A month ago I successfully defended my PhD in computational fluid mechanics (yay!). As a present, my parents want to give me a subscription to a science magazine of my choice. I'm an avid reader, so I very much appreciate the gift, but I am not sure about what magazine I should choose. I used to subscribe to a local pop-sci magazine in the past, but as I progressed from high-school student to PhD student I found it to be very lacking (no proper references to the "recent science", generally poor/clickbaity reporting, History Channel-like focus).

What general-coverage science magazines are appropriate for the working scientist?

From some googling around, Scientific American is currently at the top of my list. What I would like is:

  • Something printed on dead trees, monthly (or even less frequent) issues.
  • Balanced reporting, not breathless praise for the latest hype that will solve all problems, not simple reprints of university PR office stuff.
  • Broad coverage, at least all of STEM, a bit of medicine and social science stuff is also interesting.
  • Reporting that doesn't shy away from technical/advanced topics, and which assumes the reader is intelligent enough to learn something.
  • Proper references to the actual studies mentioned, and preferrably also conflicting viewpoints highlighted.

A few examples of science reporting that I like include APS's "Physics" magazine (online only, narrow coverage), Derek Lowe's blog "In the pipeline" over at Science Translational Medicine (same "cons" as above), Scott Aaronson's blog, the "Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics" blog (if you'll pardon my French). I also subscribe to Foreign Policy, and generally like their reporting.

  • 1
    If the physical prints are a soft requirement, you may consider going for a digital subscription. Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 10:36
  • 3
    No, physical prints is a hard requirement for me. I know from experience that I never get around to reading digital subscriptions, and holding and reading from paper is very nice. Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 10:41
  • @ff524 I see where you're coming from with the "shopping question" label, but I personally think it's still a hood question. Do you think this question can be improved to fit the scope better? Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 19:35
  • I'm not sure how. Maybe ask on Academia Meta?
    – ff524
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


"Science" from AAAS. If you're a student/post-doc, $95. Otherwise, $160 (for personal subscription). Strong medicine component.

Nature, $119 for student/post-doc, $199 otherwise. Significant discount for a 2-year subscription.

  • I've looked at both, and there are two major cons AFAICT: they're weekly issues, meaning I'll never be able to keep up, and they're (to some extent) primary research papers which remain fairly technical, so for things outside of my own research I won't be able to tell what it means and how it connects with other research. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 19:52

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