Nature Wishes Your Librarian had Leukemia


The advertising department over at the Nature Publishing Group isn’t filled with the sharpest knives in the drawer — as I’ve pointed out previously. They are responsible for the long vertical banners that run along the right column of their webpages (see the example to the right). Each of these banners pushes some journal, webpage, or “portal” that Nature is trying to pimp. The example shown here links to a page for you to request that your library purchase a subscription to the Nature journal Leukemia.

These advertisements cycle without any apparent rhyme or reason; I came across the Leukemia ad while reading an article on fitness landscapes — hardly the reading material of your typical oncologist. But I could care less if the NPG doesn’t have good product placement, and the ads aren’t all that obtrusive anyway.

But let’s take a look at what the ad says:

Do you like what you’re reading?

I guess I do. I mean, I don’t understand this area of evolutionary theory particularly well, so I’m probably the wrong person to judge whether this article is any good. And it’s a review, so that adds another level of difficulty on my ability to judge the quality. Also, the authors begin with an anecdote on intelligent design creationism, which I don’t find all the necessary. But I guess I like what I’m reading as much as I could like any dry research article. Although I’m not sure how any of this relates to Leukemia.

Now that we’ve addressed that question, what else does the advertisement say?

Recommend Leukemia to your librarian today!

You want me to what? Did you just ask me to suggest that my librarian contract a hematological malignancy (bonus points for using a big medical term)? I think you want me to walk on over to our life sciences library and ask the bibliomicist (you didn’t know librarians had their own -omics, did you?) why she hasn’t contracted a bone marrow disease. Who are the ad wizards that came up with that one? Do they even read what they write?

Not only does the product advertised have absolutely nothing to with the article it’s being advertised alongside, it’s requesting that someone I don’t even know contract a potentially fatal disease. This misunderstanding could easily be corrected using the following sentence:

Recommend the journal Leukemia to your librarian today!

If the ad contained that suggestion, then I could wander up to the library and ask that they subscribe to a journal. No longer would I be requesting that the librarian come down with cancer.


  1. #1 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 15, 2007

    I know a few people to whom I would gladly recommend leukemia.
    None are librarians, however.

  2. #2 Julie Stahlhut
    March 15, 2007

    Some other journal titles turned up by a cursory check:

    Arthritis & Rheumatism

    I had no idea that being a librarian was so dangerous.

  3. #3 Brian
    March 16, 2007

    You know what I don’t like about the Nature group sites? They have no link at all to “cited by” papers.

    But, for the most part, ads in science journals are hilarious, because the ad agencies generally have no idea what they’re advertising. So they put in a picture of a horse or a bunny and say “Buy this miRNA detection kit!” I think the best one I ever saw was an ad for some PCR kit with the tagline “Use the right tool for the job!” So the person using the right tool was this brawny lumberjack in a plaid shirt with a chainsaw, cutting down a tree. The person using the wrong tool was some scrawny guy with his arm in a cast, holding a beaver by the tail. And the beaver was gnawing away at a tree.

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