I’m in the middle of preparing a talk that I’m scheduled to give in Madrid in a few days. The talk is called “Myths and realities of publishing in the Nature journals”, and its goal, at least in part, is to dispel the myth that our journals discriminate against, say, Spanish-speaking countries or developing nations, and that we favor countries like the USA and Britain.
Thinking about the comments I’ve heard from people, this myth can be divided into at least four parts:
1. The fame myth — “to publish in the Nature journals, you have to be a big name.”
2. The friends myth — “to publish in the Nature journals, you have to be a friend of the journal, and you have to be on first-name terms with everyone in the field so that you always draw positive reviewers.”
3. The language myth — “to publish in the Nature journals, you have to have the Queen’s English, or the editors won’t even read your paper.”
4. The surname myth — “to publish in the Nature journals, it’s better if you are Dr. White and not Dr. Blanco. In fact, if I were to change the names of the authors in my paper to anglosaxon names, I’m sure you would have sent it out for external review at least.”
Each of these myths can be rebutted, and part of my talk will consist of data proving that this is not the way we operate. For example, you don’t need to be famous to publish in Nature Medicine. Just flicking through the last four issues of the journal (including April 2008), I found that 75% of the articles we published were authored by people I didn’t know about before their submission.
That being said, I’m most interested in any evidence you may have in support of the myths. I want to make sure that my perception of the fairness of our processes is a legitimate one. So, if you know of any specific instance of discrimination, please send it over. I may even include it in the talk.