As January is approaching its conclusion, 2021 seems already far away and the eyes are set on the challenges of the year ahead. And yet, as Nature Catalysis celebrates its fourth birthday, we would like to recall some of the accomplishments from recent months.

The December issue of 2021 has closed our fourth volume — which contains 93 primary research articles, 3 Comments, 3 Reviews and 4 Perspectives — and trends in line with past years in terms of content volume. The share of manuscripts in the cohorts of electrocatalysis and biocatalysis has remained consistent with 2020, with ~21% and 19% of the overall volume, respectively. We have observed, however, a relative increase in the content of articles in the field of heterogeneous catalysis, which reached a 29% share against the ~16% of last year, while homogeneous and photocatalysis contributed 23% and 8% of publications, respectively. As usual, trying to classify the diverse production of our authors into traditional categories requires a certain level of approximation and does not make justice to those multidisciplinary contributions that are clearly at the frontiers between different subcategories — one can think for instance of reports in the field of photoredox catalysis or bioelectrocatalysis.

For those interested in additional insight or those that would like to dig deeper into the specifics of the topics covered in our pages, the pictured word cloud reports the most common words contained in our 2021 article titles — we limited the list to words found at least three times, excluded adjectives and adverbs, and plural/singular forms of the same word were considered as the same entry.

One of the words that stands out besides the more obvious ones related to catalysis — for example, catalyst or catalytic — is certainly CO2. This reflects the high level of commitment of the catalysis community to develop solutions for the valorization of this simple C1 chemical that plays a major role in the context of anthropogenic climate change. To honour this commitment, one of the highlights from the editorial office last year was the Focus issue on CO2 conversion, which featured content dedicated to both fundamental and practical aspects of technologies that may contribute to carbon neutrality. The Focus was published in November, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, and shows our continued efforts to support the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

the pictured word cloud reports the most common words contained in our 2021 article titles — we limited the list to words found at least three times, excluded adjectives and adverbs, and plural/singular forms of the same word were considered as the same entry

In general, 2021 was also quite a busy year for the introduction of content types that were new to our journal. In September, for instance, we published our first retro News & Views articles. These short contributions follow the style of our conventional News & Views articles; however, they focus on older literature and offer an opportunity to concisely revisit important developments in the field. Interestingly, metrics like the number of accesses or the Altmetric scores of these articles compare favourably with those of regular News & Views articles published in the same period, and suggest a certain level of interest in the historic development of contemporary fields of catalysis.

Last year we also introduced our first Research Briefings, a format that was initially trialled at Nature and is designed to distil the message from a primary research article and make it more accessible to a wider and non-specialized audience. Research Briefings are linked to their corresponding research paper and feature a short summary of the work, prepared by the authors of the original article, which briefly conveys the problem, the solution and the implications of the study. Briefings also include the opinion of an external expert and a comment from a member of the Nature Catalysis editorial team. Research Briefings are handled by a dedicated Research Briefings team in close collaboration with the editors of Nature Catalysis.

Recent months have also seen the publications of our first Q&A articles, which incidentally focused on the experience of scientists working at the practical implementation of catalytic processes related to the sustainable production of chemicals from CO2. This format is quite versatile and represents a unique opportunity for the editorial office to have informal discussions with members of the catalysis community from all walks of life. Q&As are particularly valuable for allowing us to highlight aspects surrounding catalysis science that would otherwise not find space in a traditional scientific publication.

These are only a few examples of the exciting contributions that this journal had the pleasure of receiving in the past months; inevitably, we won´t be able to mention them all and instead we would like to say a big thank you to all our authors and reviewers, who have made that possible. We wish them and all our readers a great 2022 ahead.