Journal journeys: Day 21, Cover story

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a journal cover worth?

Well, in 2007, when I was on a paper that was lucky enough to be featured on the inside cover of Angewandte Chemie, it was 1000 Euros (that’s almost $1500). If our artwork had been judged to have been worthy for the real cover, i.e., the one on the outside, it would have cost 1800 Euros – I don’t know how the prices have changed since then. It’s a similar story at Chem. Commun. – one of my papers made it to the inside cover back in 2005, and I think a ‘contribution’ was made to the production costs – I don’t recall how much that was.

There has been some debate on journal cover art – some journals do have it and some don’t. Some charge for it and some don’t. Most authors in my experience are quite eager to have their work featured on a journal cover – it’s a big glossy colourful advert for their work – and occasionally they make for nice posters too!

When establishing a new journal, especially here at NPG, it’s another part of the process that needs some careful thought. A ‘pre-launch’ cover can be used on sample issues and in marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the journal in the community – in this case, the cover is not only an advert for the work it depicts, but the journal itself.

The reason I bring this up is that we’ve just finalized our ‘pre-launch’ cover for Nature Chemistry. Just like the other Nature research journals, on the cover of each issue we will have artwork that is related to the content inside – usually one of the research papers. Obviously we have no inside content yet – and so we had to think of an image that says ‘chemistry’ – and be inclusive of as many of the sub-fields as possible… not easy, and unless you just slap a stereotypical periodic table or a cheesy line-up of glassware containing pretty coloured liquids on it, there’s a bit of thought involved. And you also want something that is visually striking.

I think we’ve checked a lot of the boxes and have a very good cover – you’ll start seeing it on the web and at some conferences in the near future (and I’ll fill you in on the details of exactly what the image is and where it came from when it goes public…).


Stuart Cantrill (Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry)