In December, cell biologist Randy Schekman of the University of California at Berkeley, two months after becoming a Nobel laureate for his work on how cells move parcels of molecules around, announced that he would no longer be publishing papers in the “luxury journals” Nature, Science and Cell. The “tyranny” exercised by these top journals, he argued in the Guardian, is distorting science, rewarding research that is flashy and trendy rather than necessarily important and forcing scientists to devote undue effort into publishing there.
The response from the journal editors was muted. Nature’s editor Philip Campbell insisted that the decisions of his staff weren’t driven by the likely media coverage a paper will generate, which they couldn’t predict anyway. Monica Bradford, executive editor of Science, issued a statement that, while doubtless true, came across with consummate corporate blandness: “Our editorial staff is dedicated to ensuring a thorough and professional peer review upon which they determine which papers to select for inclusion in our journal.”