The point of science and nature magazines

  • #1
I've really never understood it. What's the logic behind having a journal/magazine having expert articles across all fields of science? Any person from a given field is only going to benefit from like 1 maybe 2 articles an issue and be completely clueless for all the other articles. How did they become so prestigious?
 

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  • #2
Simon Bridge
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The logic is that the magazine companies want to make money.
The point is that people buy them.
... this should tell you there is a flaw in your assumptions ;)

But hey, speak for yourself! I benefit from reading about what people in other disciplines are doing.
 
  • #3
Danger
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Cross-discipline learning is always a good thing. For a physicist who specializes in something like dark matter research, a side-trip into a new branch of anthropology might be as refreshing as a vacation. It's a great way to learn something about something that you don't normally study.
In my case, National Geographic gave me my monthly tit-fix until I turned 15 and the local vendor decided that I was old enough to buy Playboy.
 
  • #4
Pythagorean
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I agree with Danger. Not everyone is a technocrat.
 
  • #5
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The articles in Science and Nature are supposed to be about the most important research at the time. Someone working on sub-field of science X can read specialized journal in that sub-field but will probably read Science/Nature for the most important research in science X.
 
  • #6
Simon Bridge
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Most people I know make a distinction between "magazine" and "journal" so that New Scientist is a magazine, and Nature is a journal. Still, I figure OP is talking about journals.

This answers the last part: how do they get to be so prestigious?
i.e. they are selective about what they publish and gain a rep for being hard to please.
As a result, if it is in (say) Nature it is probably worth reading.

(Note: if you want a paper in Nature, it is a good idea to adjust your writing style to a wider audience too.
So the articles in a multi-discipline journal tend to be more accessible to researchers in other fields.)

It is also very dangerous for a researcher to read exclusively inside their own field - the more isolated you get the weirder your thought processes. You see it strongly in research which is also top secret which is why the pentagon generally lets their scientists publish these days.

Exposure to different disciplines helps get your thinking back on track.
Danger's "holiday" effect.
 
  • #7
lisab
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the more isolated you get the weirder your thought processes
THAT is an excellent principle :smile:!
 
  • #8
So, to substantiate all of your guys' claims do any of you actually READ Science or Nature articles outside your field? It's not about being "open minded", Science and Nature articles are simply too specialized from non-specialists. It's not like a physicists can pick up an issue of Nature and read an article on bio. They may be written for a wider audience within the field but they're still highly technical papers. It's not like physics today or something. So do any of you actually read out of field articles in these journals/magazine?
 
  • #9
Simon Bridge
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Yes I do and so do lots I know.
You don't have to be able to get every single nuance to parse the salient points.

I have read bio papers, and if it looks important I know where to get help on the difficult bits. Physics and bio overlap btw. Sure some will be impenitrable but there are enough I can work through to keep me interested. OTOH: I wouldn't actually pay for a subscription.
 
  • #10
Curious3141
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In my case, National Geographic gave me my monthly tit-fix until I turned 15
Yes, all those nubile tribal girls. Very nice. :rofl:
 
  • #11
f95toli
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So, to substantiate all of your guys' claims do any of you actually READ Science or Nature articles outside your field? It's not about being "open minded", Science and Nature articles are simply too specialized from non-specialists.
Yes I do, not very often but I certainly read physics (including astronomy) and occasionally chemistry articles. And yes, the articles are specialized but less so that in other journals.
Also, both journals have good editors, illustrators etc.. meaning the articles are usually a bit more "professional" that in most other journals, which also makes them a bit easier to read.
Finally, both journals have very stringent referee processes, so if something is published one can be sure that it has been checked quite carefully.
 
  • #12
Curious3141
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And yes, the articles are specialized but less so that in other journals.
Yes, good point that can easily be seen by comparing a typical table of contents page for Nature, Science and Cell. The last is intended mainly for biological researchers specialised in cell biology, with a comparable impact factor to the other two journals.

Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v481/n7380/

Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/current

Cell: http://www.cell.com/current

Also, one must remember that Nature also has more specialised journals like Nature Medicine, Nature Reviews Cancer and Nature Cell Biology. Specialists read these.
 

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