2019
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Science of Success

Nature’s reach: narrow work has broad impact

Abstract

How knowledge informs and alters disciplines is itself an enlightening, and vibrant field. This type of meta research into new findings, insights, conceptual frameworks and techniques is important, among other things, for policymakers who fund research in the hope of tackling society’s most pressing challenges, which inevitably span disciplines.

Since its founding in 1869, Nature has offered a venue for publishing major advances from many fields. To mark its anniversary, we track here how papers cite and are cited across disciplines, using data on tens of millions of scientific articles indexed in Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science (WoS), a bibliometric database that encompasses many thousands of research journals starting from 1900. We pay particular attention to articles that appeared in Nature. In our view, this snapshot, for all its idiosyncrasies, reveals how scientific work is ever more becoming a mixture of disciplines.

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