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Selection: Nature [35 articles] 

Publications by author Nature.

Europe’s Joint Research Centre, although improving, must think bigger

Nature, Vol. 550, No. 7674. (3 October 2017), pp. 8-8,


External report criticizes lack of exploratory research. [Excerpt] The European Union’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) uses the label EU Science Hub now. Whether the rebranding will increase its profile is one question. What science gets done inside this hub is another. In response to that query, there is some positive news. It is doing what it should be, and doing it well: collecting scientific and technical evidence in support of EU policies. That’s according to the report of an external evaluation released ...


Steps towards transparency in research publishing

Nature, Vol. 549, No. 7673. (26 September 2017), pp. 431-431,


As research and editorial processes become increasingly open, scientists and editors need to be proactive but also alert to risks. [Excerpt] [...] The examples given here relate to initiatives by the Nature Research journals, some of which follow pioneering work by other publishers. [...] One such initiative is the checklist introduced by Nature and the Nature journals in 2013 for life-sciences submissions. [...] Malcolm Macleod of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and his colleagues [..] looked at the completeness of reporting in journals ...


The maximum climate ambition needs a firm research backing

Nature, Vol. 537, No. 7622. (28 September 2016), pp. 585-586,


We need to know what the 1.5 °C warming target will involve — even if we don’t reach it. [Excerpt] [...] The 2015 Paris climate agreement commits governments to keeping average global surface temperatures to between 1.5 °C and 2 °C above the preindustrial level. But warming has already passed the 1-degree mark, and some estimates suggest that even if current commitments are fully implemented, they would allow temperatures to rise nearly 3 °C. If the 2-degree goal seems implausible, given current politics, 1.5 °C is ...


More accountability for big-data algorithms

Nature, Vol. 537, No. 7621. (21 September 2016), pp. 449-449,


To avoid bias and improve transparency, algorithm designers must make data sources and profiles public. [Excerpt] [...] Algorithms, from the simplest to the most complex, follow sets of instructions or learn to accomplish a goal. In principle, they could help to make impartial analyses and decisions by reducing human biases and prejudices. But there is growing concern that they risk doing the opposite, and will replicate and exacerbate human failings [...]. And in an era of powerful computers, machine learning and big data, ...


Who is accountable?

Nature, Vol. 450, No. 7166. (31 October 2007), pp. 1-1,


How the responsibilities of co-authors for a scientific paper's integrity could be made more explicit. ...


Evolution: why some groups have more species

Nature, Vol. 537, No. 7620. (14 September 2016), pp. 282-282,


[Excerpt] [...] Across the tree of life, some groups have many more species than others. To find out why, Joshua Scholl and John Wiens at the University of Arizona in Tucson collated published data on the number of species and their phylogenetic relationships in each group of living organisms. Contrary to some hypotheses, older groups did not have more species than young groups. Instead, the authors found that the balance of speciation and extinction over time, known as the diversification rate, determined ...


Meteorology: air particles boost rain extremes

Nature, Vol. 537, No. 7620. (14 September 2016), pp. 282-282,


[Excerpt] As the climate warms, tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere may have a greater effect than greenhouse gases on increasing the frequency of extreme rain and snowfall. [\n] Greenhouse gases and atmospheric aerosols both drive extreme precipitation, which is expected to increase with climate change. [...] ...


The past, present and future of the PhD thesis

Nature, Vol. 535, No. 7610. (6 July 2016), pp. 7-7,


Writing a PhD thesis is a personal and professional milestone for many researchers. But the process needs to change with the times. [Excerpt] According to one of those often-quoted statistics that should be true but probably isn’t, the average number of people who read a PhD thesis all the way through is 1.6. And that includes the author. More interesting might be the average number of PhD theses that the typical scientist — and reader of Nature — has read from start ...


Disciplinary action

Nature, Vol. 495, No. 7442. (27 March 2013), pp. 409-410,


How scientists share and reuse information is driven by technology but shaped by discipline. [Excerpt] [\n] [...] The transformation of research publishing is less a revolution and more a war of attrition. Battle lines were drawn long ago and all sides are well dug-in. In 2001, this journal published a series of viewpoints on the future of ‘e-access to the primary literature’ (see Those attitudes seem strikingly familiar today. At the time, the founders of the Public Library of Science initiative (then PLS, ...


Reality check on reproducibility

Nature, Vol. 533, No. 7604. (25 May 2016), pp. 437-437,


A survey of Nature readers revealed a high level of concern about the problem of irreproducible results. Researchers, funders and journals need to work together to make research more reliable. [Excerpt] Is there a reproducibility crisis in science? Yes, according to the readers of Nature. Two-thirds of researchers who responded to a survey by this journal said that current levels of reproducibility are a major problem. [\n] [...] [\n] What does ‘reproducibility’ mean? Those who study the science of science joke that the definition ...


Climate science: where climate models fall short

Nature, Vol. 531, No. 7592. (2 March 2016), pp. 10-10,


Climate models tend to overestimate the extent to which climate change contributes to weather events such as extreme heat and rain. [\n] Omar Bellprat and Francisco Doblas-Reyes at the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, used an idealized statistical model to compare the frequency of weather extremes in simulations [...] ...


Why interdisciplinary research matters

Nature, Vol. 525, No. 305. (2015),


Scientists must work together to save the world. A special issue asks how they can scale disciplinary walls. [Excerpt] Scientists must work together to save the world. A special issue asks how they can scale disciplinary walls. To solve the grand challenges facing society — energy, water, climate, food, health — scientists and social scientists must work together. But research that transcends conventional academic boundaries is harder to fund, do, review and publish — and those who attempt it struggle for recognition ...


Rise of the citizen scientist

Nature, Vol. 524, No. 7565. (18 August 2015), pp. 265-265,


From the oceans to the soil, technology is changing the part that amateurs can play in research. But this greater involvement raises concerns that must be addressed. [Excerpt] [...] Citizen science has come a long way from the first distributed-computing projects that hoovered up spare processing power on home computers to perform calculations or search for alien signals. And it has progressed further still since the earliest public surveys of wildlife: it was way back in 1900 that the Audubon Society persuaded ...


Misplaced faith

Nature, Vol. 522, No. 7554. (2 June 2015), pp. 6-6,


The public trusts scientists much more than scientists think. But should it? [Excerpt] [... A] poll by Ipsos MORI this year showed that scientists are among the most trusted professionals in Britain; some nine in ten people said that they trust scientists to follow all of the research rules and regulations relevant to them. How many scientists would say the same? Not many, probably, of the attendees at this week’s 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As we ...


Technical support

Nature, Vol. 517, No. 7536. (28 January 2015), pp. 528-528,


[Excerpt] Given that technical and support staff are such an important pillar of academic life, it is perhaps surprising that so little academic attention has been paid to their lot — and whether they are content with it. In 2011, researchers at King’s College London did publish a rare survey of skills and training in the United Kingdom, which raised a series of red flags (see Technical staff are exposed on the front line when funding cuts bite: numbers working ...


Journals unite for reproducibility

Nature, Vol. 515, No. 7525. (5 November 2014), pp. 7-7,


[Excerpt] Consensus on reporting principles aims to improve quality control in biomedical research and encourage public trust in science. Reproducibility, rigour, transparency and independent verification are cornerstones of the scientific method. Of course, just because a result is reproducible does not make it right, and just because it is not reproducible does not make it wrong. A transparent and rigorous approach, however, will almost always shine a light on issues of reproducibility. This light ensures that science moves forward, through independent verifications ...


Code share

Nature, Vol. 514, No. 7524. (29 October 2014), pp. 536-536,


Papers in Nature journals should make computer code accessible where possible. [Excerpt] A theme in Nature’s ongoing campaign for the replicability and reproducibility of our research papers is that key components of publications should be available to peers who wish to validate the techniques and results. A core element of many papers is the computercode used by authors in models, simulations and data analysis. In an ideal world, this code would always be transportable and easily used by others. In such a ...


Out of Africa

Nature, Vol. 514, No. 7521. (7 October 2014), pp. 139-139,


The Ebola outbreak in West Africa must be shut down now, or the disease will continue to spread. [Excerpt] Ebola is out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Although this has been the case since late spring, the international pledges of help have yet to translate into concerted, rapid action on the ground. The virus still has the upper hand. Between 23 September and 1 October alone, the number of cases rose from 6,500 to almost 7,500, according to ...


Retraction challenges

Nature, Vol. 514, No. 7520. (1 October 2014), pp. 5-5,


[Excerpt] A key responsibility of any journal is to correct erroneous information that it has published, and as quickly as possible. [\n] Easily said! It is straightforward enough for authors to correct a paper. But if it becomes clear after publication that the conclusions are fundamentally flawed, a retraction is appropriate — and things can then get a lot more challenging. [...] [\n] That is why the literature of retractions in high-impact journals might be skewed towards misconduct that has been proved through ...


People power

Nature, Vol. 512, No. 7515. (27 August 2014), pp. 347-347,


[Excerpt] Climate models must consider how humans are responding to a warming world. Physics and mathematics can tell us how the Universe began, but as the cosmologist Stephen Hawking noted: “They are not much use in predicting human behaviour because there are far too many equations to solve.” The motives, needs and desires that drive human action have long resisted rational analysis. From the volatility of the stock market to fads and fashions that flare brightly and then vanish, the ability ...


Announcement: reducing our irreproducibility

Nature, Vol. 496, No. 7446. (24 April 2013), pp. 398-398,


[Excerpt] Over the past year, Nature has published a string of articles that highlight failures in the reliability and reproducibility of published research (collected and freely available at The problems arise in laboratories, but journals such as this one compound them when they fail to exert sufficient scrutiny over the results that they publish, and when they do not publish enough information for other researchers to assess results properly. From next month, Nature and the Nature research journals will introduce editorial ...


Glaciology: Antarctic area is doomed to melt

Nature, Vol. 509, No. 7501. (21 May 2014), pp. 403-403,


Several of Antarctica's glaciers have already begun an unstoppable meltdown, two studies suggest. Eric Rignot at the University of California, Irvine, and his colleagues used satellite radar to measure the retreat of five glaciers in West Antarctica and found that there is nothing holding the ice sheets back from catastrophic collapse ...


Share alike

Nature, Vol. 507, No. 7491. (12 March 2014), pp. 140-140,


Research communities need to agree on standard etiquette for data-sharing. [Excerpt] In many fields, making research data available online for all is a step beyond making research papers open-access. This might puzzle communities that have already agreed to share. [...] Communities need to debate the ethics of data-sharing and agree on etiquette. When a researcher relies on another’s data, for example, it should be standard practice to invite the data-providers to be co-authors. Ecologists Clifford Duke and John Porter have suggested guidelines ...


Parallel lines

Nature, Vol. 506, No. 7489. (26 February 2014), pp. 407-408,


A collaborative online mathematics project holds lessons for other disciplines. [Excerpt] Crowd-sourcing has reached mathematics, and at first glance it might seem as if this stereotypically solitary discipline is finally catching up with what other sciences have been doing for years. But, as we explore on page 422, the maths project Polymath, which invites participants to pitch in with ideas and results that might help to solve whatever problem the coordinator has set, is in some ways ahead of the curve. Not ...


Trick of the light

Nature, Vol. 506, No. 7486. (6 February 2014), pp. 6-6,


The Amazon doesn’t absorb extra carbon in the dry season after all. It can become a carbon source. ...


The greater good

Nature, Vol. 505, No. 7481. (2 January 2014), pp. 5-5,


Governments, funding agencies and universities must all do their bit to ensure that research is appropriately assessed and rewarded. ...


Sink or swim?

Nature, Vol. 504, No. 7480. (18 December 2013), pp. 331-332,


A rethink on monitoring land-use change is needed to estimate effects on global warming. ...


Lecture notes

Nature, Vol. 504, No. 7478. (4 December 2013), pp. 8-8,


A physics course that hooked a generation reminds us that teachers need support. ...


Identification failure

Nature, Vol. 501, No. 7467. (18 September 2013), pp. 451-451,


Lack of experimental-resource identifiers in papers may affect reproducibility. ...


The final assessment

Nature, Vol. 501, No. 7467. (18 September 2013), pp. 281-281,


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has provided invaluable evidence for policy-makers, but giant reports should give way to nimbler, more relevant research. ...


Hidden heat

Nature, Vol. 500, No. 7464. (28 August 2013), pp. 501-501,


Scientists are homing in on the reasons for the current hiatus in global warming, but all must recognize that the long-term risk of warming from carbon dioxide remains high. ...


Beyond compare

Nature, Vol. 500, No. 7464. (28 August 2013), pp. 501-501,


Metaphors are like cheese — often desirable but sometimes full of holes. ...


Climate sciences: Global heat waves on the rise

Nature, Vol. 500, No. 7463. (21 August 2013), pp. 380-380,


Heat waves will become more common by 2040. Climate models used by Dim Coumou of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Alexander Robinson at the Complutense University of Madrid predict that about 20% of Earth's land surface will experience monthly temperatures that are more than three… ...


Devil in the details

Nature, Vol. 470, No. 7334. (16 February 2011), pp. 305-306,


To ensure their results are reproducible, analysts should show their workings ...


Must try harder

Nature, Vol. 483, No. 7391. (28 March 2012), pp. 509-509,
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