Why are there so many Nature titles?

 Some of the many Nature titles UIC Library subscribes to. Image Created L. Rochester 1/17/2018

Some of the many Nature titles UIC Library subscribes to. Image Created L. Rochester 1/17/2018

Just how many Nature-branded journals are there? 28, I think. First there was Nature published in 1869. Then came Nature Biotechnology in 1983 and Nature Genetics in 1992.  2005 saw the biggest one-year increase with 6 new journals.  There were 5 new titles in 2017. Coming in 2019 are two new Nature journals: Nature Machine Intelligence and Nature Metabolism. Also part of the Nature family are the Nature Reviews titles that started in 2000 with Nature Reviews Genetics. There are currently 17 Nature Reviews journals including Nature Reviews Physics that launches in 2019. The full list of journals published under the Nature masthead is over 150 and includes Scientific American and Nature Partner Journals.

Why are there so many Nature titles? According to the publisher of all Nature titles, Springer, there is a huge demand for scientific publishing. Nature only accepts a small percent of submitted articles and more journals means more published research. The editors of Nature write that new journals are “responding to positive signals from their target research communities”.

Academic administrators involved in managing the cost of journal subscriptions disagree.  Though the new titles are online only, they still represent a significant cost increase. Each new journal means additional access fess. If Springer is dedicated to meeting the increasing demand for published science, why don’t they publish more articles in already existing journals instead of creating new ones?  It makes sense that a for profit organization would follow the path towards increased revenue.The only problem is that their main customers- academic libraries- can’t keep up. Journal subscription fees increase steadily, even without new fees for new titles and shrinking budgets that are the current reality for most public institutions.

Nature and Nature branded titles are very important to the scientific community. The journals have high impact factors and the articles are widely read. Publishing in Nature comes with prestige and can be an important career step for a new researcher. Universities, research institutions and funding bodies highly favor prestigious publications such as Nature.

What Nature titles does UIC subscribe to? The UIC Library has a subscription package that includes almost 40 Nature and Nature Reviews titles. See a full list here. Nature and Nature Communications are the most highly read journals of the series at UIC according to library statistics. In 2017, Nature Medicine and Nature Microbiology were the next highest read. Nature Reviews Cancer and Nature Reviews Drug Discovery were the two highest read in the review series. We don’t subscribe to the full list because we don’t have the funds to do so. UIC students and faculty can access all articles across all Nature titles by using Interlibrary Loan.  Using interlibrary loan is the best way to show how much a new subscription is needed.  Interlibrary loan tracks how many articles from which journals are requested each year. Having high usage is the best argument for increased funds.    

Unless you have your own subscription, you must login with your NetID and password first on the library home page to read articles from any of the Nature titles. There is a lot of Nature content available online for free such as: editorials, news, letters, job postings, and research highlights. The journal Nature Communications, which publishes original research in many areas of science, is Open Access, meaning all of the content is available online for free.

If you want to see if the UIC Library has a specific Nature title or any other journal, use the Journal Title search to look it up. If you are planning to publish your research soon and want to find which Nature title is the best fit for your research, there are scope and aim notes available on the publisher’s website. To read more about the history of of scientific publishing and the Nature family of titles check out the ebook Making Nature: The History of a Scientific Journal by Melinda Baldwin.  

Please email me (clantz@uic.edu) if you have any questions about UIC’s Nature subscription or accessing articles online.  I would also love to hear from you if you have a recommendation for a journal we don’t currently subscribe to!

Cathy LantzComment