Books  General Natural History  History of Science 

Making "Nature": The History of a Scientific Journal

By: Melinda Baldwin(Author)

309 pages, 12 b/w photos and b/w illustrations, 3 tables

University of Chicago Press

Hardback | Sep 2015 | #221537 | ISBN-13: 9780226261454
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £31.50 $40/€34 approx

About this book

Making "Nature" is the first book to chronicle the foundation and development of Nature, one of the world's most influential scientific institutions. Now nearing its hundred and fiftieth year of publication, Nature is the international benchmark for scientific publication. Its contributors include Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, and Stephen Hawking, and it has published many of the most important discoveries in the history of science, including articles on the structure of DNA, the discovery of the neutron, the first cloning of a mammal, and the human genome.

But how did Nature become such an essential institution? In Making "Nature" Melinda Baldwin charts the rich history of this extraordinary publication from its foundation in 1869 to current debates about online publishing and open access. This pioneering study not only tells Nature's story but also sheds light on much larger questions about the history of science publishing, changes in scientific communication, and shifting notions of "scientific community." Nature, as Baldwin demonstrates, helped define what science is and what it means to be a scientist.

"We often think of scientific journals as receptacles for knowledge created elsewhere. But Baldwin shows that Nature, one of the premier journals in the world, was not a passive vessel, but rather a site where the rules of science themselves were debated and developed. Its pages were where scientists defined what it meant to do science: professionalization, peer review, science and internationalism, and the role of science in the public sphere. Making "Nature" presents a powerful argument for the critical role of publishing in the creation of modern science."
– Matthew Stanley, New York University

"Nature's journey from a relatively unsuccessful Victorian magazine aimed at the general public as much as scientific practitioners to its current position as the international benchmark for modern scientific publishing is one of the most important stories in the history of science. Melinda Baldwin tells it with aplomb, exploring the journal's shifts towards specialism and then internationalism, and focusing on the editors, from Norman Lockyer to John Maddox, whose distinctive personalities had such an impact on how Nature communicated, and indeed shaped, modern science. What is particularly impressive about Making "Nature" is that it covers a period of more than a century and a half, from the 1860s to the present, while maintaining the same high levels of insight and expertise. As such, the book will be required reading for anybody interested in science and the media across the whole of the modern age."
– Gowan Dawson, University of Leicester


Citations and Abbreviations
A Note to the Reader

Who Is a “Scientist”?

Chapter One
Nature’s Shifting Audience: 1869–1875

Chapter Two
Nature’s Contributors and the Changing of Britain’s Scientific Guard: 1872–1895

Chapter Three
Defining the “Man of Science” in Nature

Chapter Four
Scientific Internationalism and Scientific Nationalism

Chapter Five
Nature, Interwar Politics, and Intellectual Freedom

Chapter Six
“It Almost Came Out on Its Own”: Nature under L. J. F. Brimble and A. J. V. Gale

Chapter Seven
Nature, the Cold War, and the Rise of the United States

Chapter Eight
“Disorderly Publication”: Nature and Scientific Self-Policing in the 1980s


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Melinda Baldwin is a lecturer in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.

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