This is the second of three guest blogs we’re featuring from the chief editors of three newly-launched journals: Communications Biology, Communications Chemistry and Communications Physics. (Read the announcement from Nature Research here).
This post comes from Brooke LaFlamme, the Chief Editor of Communications Biology. Brooke was previously a Senior Editor at Nature Genetics, and holds a PhD in Genetics from Cornell University.
What label do you put on your own research? Is it biology, physics, chemistry? Or something more specific, like genetics or evolutionary biology?
For many research papers, it can be difficult to choose only one key subject area. As research becomes increasingly collaborative and complex, it often bridges multiple areas, such as cell biology, genetics, physiology and medicine, all within a single study.
Even for research that may be of interest mainly to specialists, it can be difficult to define a single group of specialists—your readers—who will find the results useful for their own research. This can complicate the process of finding the right journal for your work. Journals with a broad scope—such as Nature Communications and now Communications Biology from Nature Research—can be an excellent choice for research that blurs the lines between sub-disciplines.
Calling all biologists
Communications Biology is a forum for research in any area of biology, regardless of sub-discipline.
Of particular importance to me as Chief Editor, I hope that Communications Biology will become a home for research that doesn’t fall neatly into a specific category or specialist journal. As a graduate student, I often found it difficult to identify the right label for my own research. This would happen, for example, when trying to choose from a drop-down menu of categories when submitting a poster or oral presentation abstract for a conference.
Choosing the right journal—with the right readership—can lead to a similar quandary, particularly for papers that editors may consider too specialized for publication in higher impact multidisciplinary journals.
Because I’m a biologist I have focused on biology in this post, but I know this concept also applies to other scientific disciplines. The goal of bridging sub-disciplines is equally important to the two other Communications journals: Communications Chemistry and Communications Physics. Together with Communications Biology, these three journals will provide opportunities for a full spectrum of natural sciences research to be published.
Interdisciplinary at every level
Although I’ve highlighted the increasing complexity of research (in part tied to an increase in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary work), ‘interdisciplinary’ doesn’t automatically mean bulging, complex papers. It does mean applying the right tools from any research field to answer the question at hand.Communications Biology doesn’t require paradigm shifts. We only require new biological insight to a problem of importance to other biologists—working closely on a similar question or further afield.
Collaboration in interdisciplinary research doesn’t stop at publication. Reaching a broad audience with readers who may think of themselves as being part of a different area of biology, but who relate to your study, can lead to new ideas in another field or to future research collaborations.
Finally, I know that researchers looking to publish in a broad-scope, open-access biology journal have many options. With Communications Biology, my editorial team and I aim to deliver the best author service possible, drawing on the collective experience and expertise of the entire Nature Research family. We are also committed to the Nature Research goals of promoting transparency and reproducibility in research and to providing a fair and timely review process. We hope you will think of Communications Biology for your next paper.
You can submit an article to Communications Biology here.
For queries about the journal, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org