I'm wondering if there is something like a typical typeface that is used in scientific texts/ publications
It depends on the branch of scientific studies you're interested in.
For example, there are dedicated mathematical fonts. Or others with exensive glyphs coverage in one area or another.
You could also look for "STIX fonts".
Any specific discipline?
I think of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_modern|Computer Modern]] because I think of TeX, though I don't know how widespread it actually is.
Computer Modern is considered to look funny, and scientists are a conservative bunch. Modern No. 7 used to be very common, because that's what Monotype offered with mathematical symbols - and then they offered four-line mathematics for Times Roman.
While there are now other faces which have had mathematical symbols provided for them, so that a choice is possible - from the American Mathematical Society, from Microsoft, and so on, as scientific publishing is utilitarian rather than decorative, font choice will tend towards the pedestrian. Baskerville, Caledonia, Century Expanded... dull stuff like that.
Of course, before desktop publishing and laser printing, there were scientific publications banged out on Varitypers (yes, the metal shoe kind) and IBM Executive typewriters, for reasons of speed as well as economy.
You'll get a lot of Minion in Nature titles.
My company publishes a lot of social science, and tends toward the traditional Times, Bembo, Sabon, perhaps Stone. Of course a lot of the manuscripts come in from the authors in TeX fonts like CM, but that's a different story...
The Scotch Modern style has long been used, because it has enough shape (with the furling of its serifs), and space (with its hairlines) to accommodate a huge number of different character shapes, disambiguously. For instance, italic "a" and Greek "alpha" are quite distinct. And when a number of characters are close together at different heights, in mathematical formulae, the serifs don't accidentally merge, because the "pot-hooks" turn back on the glyph.
[[http://www.signographie.de/cms/front_content.php?idart=215|The scienterrific font]]
@ Andreas: Can you provide us with some English translation/description? This work looks interesting.
You may start reading some [[http://www.signographie.de/cms/front_content.php?idart=215&changelang=2|introductory description here]]; a products overview can be found [[http://www.signographie.de/cms/front_content.php?idart=282|there]].
Follow the subheads on the left under [Andron].
Any questions welcome.
For me, it would be the typeface combinations supported well by TeX. There's good math/symbol support based on Utopia and on Minion, and those are my current favorites as an individual typesetting technical papers. (The four basic weights of Utopia have been made freely available by Adobe, but you'd have to purchase the basic Minion fonts.) This [[http://www.tug.org/texmf-dist/doc/fonts/free-math-font-survey/survey.html|survey of free math fonts]] can give some idea of what's freely available with TeX, but some of those packages may not quite live up to professional standards in all contexts.
I've seen many math texts set in Computer Modern and in Times (off the top of my head). Perhaps also Minion. No others stand out in my memory. I know that before the current generation of open-source math font support, there was commercial support for Times, Palatino, Charter, Helvetica, and Baskerville through [[http://www.micropress-inc.com/fonts.htm|Micropress]], and I've wondered if that's what some mathematical publishers have used, but I don't really know. Back when there were fewer open-source offerings, I had always wanted to purchase one of those packages, but didn't have the funds as a graduate student.