Nature is one of the oldest and most reputable general-purpose scientific journals, first published on November 4, 1869. Although most scientific journals are now highly specialized, Nature still publishes articles across a wide range of scientific fields, although its main topic remains biology.
Research scientists are the primary audience for the journal, but article summaries in the front of the journal make many of the most important articles accessible for the general public. Also toward the front of each issue are editorials and news articles on issues of general interest to scientists, often including articles on government funding of science, book reviews, scientific ethics, and the history and future of a branch of research. The remainder of the journal consists mostly of research articles which are often dense and highly technical.
Nature is edited and published in the United Kingdom by Nature Publishing Group, a subsidiary of Macmillan Publishers which in turn is owned by the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. Nature has offices in London, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Paris, Munich, and Basingstoke. Nature Publishing Group also puts out many other more specialized journals under the "Nature" name, including Nature Neuroscience, Nature Methods, and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, to name a few.
For most scientists, having an article published in Nature is very prestigious, and can lead to promotions, grant funding, and attention from the mainstream media. Because of these benefits, competition among scientists to publish in high-level journals like Nature and its closest competitor, Science, can be very fierce. However all articles must undergo peer review for publication, in which other scientists, chosen by the editor, will read and critique the article before publication. The author or authors of the article must then respond to the critiques by changing the article or performing additional experiments, or the editor may choose to reject the article entirely.