Would Nature, Science or other leading academic journals prioritize publishing work on COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has caused more than 3k deaths so far? If so, has this happened before in the past, during another crisis?

  • 3
    Journals publish stuff interesting to their readers. This question seems...not well thought out and maybe has some objective that is not spoken.
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 10, 2020 at 4:00
  • This is easily answered by checking to see what they have published. COVID-19 is present in their news articles, but not in the most recent research articles. Thus far, the answer is no. Maybe it will be yes soon. Mar 10, 2020 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


Absolutely. Journals are ways of disseminating scientific information, and they do take into account what is of current interest.

More specifically, however: Both Science and Nature do not just publish scientific articles, but also commentary and news stories. For example, in Science they are in the "News" and "Perspectives" parts of the magazine, and they definitely cover current events. As, if I may add, they should.

  • I'd add the following, to your terse but imho correct answer: Starting some time ago, a lot of grant money and resources, national, federal and even private - has been funneled into studies regarding covid-19. From the exploratory perspective (genome mapping, etc), from the pathophysiological perspective (treatment efficacies, mortality) and I would be very surprised if not antivirals targeting coronaviruses also gets a boost with FDA clearance and money these days. So, more research is going to be produced, and thus more papers will likely be reported in nature and science going forward...
    – Stian
    Mar 10, 2020 at 13:36
  • In short; even if they are not prioritizing per se, then it will appear as if they are
    – Stian
    Mar 10, 2020 at 13:36
  • Well, that's true. But they're also working very hard on turn-around times for papers. I mean, a typical publication takes 6-12 months from the time of submission to publication. But there's clearly a need to disseminate new information about COVID-19 more rapidly, and so these publications are prioritized over, say, a study of the extent of boreal forests during the Cretaceous period. Mar 10, 2020 at 16:20
  • It is, however, a mistake to short circuit good review. It is how bad information can supplant good information.
    – Buffy
    Mar 10, 2020 at 16:56
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    @Buffy: Sure, but do you have any evidence that that is happening? Reviewers, too, recognize the importance of all of this, and may actually be very interested in reading new papers in a timely manner because it pertains to their work. Mar 11, 2020 at 14:52

When your question bears the underlying motive/question, if it easier to publish in nature and science in the next years by doing research on this topic, then my answer would be no. There will likely be an over-proportional amount of COVID-19 related papers be published in top-tier magazines, but at the same time an enormous amount of additional funding money will flow into biomedical research institutes and create competition to solve this problem in a kind of competition, while many biometdical researchers and drug developers have already stated that the development of a remedy against COVID-19 will take 1-2 years. As Buffy commented above and I conclude, the review likely becomes and should much more rigorous for COVID-19 related papers. Additionally the submission rate and competition to get into review will rise.

I'm aware of several retractions in nature magazine covering biomedical breakthroughs over the past years. Many retractions related to COVID-19 would not be very advertising for a journal within a reproduction crisis within academia.

I also want to mention that really important and technical papers are not only published in top-tier journals like nature and science, often the authors also choose intentionally a journal within the community to fasten the progress and reach the biggest possible dissemination. In case of COVID-19 a journal most of the researchers within a community have access to and which offers a format allowing the authors to transport the content they think is necessary to disseminate in the fastest and most completest way with short review time (which is often much longer among nature and science) to the community is probably a much better choice to save human lives.

It's a delicate question when the research question affects million of lives within a short time period, what ethically the right publishing and reviewing behaviour should be amoung authors and journals. There are of course preprints for nature and science, but do nature and science really have the best specialists, reviewers and review system for solving a very specific scientific problem within short time or rather journals that cover since decades virus deseases? I'm at least wondering if COVID-19 will also create new ways of publishing/commenting of researchers worldwide within short-time on a very high quality level and with open-source access.

So I'm skeptical about @Wolfgang Bangerth's answer if Nature and Science should prioritize COVID-19 papers without changing their review system/duration and if both magazines are the best place to publish such papers concerning the importance of a fast progress in R&D. This depends really a lot upon how biomedical researchers share information in the fastest way via specific journals with short but rigorous review while retaining a high reproduction rate of the results.

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    -1 because it assumes the author has an ulterior motive in asking the question. It's something I found quite aggravating when others did it in my question, and I expect OP to feel the same way.
    – Allure
    Mar 14, 2020 at 3:21
  • @Allure I replaced ulterior by underlying, I'm no native speaker and ulterior was suggested to me for "behind the concept/question" which in German has no negative meaning. Though I assume like Bryan Krause's comment above the question has some apparent motive, otherwise it's vague and is better closed and phrased another way, as I tried to point out in my answer that there are actually important things to consider to publish in science & nature concerning COVID-19 or not Mar 14, 2020 at 12:11
  • Same thing unfortunately - answer the question that's asked, not the question that you think is asked. I don't approve of Bryan Krause's comment, either.
    – Allure
    Mar 14, 2020 at 12:34

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