Our editorial policies
Criteria for publication
Nature Protocols is a forum for the publication of proven protocols. Thus, we do not publish novel primary research and protocol authors must have used their method to generate data published in a peer-reviewed primary journal. Nevertheless, we appreciate that protocols are constantly evolving, so if the methodology has been improved on since the original publication, we ask authors to submit the latest version of the protocol and explain how this differs to the published version. We are interested in reviewers' views on both the technical merits of the work and its interest to a broad readership.
Informal review of presubmission enquiries
We send some presubmission enquiries for informal review to help ensure authors will only be asked to prepare full versions of protocols that are suitable for publication in Nature Protocols and would be of sufficient interest to our readers. At this stage, we are not asking reviewers to undertake a detailed review of the manuscript. For more information on the specific questions we ask at this stage, please see Writing your report.
The peer review process
All submitted manuscripts are read by the editorial staff. To save authors and referees time, we only send articles that meet our editorial criteria for formal peer review. Manuscripts judged to be of potential interest to our readers are sent for formal review, typically to three reviewers.
In addition to considering whether the protocol should be published in Nature Protocols, the reviewer is asked to provide feedback that will help improve the protocol such that it is more likely to be useful to scientists who might be performing this experiment for the first time. For more information on the specific questions we ask at this stage, please see Writing your report.
Confidentiality is very important to us. We ask all reviewers to abide by our confidentiality policy: all correspondence, information and material exchanged during manuscript review must be kept in the strictest confidence, both before and after publication. If you wish to seek advice from a colleague while reviewing a manuscript, you must receive explicit permission from the editor in advance of sharing a copy of the manuscript. In these instances, please be sure to also note the names of these colleagues in your comments to the editor when you submit your report.
Reviewing manuscripts will give you an exciting preview of work in progress, but to avoid breaching confidentiality, please wait until the paper you have reviewed has been published before citing its results in your own manuscript. If the authors have posted a preprint to an established preprint server, you may cite the preprint in advance of publication. Importantly, you should not use the results of the work you have reviewed in your own research before the work is published.
We keep reviewer identities confidential throughout the review process. However, reviewers who choose to do so can sign their report. This will reveal their identity to the authors and also to the other reviewers after each round of review, when all the reports are shared after the editorial decision is made (or prior to the decision if we are seeking reviewer input on their peers’ comments). There are pros and cons in revealing your identity: identified reviewers may find it more challenging to review subsequent versions of the manuscript, when reviewers are sometimes asked to comment on each other’s points; on the other hand, signing reports improves the transparency and accountability of the process.
We ask that you refrain from identifying yourself to authors by any means other than signing your review. We are firmly opposed to attempts by authors to determine reviewer identities, and it is our policy to neither confirm nor deny any such speculation; we encourage our reviewers to do likewise.