online attention it garners, whether on blogs, Twitter or news sites. At the time of writing, our paper with the highest Altmetric score is one by Balasubramanian and co-workers that was published just over a year ago (Nature Chem. 5, 182–186; 2013), and reports the visualization of G-quadruplexes in the DNA of human cells — a story that gained a lot of traction in the popular press. It is important to note, however, that a paper published in a scientific journal can attract online attention for a wide range of reasons, and the highest-scoring Altmetric papers for some journals are those that have subsequently been withdrawn or undergone major corrections.
When it was announced almost seven years ago that Nature Chemistry was to launch, there were questions about whether the community really needed another general chemistry journal. There are some who probably still wonder the same thing, but since then the Royal Society of Chemistry has launched another two general chemistry journals and the American Chemical Society recently announced a new one of their own. Between them, these two societies have launched (or announced the intention to launch) 30 new titles since 2009 — the year in which Nature Chemistry published its first paper.
Although the proliferation of journals will certainly not be welcomed by everyone, it can also be argued that it reflects the strength and diversity of chemistry research. In such a crowded marketplace, however, the journals that stand out are the ones that offer something different from the rest. In the past five years we've strived to be a little bit different and we've enjoyed doing so — and we hope you've enjoyed our first five years too.
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Take five. Nature Chem 6, 255–257 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1911