Nature 447, 614 (7 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/447614a; Published online 6 June 2007

Community service


Introducing three free-access websites for research networking and outreach.

The mission statement that appeared in the second issue of Nature in 1869 and is reproduced every week on our printed table of contents may use archaically high-flown language, but it still applies. In essence, we exist to help scientists communicate with each other and to communicate science to wider audiences.

Precisely that duality applies to two websites to be launched this week: Nature Reports Climate Change and Nature Reports Stem Cells. Aimed at researchers and at anyone else who is interested, both give an editorial perspective of their fields through a combination of original journalism and commissioned comment, alongside archived material from other Nature publications. Both sites also facilitate community interactions through blogs.

For example, the climate-change site focuses on post-Kyoto agendas, both journalistically and with an analysis of the obstacles by development expert Jeffrey Sachs (see http://www.nature.com/climate). The stem-cells site contains a similar blend of news about the latest research and comments, as well as a featured editor — this month, cloning researcher Ian Wilmut. It also goes behind the research papers with an editorial commentary and extracts from referees' comments (with their permission) of the paper in this issue of Nature on developmental reprogramming by Egli et al. (see page 679 and http://www.nature.com/stemcells).

These sites will develop further by way of community interactions and applications in the coming months. The original content of both is freely accessible.

Also free is a very different website to be launched next week: Nature Precedings. As its title implies, this site will enable researchers to share, discuss and cite their early findings. It provides a lightly moderated and relatively informal channel for scientists to disseminate information, especially recent experimental results and emerging conclusions. In this sense, it is designed to complement traditional peer-reviewed journals, allowing researchers to make informal communications such as conference papers or presentations more widely available and enabling them to be formally cited. This, in turn, allows them to solicit community feedback and establish priority over their results or ideas.

Intended to cover biomedicine, chemistry and the Earth sciences, the site (http://precedings.nature.com) will host a wide range of research documents, including preprints, unpublished manuscripts, white papers, technical papers, supplementary findings, posters and presentations. All submissions will be reviewed by staff curators and accepted only if they are considered to be legitimate scientific contributions of likely interest to others in that field. No judgement is to be made about the quality or uniqueness of the work, and submissions are not subjected to peer review before they are released. Because of this, accepted submissions will usually be published within one working day, and no charge is made to either authors or readers.

Nature Precedings will make full use of participative features such as tagging, voting and commenting to facilitate the discovery of especially interesting and relevant content. We anticipate that the content will be mirrored by academic partner organizations, several of whom have been involved with us in developing this service. As well as allowing it to become incorporated into the substantial information hubs already provided by these organizations, this federated approach will also help to ensure the long-term availability of the content — and act as a practical guarantee of the Nature Publishing Group's pledge not to charge readers for access.

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