Nature 434, 257 (17 March 2005) | doi:10.1038/434257b; Published online 16 March 2005

Nature respects preprint servers


... despite false rumours to the contrary.

The surest way of hiding the truth about a journal's policies, it seems, is to publish it in the Guide to Authors. At Nature, this rich treasure trove of essential information is lovingly cared for by staff. Successive improvements in our presentation of research papers are reflected in changes to stylistic guidelines. Editors labour mightily over policy development, and craft their statements with all the precision of a Swiss watchmaker.

Alas, this is all to no avail. Too often, authors submit papers that fail to conform to our guidelines; outraged readers wishing to complain about content fail to follow the procedures; and journalists spread false representations of our media policies.

But perhaps the most malignant rumours are those spread by scientists themselves — in all good faith but erroneously. One such is about prepublication. Nature, it is said, does not allow authors to distribute preprints of their work or place drafts of their papers on preprint servers, or even discuss their submitted work at conferences.

This is false.

Nature never wishes to stand in the way of communication between researchers. We seek rather to add value for authors and the community at large in our peer review, selection and editing.

Communication between researchers includes not only conferences but also preprint servers. The ArXiv preprint server is the medium of choice for (mainly) physicists and astronomers who wish to share drafts of their papers with their colleagues, and with anyone else with sufficient time and knowledge to navigate it.

So please let's put a myth about this journal to rest. As first stated in an editorial in 1997, and since then in our Guide to Authors, if scientists wish to display drafts of their research papers on an established preprint server before or during submission to Nature or any Nature journal, that's fine by us.