the letter from NATURE in response to a very long and unconventional
submission that we sent them. We sent that submission,
to the most elite academic journal we knew, hoping to get their help in
securing checking of the intensification process. NATURE
did not give us the help we asked for. Perhaps they were
right not to do so. They did send the following letter, which was a kindness.
Here is the text:
Letter from Karl Ziemelis,
Physical Science Editor
NATURE dated 11 April 1997
Dr. M.R. Showalter
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
School of Education
7205B Old Sauk Road
Madison, Wi 53717
Dear Dr. Showalter,
Thank you for your letter of 20 February and for your seven linked submissions. I apologize for the unusual length of time that it has taken us to get back to you, but please understand that the sheer volume of interrelated material that you submitted took us rather longer than we had hoped to read and digest. This delay is all the more regrettable as the work is not in a form that we can offer to consider for publication.
As you already clearly realize, the space available in the journal clearly poses a fundamental problem. In my letter of 31 October 1994, I had hoped to explain what we look for in a NATURE paper - in essence, we do not see ourselves as an outlet for exhaustive presentations of scientific problems (regardless of their potential importance), but as a forum for presenting brief and focused reports of outstanding scientific and/or technological merit. An additional, but equally important, characteristic of NATURE papers is that they should be self-contained: sub-dividing an extensive body of work into numerous (but intimately linked) "Nature-length" contributions is simply not a realistic option.
You are clearly appreciative of this fact, in that your stated intention is not so much to dominate our pages with your submissions, but to seek peer review on the work in its entirety, and defer until later the decision about what form any published form might take. This is not, however, a service that we could realistically offer - quite aside from the fact that it would be placing an unrealistic burden on our referees, we aim to send out for peer review only those papers that we judge to be appropriate (at least in principle) for publication in NATURE, in accordance with the criteria outlined above.
is not to deny that within your seven manuscripts there may be the essence
of a NATURE paper; but given the time constraints under which we work,
the onus must be on the authors, rather than on the referees and editors,
to construct such a paper from the vast amount of material supplied.
But I have to say that the need for extensive cross-referencing apparent
in the present manuscripts suggests to us that the likelihood that such
a paper would be readily forthcoming is not too high.
It is therefore our feeling that your interests would be better served
by pursuing publication of the work in a more specialized journal having
the space to accommodate the lengthy exposition that your work so clearly
it is sadly the case that some studies simply do not lend themselves to
the NATURE format, this need not mean that our readers are left in the
dark about the latest developments. As you know, we frequently
discuss such work in the context of our News and Views section, and if
you were to send us preprints of your present papers when they are finally
accepted elsewhere for publication, we could explore the possibility of
doing likewise with your work.
I am very sorry that our decision must be negative on this occasion, but
I hope and trust that you will rapidly receive a more favorable response
Physical Science Editor
This is a rejection from NATURE,
not an acceptance. The favorable language in it stands
for much less than a conventional peer review. Even so,
we believe the letter does tend to support the view that our work is plausible
enough, and important enough, to be worth checking.