How to assess innovation across disciplines

Ai Lin Chun, one of the Nature Nanotechnology editors, writes on Nature Network that the journal has received a few voluntary comments from referees recently on the topic of innovative (creative) papers versus those bridging the gap between ‘pure’ nanotechnology and applied clinical research. She explains that papers submitted to Nature Nanotechnlogy in the field of nanomedicine often struggle during the peer-review process for these and other reasons, providing a challenge for the editors in making their decisions about publication.

The main criteria for publication in Nature journals (Nature Nanotechnology included) are: originality; technical soundness; a substantial advance over previous work; conceptual novelty or unexpectedness; and broad interest or practical applicability.

One of the criticisms raised by Nature Nanotechnology‘s peer-reviewers has been that publishing innovative ’nanomedicine’ papers may be exciting to physical scientists in the nanotechnology field, but would not be credibile within the medical and clinical community. This is an example of a common challenge that faces editors of interdisciplinary journals when setting publication criteria: an exciting advance in one field may be less than compelling to those in another. In the case of nanomedicine, there are some interesting perspectives expressed by researchers in response to Ai Lin Chun’s post.


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