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Oftentimes, researchers talk about a paper that's been published "in Nature" (typically to establish its notoriety). However, I would like to clarify exactly what this means.

Along with Nature, the Nature Publishing Group publishes a wide range of journals, including journals with the word "Nature" in the title, such as Nature Biotechnology, Nature Cell Biology, and so on. Other journals published by Nature Publishing Group do not include the word "Nature" in the title, such as Heredity, Molecular Systems Biology, and so on. (See the journal index.) With this in mind, it does not seem clear to me exactly what it means to have published "in Nature".

Question: When someone says they've published "in Nature", does this literally mean they have published in the journal entitled Nature?

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    listen carefully - do they say in Nature, or by Nature? The latter being a clue that what they're really saying is: 'by Nature Publishing Group, but not in the journal "Nature"'
    – 410 gone
    Aug 13, 2012 at 19:51
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    I have never heard of someone referring to one of the Nature sub-journals as just "Nature". I think most people would consider this dishonest.
    – Bitwise
    Aug 26, 2013 at 18:36

3 Answers 3

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The answer to your question is probably "Yes and No" or, more properly, it depends on who is telling you this and why.

If the individual wants you to find his or her research, then "in Nature" might mean in Nature. However, if someone wants you to find research, why aren't they giving you a full citation?

Usually someone would say their work is published "in Nature" to make themselves sound important (sometimes rightfully so). In this case, I doubt that the individual would make a distinction between Nature and the derivative journals, most of which also have high impact factors. The person is more likely to be vague if the field-specific NPG journal in which the work is published has a much lower impact factor than Nature.

In the field of chemistry, Nature Chemistry is relatively new, 4 years old. Since NChem is so new, most folks I talk to distinguish whether they mean Nature or NChem. NChem's newness leaves it with a lower impact factor (20.524 for 2011, the first year it qualified for one) vs. Nature (36.280 in 2011).

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    I found this Q&A linked from another and wanted to comment that the second part of this answer in my experience is very wrong. "In Nature" is not a synonym for "in a Nature/npg journal" and if you use the former to mean the latter you will probably embarrass yourself. It would be like claiming you are a World Cup champion when you really mean you collect cups from all over the world.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 16, 2019 at 18:43
  • Good question - I was wondering about this the other day, when reading a mainstream news article. I just searched today's news for "published in Nature" with Google and find 35 uses. Without exception, an NPG journal work that wasn't in their one journal named Nature is never referred to as in Nature in any of them. Media included Phys.org, globenewswire, Science Daily, healio(made difficult: no citation and Nature article was a month old- Boo, Healio!!), medicalxpress, eurekalert,... MIT Technology Review Podcast. PS: Jul 16, 2020 at 19:33
  • ... So I agree with Krause and I intend to edit accordingly. (PS: It would be nice if there was a blocklist of 4th rate news sources that just re-report stuff without adding anything of value (except ads-that benefit them). I'm guessing some of the Media I visited/listed was that.). I'm thinking it should say that using "in Nature" to refer to something in a Nature journal, but not in the journal Nature, is both incorrect and misleading. It seems abnormal to use the term differently. Jul 16, 2020 at 19:54
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I've never heard a neuroscientist say they published in Nature, if it was in Nature Neuroscience.

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This Nature guide to authors uses the phrase "Nature and the Nature research journals." Also, the editorial policies website states

The Nature journals' editorial policies concerning publication of primary scientific research can be found on the pages listed below. The policies described are those of Nature and the journals with "Nature" in their titles.

This implies that when the Nature Publishing Group uses the word "Nature" in italics, they are referring to the journal Nature and not to their other journals. If they want to refer to any of their journals, they use the phrase "Nature journal" (without italics).

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