The Sassy Scientist – Natural Trainwrecks

The Sassy Scientist – Natural Trainwrecks

We all somewhat agree that publishing in Nature is a recognition of the value of our research and of the usefulness of our academic career. It does not matter that “our” research topic was bestowed upon us by our supervisor. And it certainly matters not, that we want to leave academia next year. At least we’ll leave with a bang! We all want to publish on the almost-holy pages of Nature, but it is not clear to everybody how to get this legendary badge of honor. Indeed, Giovanni scratches his head and asks:

How do you get a Nature paper?

Dear Giovanni,

Most of us have been imprinted with the idea that Nature papers only contain ground-breaking, multi-disciplinary research written in a terse, condensed-yet-crystal-clear way.

This is how it should be. It most certainly isn’t the way it is.

Think about it: out of all the Nature papers you read, which ones were actually well-deserved Nature publications? I can answer that for you: at most a couple out of the last 5 years of publications.

So, what does it take to write and publish one of these trainwrecks? New science? Nope. Just use a different dataset to obtain the very same answer everybody else already got and call it a day. Also don’t bother about being clear in explaining or benchmarking your methodology. That’s what the actual paper, published as a companion article in GJI, is for.

One thing you really need in your Nature paper is a “word-salad”. I am talking about the last couple paragraphs, where you sort-of, kind-of get the vague feeling that the authors are trying to write a Discussion section, but by the end of it you still cannot understand where this is going. You know…those paragraphs where every geoscience problem is linked to the flimsy, unsupported conclusions of the paper you are reading. That’s the “word-salad”.

But, really, the only thing that matters is the research topic you write about. You see, before even getting to peer-review you first need to convince an editor that your paper is interesting. And possibly controversial. And, obviously, the only important topic out there is whatever-the-heck the editor assigned to you is an expert on. So find out what who the editors are.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It may take a couple of hit-or-miss attempts to be assigned to the right editor, but eventually you’ll get your Nature paper.

And remember: sloppy, not novel, better if controversial, “word-salad” at the end.

Congratulations on your first Nature paper. You can get your Mai-Tai now.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was about the main Nature journal. The specialised ones (such as Nature Geoscience) are marginally better. Sometimes. Maybe. By chance.

PPS: Also, you need 10.000 USD (Ten. Thousands!!!!) to publish open-access on Nature.

PPPS: Seriously. Why would you want to publish on this dumpster-fire of a journal??

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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