How to get published in Science or Nature

If you ask any STEM researcher to name top journals, I’d be surprised if Science and Nature weren’t near the top of their list. However, getting something published in these journals is pretty unrealistic for the majority of us, no matter how far advanced you are in your academic career.

So what would you say if I told you that I found a creative way to do so as a PhD student (and first author no less!). I stumbled upon a lesser known workaround to get published in these top journals and I want to share it with you.

Career Articles

So what’s the big secret? Well, it turns out both Science and Nature have career-focussed columns in each edition of their journal. They invite researchers to submit articles for these and authors from all career stages are allowed: even those of us still working towards our PhDs. These articles are generally light-hearted, interesting stories with a key message to appeal to a wide audience: last year I had one published in Science about reading fiction books!

Science: Working Life

How the process works

Do you have an interesting career story to share? Send it to

Working Life essays use personal stories to convey career-related messages that are relevant to a broad audience. Various formats can be effective, but the most common is a narrative personal essay—not a career chronology or an op-ed.

Working Life pieces typically have a strong story arc, punctuated with specific vivid anecdotes and personal reflection. The key is to identify an interesting personal experience, conflict, or challenge and to reflect on it so that a range of readers can relate and take away their own lessons.

Because of the relatively short length—the last page of the magazine, approximately 700 words—it is best to focus on a single lesson or theme. If you’re struggling to tell your story in that length, the first draft may be up to 1000 words, but keep in mind that the final draft will be limited to one page.

Submissions that are potentially of interest for publication will proceed to a collaborative editing process to shape the story, usually over the course of a few months.

Science – Working Life Author Guidelines

Get inspiration from reading previous Working Life articles here.

My experience publishing in Science

Last summer I submitted a draft to the Science editorial team. Within 48 hours they replied saying the draft had potential and asked to schedule a talk over Skype. After that we worked for a few weeks sending drafts back and forth to get the article to a position where the head editor could make a decision: which for me happened about 8 weeks after sending the initial draft. A month later it was online and appeared in the November 15th 2019 copy. To go from idea to a print copy in three months isn’t bad going at all!

The editor I worked with really put a lot of work into helping to improve the writing and story. It’s not at all like the typical journal submission experience. Please don’t be put off submitting something because you’re worried about the quality of your writing, I can’t speak highly enough of how encouraging the editorial team are.

Nature: Career Column

Nature has a Career Column which you can submit articles to.

Send your pitch to with a clear subject line.


Get inspiration by reading previous Career Column articles on Nature’s website here.

Nature publish articles of roughly 800 words and have no formatting requirements. Unlike Science I can’t yet comment on the submission experience with Nature though you can read a fellow scientist’s account of publishing in Nature’s Career Column. I’m currently preparing an article to submit to Nature so will update this article in due course.

But it’s not real science – why bother?

Perhaps you’re wondering what the point is of submitting something if it doesn’t relate to your research. Is it just a badge-collecting exercise? No is the answer!

A good reason to publish an article is because you have a message you want to get out to the world. For starters, I can’t think of many other ways you could go from having an idea to potentially sharing that thought with hundreds of thousands of scientists in a few months.

After my article was published in Science I had people all over the world reaching out to me to say how the piece resonated with them or even influenced their behaviour. I expect that everyone has an interesting story to tell and urge you to share it. Currently my article has over 6000 shares on facebook: that’s an incredible amount of exposure!

Plus, in February Science reached out to me to be on a panel of Working Life authors for a Facebook Live discussion. Opportunities like this don’t come around often!

Okay so there were technical difficulties but I’m still very proud to have taken part!

Of course you should also be trying to publish work your academic work too, for which I’ve written a guide to help with writing your first paper.

Have I put it on my CV?

Of course! The article is not peer-reviewed in the traditional sense, so you may have to exercise caution in how you list it on your CV. Nevertheless, science communication, motivation to help others and downright ambition are all valuable traits for potential employers. And yes I’ll admit that there is no getting around the fact that it’s cool to legitimately say that you’ve been published in one of the top journals.

If you have a story you want to share with other researchers, I really do suggest you give submitting an article to Science and/or Nature a shot. Please let me know how you get on!

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