A few days ago an editor from Nature came to our institute to give a talk. The main points of his talk were: 1) Nature is an awesome journal with a long tradition, 2) Nature does not want papers within the borders of what we already know, 3) they may consider papers within a list of categories he explained and gave examples, 4) we all should submit to Nature, 5) if a paper does not get accepted there, do not worry, the paper can be transfered to Nature Communications or Scientific Reports without much hassle.
Two things irritated me about this talk. One is the power by which one single person can influence what scientific direction a field may take. I do not care about what type of papers Nature wants, but other scientists may. Given the strong competition for jobs in the academic market, a paper in Nature may make the difference in a person’s career. If a Nature editor comes and tells you what type of paper they want, you may take the bait. A scientific field therefore, may move in a specific direction predisposed by the interest of a single editor.
The second thing that annoyed me was the supposedly benevolence in the argument: submit to Nature, and do not worry if it gets rejected, Nature Communications and Scientific Reports will be happy to publish it. This has nothing to do with scholarship and good intentions. This is the greed of a multi-million dollar business that takes away public money intended for science and education, and puts it in the pockets of two single investors. As I showed in a previos post, these two journals are collecting more than 50 million dollars annually in publication fees. A disproportionate amount of money for the service these journals provide.
In 2017, Springer-Nature had a total revenue of € 1.6 billion. This is within the range of the gross domestic product of a small country. A journal owned by a scientific society can reinvest this money in science and education. Springer-Nature instead, feeds the coffers of its two owners: Holtzbrinck and BC Partners.
Nature makes a disservice to our profession by promoting an elite with the only purpose of maximizing economic profit. Unfortunately, many scientists do not seem to realize this.