Friday, 23 December 2011

Has the journal Nature sold out to the alternative medicine industry and quack/fake science?

What to say about this move of the world's (by far) most prestigeous scientific journal?

 Well, this surely does not inspire much confidence:

We are grateful for the support of our sponsors, Saishunkan Pharmaceutical Co., ltd. and the Kitasato University Oriental Medicine Research Center.
And I'm sure the boost of the Nature bank balance was handsome. This suplementary issue will very probably also do wonders for the Nature impact factor, a commodity worth its weight in rhodium in these days when scientific publication and citation is a currency and – if stunts like this are becoming a habit among the leading journals – pretty soon not very much more than that. The Nature editors must be proud of being pioneers in this area.

One blogger with both insight and clout has so far concluded:

I'm left with the conclusion that, to their eternal shame, by publishing this issue, the editors of Nature have become willing shills for the TCM industry. Nature has sold out, and its editors and publisher should be called out for it.

But, please, judge for yourselves here (the supplement issue is apparently open access online) and read the comments so far....

Here, and here.



  1. It might be worth pointing out that sponsored "outlook" specials are nothing new with Nature. For example, the previous issue had a special on multiple myeloma sponsored by Onyx Pharmaceuticals in just the same way. Same message: "We are grateful for the support of our sponsor, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. As always, Nature carries sole responsibility for all editorial content." Not sure how long this has been going on, but a December 2009 issue on MicroRNAs was sponsored by Regulus Therapeutics IncS, and there has been numerous sponsored issues since (discounting their promotional features paid by various regions, which go much further back if I remember).

  2. The problem is not commercial sponsorship as such. If it is openly declared, it is quite OK. Were it not, large chunks of of medical and natural science would have had to close down ages ago.

    The problem starts if there is a connection between an otherwise high prestigeous journal or research institution taking some sponsor chocolate and applying less rigorous standards than usually applied. This is what the commentators are claiming in this particular case.