Nature embargo policy

Communication with the media

Material submitted to Nature/ Nature journals must not be discussed with the media, except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media only once the publication date has been confirmed and no more than a week before the publication date under our embargo conditions. We reserve the right to halt the consideration or publication of a paper if this condition is broken.

Each week, Nature produces and distributes a press release summarizing the content of the following week's publication. Journalists are given the names of corresponding authors, together with phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses. They are also given access to the full text of the selected papers on the Friday before publication. The content of the press release and papers is embargoed until the evening before the Thursday of publication.

Nature believes that its embargo serves scientists, journalists and the public. Our policy is to release information about our content in a way that provides fair and equal access to the media, allowing them to provide informed comment based on the paper that is to be published. Authors and their institutions' press offices are able then to interact with the media in a well-ordered fashion ahead of publication, and benefit from the subsequent coverage.

Furthermore, the benefits of peer review by journals as a means of giving journalists confidence in new work are self-evident. Premature release to the media denies them that confidence as well as the ability to obtain informed reactions.

For all these reasons, and like several other journals, Nature has refused to publish papers prematurely released to the press. Journalists who break our embargoes have been removed from the press-release circulation list, and we shall continue to use this sanction when appropriate.

Communication between scientists

Nature does not wish to hinder communication between scientists. For that reason, different embargo guidelines apply to work that has been discussed at a conference or displayed on a preprint server and picked up by the media as a result. (Neither conference presentations nor posting on recognized preprint servers constitute prior publication.)

Our guidelines for authors and potential authors in such circumstances are clear-cut in principle: communicate with other researchers as much as you wish, but do not encourage premature publication by discussion with the press (beyond a formal presentation, if at a conference).

This advice may jar with those (including most researchers and all journalists) who see the freedom of information as a good thing. But it embodies a longer-term view: that publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the appropriate culmination of any piece of original research, and an essential prerequisite for public discussion.

If further clarification is required, please contact Nature's press office by e-mail.

Dr Philip Campbell
Editor, Nature
Editor-in-Chief, Nature publications.