How to submit

Online submission

Owing to the volume of manuscripts we receive, all submissions need to be made via our online submission system. Using this system, authors can upload manuscript files (text, figures, videos) directly to our office and check on the status of their manuscripts during the review process. In addition, reviewers can access the manuscript online, which speeds up the review process. Revised manuscripts should be uploaded via the link provided in the editor's decision letter. Please do not submit revisions as new manuscripts.

Editorial and publishing policies

Before a manuscript is submitted, please review our journal policies, and ensure that the submission complies with our policy requirements.

Submission policies

Submission to Nature Communications is taken to imply that there is no significant overlap between the submitted manuscript and any other papers from the same authors under consideration or in press elsewhere. (Abstracts or unrefereed web preprints do not compromise novelty). The authors must include copies of all related manuscripts with any overlap in authorship that are under consideration or in press elsewhere. If a related manuscript is submitted elsewhere while the manuscript is under consideration at Nature Communications, a copy of the related manuscript must be sent to the editor.

The primary affiliation for each author should be the institution where the majority of their work was done. If an author has subsequently moved, the current address may also be stated.

If the manuscript includes personal communications, please provide a written statement of permission from any person who is quoted. E-mail permission messages are acceptable.

Follow this link for further information on the review process and how editors make decisions.

After acceptance, a copy editor may make changes to the manuscript so that the text and figures are readable and clear to those outside the field, and so that papers conform to our style. Contributors are sent proofs and are welcome to discuss proposed changes with the editors, but Nature Communications reserves the right to make the final decision about matters of style and the size of figures.

The editors also reserve the right to reject a paper even after it has been accepted if it becomes apparent that there are serious problems with the scientific content or with violations of our publishing policies.

Additional editorial policies can be found on the Nature journals joint policies page. This page includes information on manuscripts reviewed at other Nature journals, competing financial interests declarations, pre-publication publicity, deposition of data as a condition of publication, availability of data and reagents after publication, human and animal subjects, digital image integrity, biosecurity, refutations, complaints, correction of mistakes, duplicate publication, confidentiality and plagiarism.

Submission of a signed Competing Financial Interests Statement is required for all content of the journal. This statement will be published at the end of all papers, whether or not a competing financial interest is reported.

Costs

Nature Communications does not charge submission fees or page charges. However, authors submitting to Nature Communications from 20th October 2014 are required to publish their work open access, through payment of an article processing charge (APC), in the case of eventual acceptance. Please see the open access page for APC pricing and details of our free funding support service.

General information for preparing manuscripts

Manuscripts should be prepared for online submission. Online submissions include a cover letter, a manuscript text file, individual figure files and optional Supplementary Information files. For first submissions (i.e. not revised manuscripts), authors may choose to incorporate the manuscript text and figures into a single file (Microsoft Word, TeX/LaTeX or PDF) up to 30 MB in size — the figures may be inserted within the text at the appropriate positions, or grouped at the end. Supplementary Information should be combined and supplied as a separate file, preferably in Word format.

Nature Communications is read by scientists from diverse backgrounds. In addition, many are not native English speakers. Authors should, therefore, give careful thought to how their findings may be communicated clearly. Although a basic knowledge of science may be assumed, please bear in mind that the language and concepts that are standard in one field may be unfamiliar to non-specialists. Thus, technical jargon should be avoided as far as possible and clearly explained where its use is unavoidable.

Abbreviations, particularly those that are not standard, should also be kept to a minimum. Where unavoidable, abbreviations should be defined in the text or legends at their first occurrence, and abbreviations should be used thereafter. The background, rationale and main conclusions of the study should be clearly explained. Titles and abstracts in particular should be written in language that will be readily intelligible to any scientist. We strongly recommend that authors ask a colleague with different expertise to review the manuscript before submission, in order to identify concepts and terminology that may present difficulties to non-specialist readers.

Authors who wish to anonymize their manuscripts for the purposes of double-blind peer review should not include author names or affiliations in the manuscript file or the supplementary information file. No author information should be present in the metadata of the submitted files (this is usually found listed in the 'File' tab under 'Properties' in programmes such as Microsoft Word). When referring to published work of your own avoid phrases such as 'we have shown' and use 'it has been shown' or similar instead. Do not include unpublished work in the reference list. The order in which the authors should appear on the paper in the event of publication must be clearly stated in the cover letter. Acknowledgements and author information/contributions should also be included in the cover letter. Please refer to this checklist for more details.

Follow this link for information about the different types of contributions, along with their length and figure limits. The journal's format requirements are described below.

Nature Communications uses Oxford English spelling.

Language editing

Nature Communications is read by scientists from diverse backgrounds. In addition, many are not native English speakers. Authors should therefore give careful thought to how their findings may be communicated clearly. Although a shared basic knowledge of the relevant research area may be assumed, please bear in mind that the language and concepts that are standard in one subfield may be unfamiliar to non-specialists. Thus, technical jargon should be avoided as far as possible and clearly explained where its use is unavoidable. Abbreviations, particularly those that are not standard, should also be kept to a minimum. The background, rationale and main conclusions of the study should be clearly explained. Titles and abstracts in particular should be written in language that will be readily intelligible to any scientist

Even though no paper will be rejected for poor language, non–native English speakers occasionally receive feedback from editors and reviewers regarding language and grammar usage in their manuscripts. You may wish to consider asking a colleague whose native language is English to read your manuscript and/or to use a professional editing service such as those provided by our affiliates Nature Research Editing Service or American Journal Experts. Please note that the use of a language editing service is not a requirement for publication in Nature Communications.

Cover letter

Authors should provide a cover letter that includes the affiliation and contact information for the corresponding author. Authors should briefly discuss the work's importance and explain why the work is considered appropriate for the diverse readership of Nature Communications. Authors are asked to provide the names and contact information for qualified scientific reviewers and they may request the exclusion of certain referees. Finally, authors should indicate whether they have had any prior discussions with a Nature Communications editor about the work described in the manuscript.

Manuscript text

For first submissions (i.e. not revised manuscripts), authors may choose to incorporate the manuscript text and figures into a single file (Microsoft Word, TeX/LaTeX or PDF) up to 30 MB in size — the figures may be inserted within the text at the appropriate positions, or grouped at the end. Supplementary Information should be combined and supplied as a separate file, preferably in Word format.

Alternatively authors can follow the guidelines outlined below, which must be followed when submitting files for revisions.

All textual content should be provided in a single file, prepared using either Microsoft Word or TeX/LaTeX; figures should be provided in individual files. The manuscript text file should include the following parts, in order: a title page with author affiliations and contact information (the corresponding author should be identified with an asterisk); the sections required for each content type (see information for different content types) then References, Acknowledgements (optional), Author Contributions (Articles only), Competing Financial Interests statement, Figure Legends and Tables.

Microsoft Word — Nature Communications does not use a manuscript template for Word documents. The manuscript file should be formatted as double-spaced, single-column text without justification. Pages should be numbered using an Arabic numeral in the footer of each page. Standard fonts are recommended and the 'symbols' font should be used for representing Greek characters.

TeX/LaTeX — Authors submitting LaTeX files may use any of the standard class files such as article.cls, revtex.cls or amsart.cls. Non-standard fonts should be avoided; please use the default Computer Modern fonts. For the inclusion of graphics, we recommend graphicx.sty. Please use numerical references only for citations. There is no need to spend time visually formatting the manuscript: Nature Communications style will be imposed when the paper is prepared for publication. References should be included within the manuscript file itself as our system cannot accept BibTeX bibliography files. Authors who wish to use BibTeX to prepare their references should therefore copy the reference list from the .bbl file that BibTeX generates and paste it into the main manuscript .tex file (and delete the associated \bibliography and \bibliographystyle commands). As a final precaution, authors should ensure that the complete .tex file compiles successfully on their own system with no errors or warnings, before submission.

Chemical and biological nomenclature and abbreviations

Molecular structures are identified by bold, Arabic numerals assigned in order of presentation in the text. Once identified in the main text or a figure, compounds may be referred to by their name, by a defined abbreviation, or by the bold Arabic numeral (as long as the compound is referred to consistently as one of these three).

When possible, authors should refer to chemical compounds and biomolecules using systematic nomenclature, preferably using IUPAC. Standard chemical and biological abbreviations should be used. Unconventional or specialist abbreviations should be defined at their first occurrence in the text.

Gene nomenclature

Authors should use approved nomenclature for gene symbols, and use symbols rather than italicized full names (for example Ttn, not titin). Please consult the appropriate nomenclature databases for correct gene names and symbols. A useful resource is Entrez Gene. Approved human gene symbols are provided by HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC), e-mail: hgnc@genenames.org; see alsowww.genenames.org. Approved mouse symbols are provided by The Jackson Laboratory, e-mail:nomen@informatics.jax.org; see also www.informatics.jax.org/mgihome/nomen.

For proposed gene names that are not already approved, please submit the gene symbols to the appropriate nomenclature committees as soon as possible, as these must be deposited and approved before publication of an article.

Avoid listing multiple names of genes (or proteins) separated by a slash, as in 'Oct4/Pou5f1', as this is ambiguous (it could mean a ratio, a complex, alternative names or different subunits). Use one name throughout and include the other at first mention: 'Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1)'.

Methods

The Methods section should be written as concisely as possible but should contain all elements necessary to allow interpretation and replication of the results. This section should be subdivided by short headings referring to methods used and we encourage the inclusion of specific sections for statistics, reagents and animal models. Commercial suppliers of reagents or instrumentation should be identified only when the source is critical to the outcome of the experiments. Sources for kits should be identified.

Experimental protocols that describe the synthesis of new compounds should be included. The systematic name of the compound and its bold Arabic numeral are used as the heading for the experimental protocol. Thereafter, the compound is represented by its assigned bold numeral. Authors should describe the experimental protocol in detail, referring to amounts of reagents in parentheses, when possible (e.g. 1.03 g, 0.100 mmol). Standard abbreviations for reagents and solvents are encouraged. Safety hazards posed by reagents or protocols should be identified clearly. Isolated mass and percent yields should be reported at the end of each protocol.

Authors can deposit other step-by-step protocols used in their study to Protocol Exchange, an open resource maintained by NPG. Protocols deposited by the authors will be linked to the Methods section upon publication.

References

References should be numbered sequentially first throughout the text, then in tables, followed by figures and, finally, boxes; that is, references that only appear in tables, figures or boxes should be last in the reference list. Only one publication is given for each number. Only papers that have been published or accepted by a named publication or recognized preprint server should be in the numbered list. Published conference abstracts, numbered patents and research datasets that have been assigned a digital object identifier (DOI) may be included in the reference list. Grant details and acknowledgments are not permitted as numbered references. Footnotes are not used.

BibTeX bibliography files cannot be accepted. LaTeX submission must contain all references within the manuscript .tex file itself (see above TeX/LaTeX section for more details).

Nature Communications uses standard Nature referencing style. All authors should be included in reference lists unless there are six or more, in which case only the first author should be given, followed by 'et al.'. Authors should be listed last name first, followed by a comma and initials (followed by full stops) of given names. Article titles should be in Roman text, only the first word of the title should have an initial capital and the title should be written exactly as it appears in the work cited, ending with a full stop. Book titles should be given in italics and all words in the title should have initial capitals. Journal names are italicized and abbreviated (with full stops) according to common usage. Volume numbers and the subsequent comma appear in bold. The full page range should be given, where appropriate.

Titles of cited articles are required for Articles, Letters, Reviews and Progress articles. Example: Eigler, D. M. & Schweizer, E. K. Positioning single atoms with a scanning tunnelling microscope. Nature 344, 524-526 (1990).

For Commentaries or News & Views, titles of cited articles are not included. Example: Iijima, S. Nature 354, 56-58 (1991).

For book citations, the publisher and city of publication are required. Example: Jones, R. A. L. Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life Ch. 3 (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 2004).

Research datasets may be cited in the reference list if they have been assigned digital object identifiers (DOIs) and include authors, title, publisher (repository name), identifier (DOI expressed as a URL). Example:

Hao, Z., AghaKouchak, A., Nakhjiri, N. & Farahmand, A. Global Integrated Drought Monitoring and Prediction System (GIDMaPS) data sets. figshare http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.853801 (2014).

To cite a preprint, please follow this style: Babichev, S. A., Ries, J. & Lvovsky, A. I. Quantum scissors: teleportation of single-mode optical states by means of a nonlocal single photon. Preprint at http://arXiv.org/quant-ph/0208066 (2002).

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements should be brief and should not include effusive comments. Grant or contribution numbers may be acknowledged.

Author contributions

Nature Communications requires an author contributions statement as described in the Authorship section of our joint Editorial policies.

Competing financial interests

A competing financial interests statement is required for all content of the journal. This statement will be published at the end of all papers, whether or not a competing financial interest is reported.

Figure legends

Figure legends begin with a brief title sentence for the whole figure and continue with a short description of what is shown in each panel and the symbols used; methodological details should be kept to a minimum as much as possible. Each legend should total no more than 350 words. Text for figure legends should be provided in numerical order after the references.

Tables

Please submit tables at the end of your text document (in Word or TeX/LaTeX, as appropriate). Tables that include statistical analysis of data should describe their standards of error analysis and ranges in a table legend.

Equations

Equations and mathematical expressions should be provided in the main text of the paper. Equations that are referred to in the text are identified by parenthetical numbers, such as (1), and are referred to in the manuscript as "equation (1)".

General figure guidelines

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any figures or illustrations that are protected by copyright, including figures published elsewhere and pictures taken by professional photographers. The journal cannot publish images downloaded from the internet without appropriate permission.

Figures should be numbered separately with Arabic numerals in the order of occurrence in the text of the manuscript. One- or two-column format figures are required. When appropriate, figures should include error bars. A description of the statistical treatment of error analysis should be included in the figure legend. Please note that schemes are not used; sequences of chemical reactions or experimental procedures should be submitted as figures, with appropriate captions. A limited number of uncaptioned graphics depicting chemical structures — each labelled with their name, by a defined abbreviation, or by the bold Arabic numeral — may be included in a manuscript. Although suggestions can be made by the authors, the final decision regarding the positioning and grouping of such structures rests with the editorial team.

Figure lettering should be in a clear, sans-serif typeface (for example, Helvetica); if possible, the same typeface in approximately the same font size should be used for all figures in a paper. Use symbol font for Greek letters. All display items should be on a white background, and should avoid excessive boxing, unnecessary colour, spurious decorative effects (such as three-dimensional 'skyscraper' histograms) and highly pixelated computer drawings. The vertical axis of histograms should not be truncated to exaggerate small differences. Labelling must be of sufficient size and contrast to be readable, even after appropriate reduction. The thinnest lines in the final figure should be no smaller than one point wide. Reasonable requests to enlarge figures will be considered, but editors will make the final decision on figure size. Authors will see a proof of figures.

Figures divided into parts should be labelled with a lower-case bold a, b, and so on, in the same type size as used elsewhere in the figure. Lettering in figures should be in lower-case type, with only the first letter of each label capitalized. Units should have a single space between the number and the unit, and follow SI nomenclature (for example, ms rather than msec) or the nomenclature common to a particular field. Thousands should be separated by commas (1,000). Unusual units or abbreviations should be spelled out in full or defined in the legend. Scale bars should be used rather than magnification factors, with the length of the bar defined in the legend rather than on the bar itself. In legends, please use visual cues rather than verbal explanations such as "open red triangles".

Authors are encouraged to consider the needs of colourblind readers (a substantial minority of the male population) when choosing colours for figures. Many colourblind readers cannot interpret visuals that rely on discrimination of green and red, for example. Thus, we ask authors to recolour green-and-red heatmaps, graphs and schematics for which colours are chosen arbitrarily. Recolouring primary data, such as fluorescence or rainbow pseudo-coloured images, to colour-safe combinations such as green and magenta, turquoise and red, yellow and blue or other accessible colour palettes is strongly encouraged.

Unnecessary figures should be avoided: data presented in small tables or histograms, for instance, can generally be stated briefly in the text instead. Figures should not contain more than one panel unless the parts are logically connected; each panel of a multipart figure should be sized so that the whole figure can be reduced by the same amount and reproduced at the smallest size at which essential details are visible.

When a manuscript is accepted for publication, we will ask for high-resolution figure files, possibly in a different electronic format. This information will be included in the acceptance letter. See below for details of digital image production and submission.

Figures

Please read the digital images integrity and standards policy.

To assist with the peer review process, figures and tables may be included within the manuscript text. However, for publication, high-quality image files need to be prepared for each figure. When possible, we prefer to use original digital figures to ensure the highest-quality reproduction in the journal. For optimal results, prepare figures to fit the pdf page size (210 x 276 mm), and supply the figure in the format in which they were compiled. When creating and submitting digital files, please follow the guidelines below. Failure to do so, or to adhere to the following guidelines, can significantly delay publication of your work.

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any figures or illustrations that are protected by copyright, including figures published elsewhere and pictures taken by professional photographers. The journal cannot publish images downloaded from the internet without appropriate permission.

1. Line art, graphs, charts and schematics

All line art, graphs, charts and schematics should be supplied in vector format, such as Encapsulated PostScript (.EPS), Adobe Illustrator (.AI), or Portable Document Format (.PDF), and should be saved or exported as such directly from the application in which they were made. This allows us to restyle to our journal house style.

We prefer to work with Adobe Illustrator but can accept Word and PowerPoint files.

They should not be flattened, compressed, converted or saved as bitmaps, jpegs or other non-vector file types. If line-art figures cannot be supplied as vector files they should be supplied at 1,200 DPI and prepared to fit the page size.

2. Photographic and bitmapped images

All photographic and bitmapped images should be supplied in TIFF format at a minimum of 300 DPI and as close to the page size as possible. For final page size please use our column widths as a guide. A single column width measures 88 mm and a double column width measures 180 mm. In practice this means that the absolute width of single-column figures should be no less than 1,040 pixels wide and double-column figures should be no less than 2,080 pixels wide (excluding peripheral white space).

We can accept Word and PowerPoint files but please supply any placed images as separate tiffs, prepared as above. If preparing in Adobe Photoshop please type all text on separate text layers so that we can retype in our own house style. If this is not possible please supply two sets of figures - one with labelling for our reference, and one without labelling. Please make sure any scale bars or important markers are left on both sets.

Please supply colour photographic images in RGB colour mode.

Please do not scan laser printouts of figures and send them to us as digital files. The dot pattern on a laser print often creates a moiré pattern when scanned.

Figures that do not meet these standards will not reproduce well and may delay publication until we receive high-resolution images.

3. Chemical structures

Chemical structures should be produced using ChemDraw or a similar program. All chemical compounds must be assigned a bold, Arabic numeral in the order in which the compounds are presented in the manuscript text. Figures containing chemical structures should be submitted in a size appropriate for direct incorporation into the pdf page, according to the column widths listed above. Authors using ChemDraw should make use of the Nature Chemistry journal template or use the preferences below, submitting the final files at 100% as .cdx files. Creating molecules within or copying them into the template will ensure that most of our journal style points are followed. For more information, please also review the Nature Chemistry Chemical Style Guide.

Drawing settings: chain angle, 120° bond spacing, 18% of width; fixed length, 14.4 pt; bold width, 2.0 pt; line width, 0.6 pt; margin width 1.6 pt; hash spacing 2.5 pt.

Atom Label settings: font, Arial; size, 8 pt. "Show labels on Terminal Carbons" and "Hide Implicit Hydrogens" should be unchecked.

4. Stereo images

Stereo diagrams should be presented for divergent 'wall-eyed' viewing, with the two panels separated by ~5.5 cm. In the final accepted version of the manuscript, the stereo images should be submitted at their final page size.

Featured image

Authors of accepted papers are encouraged to submit images for consideration as an image of the week. Illustrations are selected for their scientific interest and aesthetic appeal. Please submit electronic files at acceptance and include a clear and concise legend explaining the image.

Supplementary Information

Any Supplementary Information should be submitted with the manuscript and will be sent to referees during peer review. We request that authors avoid "data not shown" statements and instead include data necessary to evaluate the claims of the paper as Supplementary Information. Supplementary Information is not copy-edited by Nature Communications after acceptance, so authors should ensure that it is clearly and succinctly presented, and that the style and terminology conform with the rest of the paper. The following guidelines detail the creation, citation and submission of Supplementary Information. Please note that modification of Supplementary Information after the paper is published requires a formal correction, so authors are encouraged to check their Supplementary Information carefully before submitting the final version.

Where there is Supplementary Information to be included as part of a paper published in Nature Communications, please follow these guidelines, or acceptance may be delayed.

  • Designate each item as Supplementary Table, Figure, Movie, Audio, Note, Data, Discussion, Equation or Methods, as appropriate. Each type of Supplementary Information should be continuously numbered (for example, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Table 2, Supplementary Movie 1, Supplementary Movie 2, Supplementary Data 1, Supplementary Data 2 and so on).
  • Please provide a title for Supplementary Tables and a title and a caption for Supplementary Figures. Please also include a title and caption for any Supplementary Movie, Audio or Data files in a cover letter or separate document. A Supplementary Note should be used only in consultation with the editors and for specific elements best presented in Supplementary Information, such as stand-alone descriptions related to methods (for example, algorithm description or compound synthesis and characterization).
  • We discourage deposition of references within the Supplementary Information as they will not be live links and will not contribute towards citation measures for the papers concerned. Authors who nevertheless wish to post a list of Supplementary References should ensure that the Supplementary Information is self-contained (it should not refer to the list of References in the main paper; any such papers should be duplicated in the list of Supplementary References) and that Supplementary References are numbered sequentially from 1.
  • Refer to each piece of Supplementary Information at the appropriate point(s) in the main article. Be sure to include the word "Supplementary" each time one is mentioned.
  • Use the following examples as a guide (note: abbreviate "Figure" as "Fig." except at the start of a sentence).
    "Table 1 provides a selected subset of the most active compounds. The entire list of 96 compounds can be found as Supplementary Table 1."
    "The biosynthetic pathway of l-ascorbic acid in animals involves intermediates of the d-glucuronic acid pathway (see Supplementary Fig. 2). Figure 2 shows..."
  • Figure files should be submitted as web-ready files through Nature Communications online submission system. Manuscripts will not be accepted for publication by Nature Communications until Supplementary Information is received.
  • Please submit the Supplementary Information as a single Word file, if possible, otherwise a single PDF. For separate data, audio and video files we can accept any of these formats: Adobe Acrobat file (.pdf), Audio Visual Interleave (.avi), Compressed Archive File (.zip), Encapsulated Postcript (.eps), Flash Movie (.swf), Graphics Interchange Format (.gif), HTML document (.html), JPEG image (.jpg), MPEG animation (.mpg), MS Excel spreadsheet (.xls, .xlsx), MS Power Point file (.ppt, .pptx), MS Word document (.doc, .docx), Plain ASCII text (.txt), PostScript (.ps), QuickTime movie (.mov), Rich Text Format (.rtf), Systems Biology Markup Language (.sbml, .xml, .owl), TAR archive file (.tar), TIFF image (.tif), Waveform audio file (.wav), WordPerfect document (.wpd).
  • File sizes should be as small as possible, with a maximum size of 30 MB, so that they can be downloaded quickly. The combined total size of all files must not exceed 150 MB. Remember to include a brief title and legend (incorporated into the file to appear near the image) as part of every figure submitted, and a title as part of every table.

Further queries about submission and preparation of Supplementary Information should be directed to the editor handling the manuscript.