Content types

Primary research formats
Other formats

Primary research formats

An Article is a technical report of primary research data on a new technique that is likely to be influential. This format is not a review of technology, but its primary report in the literature. Articles include a detailed description of the method, including all the technical details necessary to its reproducibility, and the results of a validation study. In order to guarantee immediate practical relevance, Articles must show an application of the new method to an important biological question and demonstrate its advantage over existing approaches. Validation of the new method and demonstration of its superiority over existing techniques most often involve novel biologically relevant data. However since the focus is on the technology, providing significant new insight into a biological problem is not a requirement.

Articles begin with an unreferenced abstract (typically 150 words) and are divided into separate sections for Introduction, Results, Discussion and online Methods. Introduction and Discussion are brief and focused, the Results section usually contains a general description of the method followed by its validation, and the online Methods section provides all technical details necessary for the independent reproduction of the methodology, without referring to a chain of bibliographical references. The main text (excluding abstract, online Methods, references and figure legends) is 2,500 - 3500 words. Articles have no more than 6 display items (figures and tables). The Results and online Methods should be divided by topical subheadings; the Discussion may contain subheadings at the editors' discretion. As a guideline, Articles allow up to 40 references.

Articles include received/accepted dates. They may be accompanied by supplementary information. Articles are peer reviewed, and authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication.

A Brief Communication is a more concise format used typically to report a significant improvement to a tried-and-tested method, its modification and adaptation to an important original application, or an important new tool or resource of broad interest for the scientific community. This format typically does not exceed 3 printed pages. Brief Communications begin with a brief unreferenced abstract (3 sentences, no more than 70 words), which will appear on Medline. The title is limited to 10 words (or 90 characters). The main text is typically 1,000-1,500 words, including the abstract and contains no headings with the exception of a single heading for Methods to point readers to the online Methods section providing all technical details necessary for the independent reproduction of the methodology. Brief Communications normally have no more than 2 display items, although this may be flexible at the discretion of the editor, provided the page limit is observed. As a guideline, Brief Communications allow up to 20 references, and article titles are omitted from the reference list.

Brief Communications include received/accepted dates. They may be accompanied by supplementary information. Brief Communications are peer reviewed, and authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication.

An Analysis article reports comprehensive comparative analyses of technologies, methods or reagents of key importance for a field of research, leading to important practical conclusions about their performances. Analysis articles may also report new analysis of existing large datasets that lead to a novel, exciting or arresting conclusion. The main text (excluding abstract, online Methods, references and figure legends) is approximately 3,000 words. The abstract is typically 100-150 words, unreferenced. Analyses have no more than 6 display items (figures and/or tables). An introduction (without heading) is followed by sections headed Results, Discussion and online Methods. The Results and online Methods should be divided by topical subheadings; the Discussion does not contain subheadings. As a guideline, Analyses allow up to 50 references.

Analyses include received/accepted dates. They may be accompanied by supplementary information. Resources are peer reviewed, and authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication.

A Resource presents a large data set (such as a comprehensive list of proteins in an organelle or tissue, a genome-wide antibody library, coordinated analysis of cells or reagents by several different laboratories) of broad utility, interest and significance to the community. The main text (excluding abstract, online Methods, references and figure legends) is approximately 3,000 words. The abstract is typically 100-150 words, unreferenced. Resources have no more than 6 display items (figures and/or tables). An introduction (without heading) is followed by sections headed Results, Discussion and online Methods. The Results and online Methods should be divided by topical subheadings; the Discussion does not contain subheadings. As a guideline, Resources allow up to 50 references.

Resources include received/accepted dates. They may be accompanied by supplementary information. Resources are peer reviewed, and authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication.

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Other formats

Correspondence is a flexible format providing readers with the opportunity to comment on papers published in a previous issue of the journal, to present resources of broad interest to Nature Methods readership (such as databases), or to describe a further methodological development to a method recently published in Nature Methods by the same authors. A Correspondence may describe primary research data, but is not intended for full presentation of data. Correspondence should never be more than one printed page and one figure. The total length is typically 250-450 words. As a guideline, Correspondences or their Replies allow up to 6 references, and article titles are omitted from the reference list. Titles for correspondence are supplied by the editors.

In cases where a correspondence is critical of a previous research paper, the authors are normally given the option of publishing a brief reply. Criticism of opinions or other secondary matter does not involve an automatic right of reply.

Authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication. Refutations are always peer reviewed. Other types of correspondence may be peer reviewed at the editors' discretion.

News and Views are by prior arrangement only. They may be linked to articles in Nature Methods, or they may focus on papers of exceptional significance that are published elsewhere. Unsolicited contributions will not normally be considered, although prospective authors are welcome to make proposals.

News and Views are not peer reviewed. Authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication.

A Review is an authoritative, balanced and scholarly survey of methodological approaches to a technology or a specific aspect of a technology. These Reviews should have a strong functional component, highlight practical questions that are likely to arise for researchers undertaking the application of the technology, and provide information to guide their choices. The requirement for balance need not prevent authors from proposing a specific viewpoint, but authors must also present alternative approaches. Reviews are normally 3,000-4,000 words, and illustrations are strongly encouraged. As a guideline, Reviews allow up to 100 references. Citations should be selective and, in the case of particularly important studies (≤ 10% of all the references), we encourage authors to provide short annotations explaining why these are key contributions. The scope of a Review should be broad enough that it is not dominated by the work of a single laboratory, and particularly not by the authors' own work.

Review authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication. Reviews include received/accepted dates. Reviews are always peer reviewed to ensure factual accuracy, appropriate citations and scholarly balance.

Perspective is a format for scholarly reviews and discussions of the primary research literature that do not meet the criteria for a Review-either because the scope is too narrow, or because the author is advocating a controversial position or a speculative hypothesis or discussing work primarily from one group. Perspectives can also accommodate two side-by-side reviews advocating opposite sides of a research controversy. The text should not normally exceed 3,000 words and may be much shorter. As a guideline, Perspectives allow up to 50 references.

The related format Historical Perspective is a more technical account of a particular scientific development. Like other Perspectives, and in contrast to Historical Commentary, Historical Perspectives are scholarly reviews, including citation of key references, aiming to present a balanced account of the historical events, not merely personal opinions or reminiscences.

Perspective authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication and include received/accepted dates. Perspectives are always peer reviewed.

Commentary is a very flexible format; Commentaries may be on policy, science and society or purely scientific issues. The main criteria are that they should be of immediate interest to a broad readership and should be written in an accessible, non-technical style. Their length is typically 1-4 pages, although some may be longer. Because the content is variable, the format is also flexible. Commentaries do not normally contain primary research data, although they may present 'sociological' data (funding trends, demographics, bibliographic data, etc.). As a guideline, Commentaries allow up to 25 references, and article titles are omitted from the reference list.

The related format Historical Commentary is a journalistic treatment of the history of a particular discovery or technical development. These pieces may be a personal account by one of the participants or may present strong personal opinions. This format does not necessarily seek scholarly balance, and it should be journalistic and accessible rather than scholarly in style.

Commentary authors must provide a competing financial interests statement before publication. Commentaries may be peer reviewed at the editors' discretion.

Application Notes are advertorials which allow product manufacturers to present interesting new products or innovative applications of a laboratory technology. Application Notes are not peer-reviewed and are marked as an advertisement. Authors of Application Notes must be members of the manufacturer's organization. If independent researchers contribute data, a signed letter of permission must accompany the submission.

Application Notes are published at the editor's discretion. Product manufacturers interested in contributing an Application Note should visit the Application Note section of Nature Methods website (http://www.nature.com/naturemethods) or contact their advertising representative.

The guide for authors is available in PDF format.

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