Apr 24, 2006
Writing on the CHMINF-l discussion group, Buffalo U librarian A. Ben Wagner explains how he has come to an agreement with faculty to draw a line under subscribing to new spinoff publications of the journal Nature. “no sooner had reluctantly subscribed to Nature Physics partly under the justification that at least this time they had picked a major discipline,” he says, “only to find
out in a few months they are bringing out Nature Nanotechnology and Nature Photonics within months of Nature Physics.”
Here’s the list of spinoffs Wagner cites together with first publication date (Nature Biotechnology was a new incarnation of the journal Bio/Technology)
Nature 1869, Nature Biotechnology 1983, Nature Genetics 1992, Nature Structural & Mol. Biology 1994, Nature Medicine 1995, Nature, Neuroscience 1998, Nature Cell Biology 1999, Nature Immunology 2000, Nature Reviews. Genetics 2000, Nature Reviews. Molecular Cell Biology 2000, Nature Reviews., Neuroscience 2000, Nature Reviews. Cancer 2001, Nature Reviews. Immunology 2001, Nature Materials 2002, Nature Reviews. Drug Disc. 2002, Nature Reviews. Microbiology 2003, Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine 2004, Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2004, Nature Clinical Practice Oncology 2004, Nature Clinical Practice Urology 2004, Nature Methods 2004, Nature Chemical Biology 2005, Nature Physics 2005, Nature Clinical Practice Endocrinology & Metabolism 2006, Nature Clinical Practice, Nephrology 2006, Nature Clinical Practice, Neurology 2006, Nature Clinical Practice Rheumatology 2006, Nature, Nanotechnology Oct. 2006, Nature Photonics Jan. 2007
“Even the Rocky movies only went to 5!” Wagner said. But, isn’t this just what every other academic publisher is doing, new journals seem to appear one after the other regardless of whether it’s a commercial, learned society, or open access publisher? Robert Michaelson of Northwestern U added that “Libraries and universities – especially faculty – need to stand up to “The New Elsevier”, which is displaying the avarice of the original model.” Dana Roth of Caltech also pointed out that Nature Protocols (putatively online only) is also on the horizon as is Nature Chemistry.
Michaelson also asks, “Is there really a need for Nature Physics, or Nature Nanotechnology? Certainly there isn’t a need in the scholarly community – all of the papers published in these titles could easily be published, at far less cost, in existing well-established journals.”
Presumably, Nature Publishing Group has a different spin on this and is addressing what it sees as a market need as increasingly multidisciplinary endeavour requires new outlets as the traditional boundaries between old disciplines become increasingly blurred.
That said, a follow up posting from UCR’s Chris Reed provocatively suggested that librarians and faculty should be proactive in stamping out this proliferation of journals, singling out not just NPG but citing Bentham as particularly aggressive in this area. “I have also recommended that the best way to change faculty habits is to pay them,” he said on the list, “Overpriced journals should be cancelled and some of the saved money given to Departments whose faculty agree not to submit to, referee for, accept editorial board appointments on journals they decide are too exploitive.”