What do you think about recent papers in Nature and Science?

By Joern Fischer

I’m curious about what people think about Nature and Science, with respect to the areas of biodiversity conservation and sustainability science. This is a bit of an experiment — what do other readers of this blog think, considering you people are of course a biased sample of scientists?

Please answer the short poll below, and feel free to leave comments or extra answers. MULTIPLE ANSWERS are possible. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “What do you think about recent papers in Nature and Science?

  1. I would say that the papers in the top journals — PNAS, Nature and Science — TEND towards a limited epistemology. Most pertinently, perhaps, given the limited space, it seems like anthropological and historical perspectives are at a disadvantage. While there’s much to recommend explaining a complex story pithily, if the complexities are more “narrative” than quantitative much might get lost in the translation, or more likely, the paper never sent to these journals at all (e.g. qualitatively summarizing socially complicated case studies rather than showing, say, some means, medians, linear trends, PCA, etc.).

    Inevitably there’s a “technical fix” and “top-down” bias as well, as it’s easier to publish a “discovery” rather than a summary of existing sociopolitical states and challenges, yet applied science would do well to think long and hard on how policy change actually happens. I suppose it would be fine if there were a popular venue for high-quality sociopolitical analyses read by natural scientists concerned with such things (e.g. conservationists), but I don’t think there is. Or perhaps I’m projecting or simply incorrect?

    • Hi Jahi — I think this is actually very interesting. You are of course saying what we all know, but you actually managed to put it into words somehow. Perhaps one could even say that these journals are in themselves a positive feedback for certain epistemologies over others; that, in turn, implies that unless those epistemologies hold all answers to the world’s problems, we are in a feedback loop that will never allow us to broaden our understanding. Frankly, I wonder if one should try to write a commentary about this phenomenon, based on a literature analysis of some sort — for a major journal? Hmm.

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