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Bibliometric analysis of the publications in the journals Nature and Science between 1998 and 2012

Raül Isaac Méndez-Vásquez1, Eduard Suñén-Pinyol1, Lluís Rovira2
Research Group on Bibliometrics (BAC)
1 Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRI)
2 Institució CERCA. Centres de Recerca de Catalunya. Barcelona, 2012. (CERCA)

For comments or suggestions please contact us: bac@fundaciorecerca.cat

This is the interactive version of the study.

This application enables selecting the publications from one journal or both of them, as well as selecting two different periods of time: one comprising 15 years from 1998 to 2012, and the other the most recent 5 complete years of the study (2008-2012).

For every period and subset of data countries of host organizations and production profiles using the JCR categories are available. Also interactive line-charts can be built for a wide range of countries.

Cities are also available when accessing any country, as well as top publishing researchers whenever available.

The reader can learn more about the preparation of the report in the Methodology section of this website.

A brief version of the report is also available here [pending]


According to its official website Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

According to its official website Science is a weekly, peer-reviewed journal that publishes significant original scientific research, plus reviews and analyses of current research and science policy. We welcome submissions from all fields of science and from any source.

Given their broad scope these two journals are frequently referred to as multidisciplinary journals.

The readership bases of these journals are huge, around 130 thousand readers in the case of Science, and 424 thousand in the case of Nature. However, given that institutional subscriptions and online access reach larger audiences, their readership base may reach one million.

Among the differences between these two journals, it is worth mentioning that Nature does not employ an editorial board of senior scientists, nor is it affiliated to a scientific society or institution. They have their own board of editors with background in a variety of fields in science and technology. In contrast, Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The publishers’ headquarters of these journals are located on each side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is located in London, and the AAAS in Washington DC. The NPG is publishing company, while the AAAS is non-profit organization.

After all, the success of these journals have been, and is still, based on their capacity to attract and select creative, of interdisciplinary interest, timely, elegant and with surprising conclusions work. Nature published only 11% of the original research papers submitted in 1997, and the 8% of the manuscripts submitted in 2011 . The staff editors reject most of the manuscripts without undergoing peer-review. Science currently accepts less than 7% of the original research papers submitted . As in the case of Nature, staff editors make a pre-selection of the manuscripts.

Along their histories both journals have published significant scientific breakthroughs made by prominent scientists, some of which have been awarded Nobel prizes. In the case of Nature, the neutron by James Chadwick in 1932, the structure of DNA by J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick in 1953. The first cloning of a mammal (Dolly the sheep) by I. Wilmut, A. E. Schnieke, J. McWhir, A. J. Kind and K. H. S. Campbell in 1997, and more recently, the human genome constitute some examples. In the case of Science, papers on fruit fly genetics by Thomas Hunt Morgan, gravitational bending by Albert Einstein, and spiral nebulae by Edwin Hubble in the early part of the 20th century constitute some examples.

The prominence of these two journals is acknowledged in every scientific and technological field, even when neither of these journals are their primary dissemination channels.

Given that searching for scientific and technological breakthroughs is of paramount importance for these journals, publishing original research papers in any of these suggests that their authors have the potential to make significant contributions in advancing knowledge in their fields. However, it is evident that not all published work accomplishes such high objective. Likewise, Nature and Science are not the only journals publishing important breakthroughs.


The aim of this report is to perform a bibliometric analysis of the original research papers published in Nature and Science between 1998 and 2012, both included.


Collection of publications

In order to restrict the analysis to original research papers only articles, reviews and proceeding papers published between 1998 and 2012 have been selected for the study. The rest are considered 'non citable' documents and are not taken into account in the rest of the reports.

As shown below the size of the two journals is similar and only a third of their publications correspond to citable documents as defined in this study.

Non citable
14.912 (36,0%)
26.545 (64,0%)
13.906 (34,5%)
26.404 (65,5%)

Distribution of publications among Scientific Areas

Publications on science and biomedicine topics formed the core of publications of both journals. More specifically, physics and genomics matters were the most frequently addressed subjects.

Social Science

Distribution of publications among continents

North America and Europe are the main sources of publications of both journals. The share of publications from Europe was sligthly bigger in Nature than in Science, and viceversa in the case of publications from North America.

North America
South America

For more details see the interactive report section.