Editorial and publishing policies
- Submission policies
- Guest Edited Collections
- Author responsibilities
- Licence agreement and author copyright
- Embargo policy and press release
- Use of experimental animals and human subjects
- Clinical trials
- Competing interests
- Availability of materials and data
- Digital image integrity and standards
- Biosecurity concerns
- Corrections and retractions
- Duplicate publication
- Confidentiality and pre-publicity
When you submit a manuscript to Scientific Reports, we will take it to imply that the manuscript has not already been published or submitted elsewhere. If similar or related work has been published or submitted elsewhere, then you must provide a copy with the submitted manuscript. You may not submit your manuscript elsewhere while it is under consideration at Scientific Reports.
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. Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
If the manuscript includes personal communications, please provide a written statement of permission from any person who is quoted. Permission by email is acceptable.
We reserve the right to reject a paper even after it has been accepted if it becomes apparent that there are serious problems with its scientific content, or our publishing policies have been violated.
If your paper has been previously submitted to another Nature Research journal, you can use our automated manuscript transfer service to submit the paper to Scientific Reports. Alternatively, you may choose to submit afresh, in which case you should not use the automated transfer link, and your paper will be evaluated without reference to the previous decision process.
Scientific Reports is editorially independent, and Editorial Board Members make decisions independently from other Nature Research journals. It is for authors alone to decide where to submit their manuscripts. For papers that satisfy the scope of more than one Nature Research journal, the choice of which journal to submit to first lies with the authors.
Guest Edited Collections
Guest Edited Collections of original primary research articles are published open access and online only.
All manuscripts submitted to a Collection are assessed according to the standard Scientific Reports editorial criteria and are subject to all standard journal policies. If accepted for publication, an article processing charge applies (with standard waiver policy).
Manuscripts submitted to an open Guest Edited Collection may be considered unsuitable for inclusion, in particular if they fall outside the scope of the Collection. In such cases, the authors will be notified by the editorial office and their manuscript can be considered as a regular Scientific Reports submission.
Collection Guest Editors are members of the Scientific Reports Editorial Board. They are involved in soliciting papers, in writing a short description of the Collection and an introductory Editorial. In addition, they may manage some or all of the submissions to the Collection through the peer review process, as long as Scientific Reports’ standard competing interests conditions are met.
Scientific Reports’ in-house editors reserve the right to assume responsibility for management of a Collection at any stage.
Being an author
Scientific Reports does not require all authors of a research paper to sign the cover letter upon submission, nor do they impose an order on the list of authors. Submission to Scientific Reports is taken by the publication to mean that all the listed authors have agreed to all of the contents. The corresponding (submitting) author is responsible for having ensured that this agreement has been reached, and for managing all communication between the publication and all co-authors, before and after publication.
Responsibilities of senior team members on multi-group collaborations
Scientific Reports assumes that at least one member of each collaboration, usually the most senior member of each submitting group or team, has accepted responsibility for the contributions to the manuscript from that team. This responsibility includes, but is not limited to: (1) ensuring that original data upon which the submission is based is preserved and retrievable for reanalysis; (2) approving data presentation as representative of the original data; and (3) foreseeing and minimizing obstacles to the sharing of data, materials, algorithms or reagents described in the work.
Inclusion of a consortium in the author list indicates that all members of the consortium have contributed sufficiently to the work to justify authorship status. The consortium name ONLY – not the names of each consortium member – should be included in the main author list in the manuscript (when submitting a manuscript, the consortium name should also be entered as an author in the online submission system, together with the contact details of a nominated consortia representative). In a separate section at the end of the manuscript (after the ‘References’ section) under the heading ‘Consortium’, the names of each consortium member should be listed. Affiliations of consortium members should be indicated by superscript numbers (as per the main author list); consortium affiliations continue numerically from the main author list (and do not duplicate affiliations). Names of individual authors should appear either in the main author list OR in the separate list of consortium members, not in both. See this paper for an example.
If not all members of the consortium have contributed sufficiently to the work to justify authorship status, the name of the consortium should not appear in the main author list. The names of individual consortium members who are authors should appear in the main author list; their consortium membership can be indicated in their affiliation. Non-author consortium members and/or the consortium itself can be acknowledged in the ‘Acknowledgements’ section.
Author contributions statements
Authors are required to include a statement of responsibility in the manuscript that specifies the contribution of every author. The level of detail varies; some disciplines produce manuscripts that comprise discrete efforts readily articulated in detail, whereas other fields operate as group efforts at all stages. Scientific Reports allows one set of up to six co-authors to be specified as having contributed equally to the work or having jointly supervised the work. Other equal contributions are best described in author contributions statements. Corresponding authors have specific responsibilities (described below) and are usually limited to three.
For example, "AB and CD wrote the main manuscript text and EF prepared figures 1–3. All authors reviewed the manuscript."
Corresponding author – prepublication responsibilities
The corresponding (submitting) author is solely responsible for communicating with Scientific Reports and for managing communication between co-authors. Before submission, the corresponding author ensures that all authors are included in the author list, its order has been agreed by all authors, and that all authors are aware that the paper was submitted.
After acceptance, the proof is sent to the corresponding author, who deals with Scientific Reports on the behalf of all co-authors; Scientific Reports will not necessarily correct errors after publication if they result from errors that were present on a proof that was not shown to co-authors before publication. The corresponding author is responsible for the accuracy of all content in the proof, in particular that names of co-authors are present and correctly spelled, and that addresses and affiliations are current.
Corresponding author – responsibilities after publication
Scientific Reports regards the corresponding author as the point of contact for queries about the published paper. It is this author's responsibility to inform all co-authors of matters arising and to ensure such matters are dealt with promptly. This author does not have to be the senior author of the paper or the author who actually supplies materials; this author's role is to ensure enquiries are answered promptly on behalf of all the co-authors. The name and email address of this author (on large collaborations there may be two) is published in the paper.
Correcting the record
Authors of published material have a responsibility to inform Scientific Reports promptly if they become aware of any part that requires correcting.
A confidential process
Scientific Reports treats the submitted manuscript and all communication with authors and referees as confidential. Authors must also treat communication with Scientific Reports as confidential: correspondence with Scientific Reports, referee reports and other confidential material must not be posted on any website or otherwise publicized without prior permission from the Scientific Reports publishing team, regardless of whether or not the submission is eventually published. Our policies about posting preprints and postprints, and about previous communication of the work at conferences or as part of a personal blog or of an academic thesis, are described in the Confidentiality section.
Authors are welcome to suggest suitable independent referees when they submit their manuscript, but these suggestions may not be used by Scientific Reports. Authors may also request that Scientific Reports excludes a few (usually not more than two) individuals or laboratories. Scientific Reports sympathetically considers such exclusion requests and usually honours them, but the decision of the Editorial Board Member on the choice of referees is final.
License agreement and author copyright
Scientific Reports does not require authors to assign copyright of their published original research papers to the journal. Articles are published under a CC BY license (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License). The CC BY license allows for maximum dissemination and re-use of open access materials and is preferred by many research funding bodies. Under this license users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit) and remix (adapt) the contribution including for commercial purposes, providing they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor (read full legal code).
Visit our open research site for more information about Creative Commons licensing.
Embargo policy and press releases
Communication with the media
Material submitted to Scientific Reports should not be discussed with the media, except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media once an embargo date has been set.
Papers that are deemed especially newsworthy may be press released, to a registered list, by our press office. Journalists are encouraged to read the full version of any papers they wish to cover, and are given the names and contact information of corresponding authors. Authors may therefore receive calls or emails from the media during this time; we encourage them to cooperate with journalists so that media coverage of their work is accurate and balanced. Authors whose papers are scheduled for publication may also arrange their own publicity (for instance through their institutional press offices), but they must adhere to our media embargo and are advised to coordinate their own publicity with our press office.
The media embargo serves scientists, authors, journalists and the public. Our policy is to release information about our content in a way that provides fair and equal access to the media, allowing it to provide informed comment based on the complete and final version of the paper that is to be published. Authors and their institutions' press offices are able then to interact with the media ahead of publication, and benefit from the subsequent coverage.
Communication between scientists
Scientific Reports does not wish to hinder communication between scientists. For that reason, different embargo guidelines apply to work that has been discussed at a conference or displayed on a preprint server and picked up by the media as a result. (Neither conference presentations nor posting on recognized preprint servers constitute prior publication.)
Our guidelines for authors and potential authors in such circumstances are clear-cut in principle: communicate with other researchers as much as you wish, whether on a recognised community preprint server, by discussion at scientific meetings (publication of abstracts in conference proceedings is allowed), in an academic thesis, or by online collaborative sites such as wikis; but do not encourage premature publication by discussion with the press (beyond a formal presentation, if at a conference).
This advice may jar with those (including most researchers and all journalists) who see the freedom of information as a good thing, but it embodies a longer-term view: that publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the appropriate culmination of any piece of original research, and an essential prerequisite for public discussion.
If further clarification is required, please contact the press office by email.
Use of experimental animals, and human participants
For articles in Scientific Reports reporting experiments on live vertebrates and/or higher invertebrates, the methods section must include a statement: (i) identifying the institutional and/or licensing committee approving the experiments, including any relevant details; (ii) confirming that all experiments were performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations.
For research involving human participants, authors must identify the committee that approved the research, confirm that all research was performed in accordance with relevant guidelines/regulations, and include in their manuscript a statement confirming that informed consent was obtained from all participants and/or their legal guardians. For articles describing human transplantation studies, extra information must be provided (see below).
Human participants' names and other HIPAA identifiers must be removed from all sections of the manuscript, including supplementary information. Written informed consent must be obtained for the publication of any other information that could lead to identification of a participant (e.g. clinical images and videos). A statement confirming that informed consent to publish identifying information/images was obtained must be included in the methods section. Identifying images/video/details which authors do not have specific permission to use must be removed from the manuscript. Please note that the use of coloured bars/shapes to obscure the eyes/facial region of study participants is NOT an acceptable means of anonymisation.
Human transplantation studies
Scientific Reports will not process manuscripts describing research that involves organs/tissues procured from prisoners. In addition to the requirements described above, authors of manuscripts describing human transplantation research must include a statement in their manuscript attesting that no organs/tissues were procured from prisoners. Authors must also provide details of the institution(s)/clinic(s)/department(s) via which all organs/tissues were procured, while taking care to not violate privacy of donors (see 'Identifying information' above).
Scientific Reports may request documentation related to informed consent, ethics approval and donor organ/tissue source, including approved translations when original documents are in a language other than English. Failure to provide verifiable documentation may result in withdrawal of a manuscript.
Scientific Reports will consider manuscripts reporting results from well-conducted clinical trials.
We require all clinical trials to be registered in a publically accessible primary register that participates in the WHO International Clinical Trial Registry Platform. We use the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of a clinical trial.
Clinical trial registration numbers and date of registration should be added to all relevant manuscripts. These details will be published with the manuscript.
Manuscripts reporting results of a clinical trial must conform to CONSORT 2010 guidelines. Authors of randomized controlled trials should submit a completed CONSORT checklist, available at www.consort-statement.org.
Manuscripts reporting clinical trials should be submitted with their protocols as a separate document.
Articles reporting meta-analyses must be accompanied by a completed PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) checklist and flow diagram, available at www.prisma-statement.org.
Competing interests policy
In the interests of transparency and to help readers to form their own judgements of potential bias, authors must declare any competing financial and/or non-financial interests in relation to the work described.
Definition of a competing interest
For the purposes of this policy, competing interests are defined as financial and non-financial interests that could directly undermine, or be perceived to undermine, the objectivity, integrity and value of a publication, through a potential influence on the judgements and actions of authors with regard to objective data presentation, analysis and interpretation.
Financial competing interests include any of the following:
Funding: Research support (including salaries, equipment, supplies, and other expenses) by organizations that may gain or lose financially through this publication. A specific role for the funder in the conceptualization, design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript, should be disclosed.
Employment: Recent (while engaged in the research project), present or anticipated employment by any organization that may gain or lose financially through this publication.
Personal financial interests: Stocks or shares in companies that may gain or lose financially through publication; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration (including reimbursements for attending symposia) from organizations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications (awarded or pending) filed by the authors or their institutions whose value may be affected by publication. For patents and patent applications, disclosure of the following information is requested: patent applicant (whether author or institution), name of inventor(s), application number, status of application, specific aspect of manuscript covered in patent application.
It is difficult to specify a threshold at which a financial interest become significant, but note that many US universities require faculty members to disclose interests exceeding $10,000 or 5% equity in a company (see, for example, B. Lo et al. New Engl. J. Med. 343, 1616-1620; 2000). Any such figure is necessarily arbitrary, so we offer as one possible practical alternative guideline: "Any undeclared competing financial interests that could embarrass you were they to become publicly known after your work was published."
We do not consider diversified mutual funds or investment trusts to constitute a competing financial interest.
Non-financial competing interests:
Non-financial competing interests can take different forms, including personal or professional relations with organizations and individuals. We would encourage authors and referees to declare any unpaid roles or relationships that might have a bearing on the publication process. Examples of non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):
- Unpaid membership in a government or non-governmental organization
- Unpaid membership in an advocacy or lobbying organization
- Unpaid advisory position in a commercial organization
- Writing or consulting for an educational company
- Acting as an expert witness
Competing interests statement format guidelines
The statement included in the article file must be explicit and unambiguous, describing any potential competing interest (or lack thereof) for EACH contributing author.
Examples of declarations are:
The author(s) declare no competing interests.
Dr X's work has been funded by A. He has received compensation as a member of the scientific advisory board of B and owns stock in the company. He also has consulted for C and received compensation. Dr Y and Dr Z declare no potential conflict of interest.
Application to authors
The corresponding author is responsible for submitting a competing interests statement on behalf of all authors of the paper. This statement must be included in the submitted article file, following the 'Author Contributions' section in 'Additional Information', under the heading 'Competing interests'. The corresponding author will also be required to indicate the existence of a competing interest within the submission system.
We recognize that some authors may be bound by confidentiality agreements. In such cases the publishing team will investigate further and may at their discretion invite the authors to state in the online version, in place of itemized disclosure: "The authors declare that they are bound by confidentiality agreements that prevent them from disclosing their financial interests in this work."
We do not require authors to state the monetary value of their financial interests.
Application to peer-reviewers
Scientific Reports invites peer-reviewers to exclude themselves in cases where there is a significant conflict of interest, financial or otherwise. However, just as financial interests need not invalidate the conclusions of an article, nor do they automatically disqualify an individual from evaluating it. We ask peer-reviewers to inform the editors of any related interests, including financial interests as defined above, that might be perceived as relevant. Editors will consider these statements when weighing peer-reviewers' recommendations.
Application to editors
All Nature Research journal editorial staff are required to declare to their employer any interests — financial or otherwise — that might influence, or be perceived to influence, their editorial practices. Failure to do so is a disciplinary offence.
Availability of materials and data
An inherent principle of publication is that others should be able to replicate and build upon the authors' published claims. Therefore, a condition of publication in Scientific Reports is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to readers without undue qualifications in material transfer agreements. Any restrictions on the availability of materials or information must be disclosed to the publishing team at the time of submission. Any restrictions must also be disclosed in the submitted manuscript, including details of how readers can obtain materials and information. If materials are to be distributed by a for-profit company, this must be stated in the paper.
Supporting data must be made available to Editorial Board Members and referees at the time of submission for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript. Referees may be asked to comment on the terms of access to materials, methods and/or data sets; Scientific Reports reserves the right to refuse publication in cases where authors do not provide adequate assurances that they can comply with the publication's requirements for sharing materials.
After publication, readers who encounter refusal by the authors to comply with these policies should contact the Scientific Reports publishing team. In cases where we are unable to resolve a complaint, the matter may be referred to the authors' funding institution and/or a formal statement of correction may be published, attached online to the publication, stating that readers have been unable to obtain necessary materials to replicate the findings.
Details about how to share some specific materials, data and methods can be found in the sections below. The preferred way to share large datasets is via public repositories. Some of these repositories offer authors the option to host data associated with a manuscript confidentially, and provide anonymous access to referees before public release. These repositories coordinate public release of the data with the journal's publication date. This option should be used when possible, but it is the authors' responsibility to communicate with the repository to ensure that public release is made promptly on the publication date. Any supporting datasets for which there is no public repository must be made available as Supplementary Information files that will be freely accessible on nature.com upon publication. In cases where it is technically impossible for such files to be provided to the journal, the authors must make the data available to Editorial Board Members and referees at submission, and directly upon request to any reader on and after the publication date, the authors providing a URL or other unique identifier in the manuscript.
Support for research data sharing
- Contacting Springer Nature’s Research Data Support Helpdesk for advice. The helpdesk provides free advice on research data policies of funders, institutions and journals and on finding research data repositories.
- Finding a suitable data repository for your data from our recommend repository list. Where they are available, community-specific repositories are preferred. Unstructured repositories are suitable alternatives if no structured public repositories exist.
- Uploading your data to Springer Nature’s Research Data Support service
Data availability statement format guidelines
The statement should be provided as a separate section (titled 'Data Availability') at the end of the main text, before the 'References' section. Data availability statements should include, where applicable, accession codes, other unique identifiers and associated web links for publicly available datasets, and any conditions for access of non-publicly available datasets. Where figure source data are provided, statements confirming this should be included in data availability statements. Depending on the data described in the manuscript, data availability statements commonly take one of the following forms, or can be a composite of the statements below:
• The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the [NAME] repository, [PERSISTENT WEB LINK TO DATASETS].
• The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
• All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article (and its Supplementary Information files).
• The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due to [REASON(S) WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC] but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
• No datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.
• The data that support the findings of this study are available from [THIRD PARTY NAME] but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of [THIRD PARTY NAME].
Sharing biological materials
A condition of publication in Scientific Reports is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to others without preconditions.
For materials such as mutant strains and cell lines, Scientific Reports require authors to use established public repositories when one exists (for example, Jackson Laboratory, the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA), the European Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Program (EUCOMM), the Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP), Addgene, RIKEN Bioresource Centre, the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Centers, American Type Culture Collection (Americas), American Type Culture Collection (Asia/Europe), UK Stem Cell Bank), and provide accession numbers in the manuscript.
The distribution of human cell lines used in research should not be hindered by restrictions from donors. Researchers developing cell lines must investigate and disclose any restrictions associated with the human or other tissue they are using, particularly if someone else collected the samples, if the samples come from multiple clinical sources or if they come from several legal jurisdictions. If a scientist needs to create cell lines that might be used for as-yet-unforeseen purposes, only tissue with no restrictions should be used. Authors of papers that involve consent forms must, at the time of submitting the manuscript, make Scientific Reports aware of any limits that result from those forms.
Every manuscript that contains flow cytometry experiments should identify in the methods section all antibody reagents by clone identifier, vendor and fluorochrome. Authors should identify the instrument and software used to collect and analyse experimental data. Axes labels for plots or graphs depicting flow cytometry data should state the marker (for example, CD4) and the axes scales (log or linear) should be clearly visible. Authors should provide numerical analysis for the number of cells analysed and the absolute numbers or percentages (with statistics stated in either the text, legend or in a supplementary table) of the relevant cell population(s) within post-sort fractions. Hints for good general practice in the description of flow cytometry experiments can be found in the MIFlowCyt Standards section of SourceForge.
For papers describing a new cell population or for which a given sorted cell population is critical to the main message imparted by the new work, authors should describe in a supplementary figure or two the full gating strategy used for the experiments described in the manuscript. A figure depicting the 'gates' used to identify sorted subsets is useful and should be provided to the referees on request. These data would include preliminary forward and side scatter gates of the starting cell population, indicating where boundaries between 'positive' and 'negative' staining cell populations are defined. For preliminary sorts that use 'cocktails' of antibodies to exclude certain cell populations, for example, lineage-minus (Lin-), the antibodies and fluorochromes that are contained in the 'cocktail' need to be specified for the 'dump' channel.
A condition of publication in Scientific Reports is that authors make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to others without preconditions.
Datasets must be made freely available to readers from the date of publication, and must be provided to Editorial Board Members and referees at submission, for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript.
For the following types of dataset, submission to a community-endorsed, public repository is mandatory. Accession numbers must be provided in the paper. Examples of appropriate public repositories are listed below.
DNA, RNA and protein sequences
Protein sequences: UniProt
Data for human subjects should be submitted to a public repository with appropriate access control (see above). Any restrictions on data access for sensitive data (e.g. electronic medical records, forensic data, and personal data from vulnerable populations) require an explanation of the nature of and reasons for the restrictions, and details of the conditions under which the data can be accessed or reused.
This policy includes even short stretches of novel sequence information such as epitopes, functional domains, genetic markers, or haplotypes. Short novel sequences must include surrounding sequence information to provide context.
The sequences of all RNAi, antisense and morpholino probes must be included in the paper or deposited in a public database, with the accession number quoted. When an unpublished library is included in the paper, at minimum the sequences of the probes central to the conclusions of the paper must be presented.
Authors of papers describing structures of biological macromolecules must provide an official validation report from the Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB). Atomic coordinates and related experimental data (structure factor amplitudes/intensities for crystal structures, or restraints for NMR structures) must be provided when requested by Editorial Board Members for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript, if they are not already freely accessible in a publicly available and recognized database (e.g. Protein DataBank, UniProt, Nucleic Acid Database or Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank). Electron microscopy-derived density maps and coordinate data must be deposited in the Electron Microscopy Data Bank (EMDB). Accessibility in repositories must be designated 'for immediate release on publication'.
Where there is no public repository, and if the datasets are too large to submit to the journal online, authors should provide two separate copies of these data to the publishing team in an appropriate format (for example, CD or DVD) for the purposes of peer review.
Data must be MIAME-compliant, as described at the FGED website specifying microarray standards.
Crystallographic data for small molecules
Manuscripts reporting new three-dimensional structures of small molecules from crystallographic analysis should include a .cif file and a structural figure with probability ellipsoids for publication as Supplementary Information. These files must have been checked using the IUCR's CheckCIF routine, and a PDF copy of the output must be included at submission, together with a justification for any alerts reported. Crystallographic data for small molecules should be submitted to the Cambridge Structural Database and the deposition number referenced appropriately in the manuscript. Full access must be provided on publication.
Authors reporting results generated using the technique of mass spectrometry-based proteomics should deposit the raw MS/MS data supporting the conclusions in their paper in a public repository.
In addition to the above-mentioned mandatory requirements for data submission to community-endorsed public databases, Scientific Reports strongly recommends deposition of other types of datasets into appropriate public repositories that are at an earlier stage of development. Examples of such repositories that facilitate sharing large datasets, some of which can offer the option of anonymous referee access to data before publication, include:
For protein interaction data: IMEx consortium of databases including DIP, IntAct and MINT
For cryoelectron micrographs: EM Data Bank (unified data resource for cryo-EM)
For chemical compound screening and assay data: PubChem
Earth sciences databases recommended by Scientific Reports include Pangaea, the publishing network for geoscientific and environmental data; PetDB, for geochemical data of rocks on the ocean floor; and GEOROC, geochemistry of rocks from the oceans and continents.
Biology: ITIS (taxonomy); NCBI Taxonomy; Species 2000; National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis; Dryad.
Digital image integrity and standards
High-resolution images are not required at initial submission. When a paper is accepted, the publishing team will request high-resolution files suitable for publication.
All digitized images submitted with the final revision of the manuscript should be 300 DPI if possible.
A certain degree of image processing is acceptable for publication (and for some experiments, fields and techniques is unavoidable), but the final image must correctly represent the original data and conform to community standards. The guidelines below will aid in accurate data presentation at the image processing level; authors must also take care to exercise prudence during data acquisition, where misrepresentation must equally be avoided. Manuscripts should include an 'equipment and settings' section with their methods that describes for each figure the pertinent instrument settings, acquisition conditions and processing changes, as described in this guide.
- Authors should list all image acquisition tools and image processing software packages used. Authors should document key image-gathering settings and processing manipulations in the methods.
- Images gathered at different times or from different locations should not be combined into a single image, unless it is stated that the resultant image is a product of time-averaged data or a time-lapse sequence. If juxtaposing images is essential, the borders should be clearly demarcated in the figure and described in the legend.
- The use of touch-up tools, such as cloning and healing tools in Photoshop, or any feature that deliberately obscures manipulations, is to be avoided.
- Processing (such as changing brightness and contrast) is appropriate only when it is applied equally across the entire image and is applied equally to controls. Contrast should not be adjusted so that data disappear. Excessive manipulations, such as processing to emphasize one region in the image at the expense of others (e.g. through the use of a biased choice of threshold settings), is inappropriate, as is emphasizing experimental data relative to the control.
When submitting revised final figures upon conditional acceptance, authors may be asked to submit original, unprocessed images.
Electrophoretic gels and blots
Positive and negative controls, as well as molecular size markers, should be included on each gel and blot – either in the main figure or an expanded data supplementary figure. For previously characterized antibodies, a citation must be provided. For antibodies less well characterized in the system under study, a detailed characterization that demonstrates not only the specificity of the antibody, but also the range of reactivity of the reagent in the assay, should be published as Supplementary Information.
The display of cropped gels and blots in the main paper is encouraged if it improves the clarity and conciseness of the presentation. In such cases, the cropping must be mentioned in the figure legend and the supplementary information should include full-length gels and blots wherever possible. These uncropped images should be labeled as in the main text and placed in a single supplementary figure. The manuscript's figure legends should state that 'full-length blots/gels are presented in Supplementary Figure X.'
- Quantitative comparisons between samples on different gels/blots are discouraged; if this is unavoidable, the figure legend must state that the samples derive from the same experiment and that gels/blots were processed in parallel. Vertically sliced images that juxtapose lanes that were non-adjacent in the gel must have a clear separation or a black line delineating the boundary between the gels. Loading controls must be run on the same blot.
- Cropped gels in the paper must retain important bands.
- Cropped blots in the body of the paper should retain at least six band widths above and below the band.
- High-contrast gels and blots are discouraged, as overexposure may mask additional bands. Authors should strive for exposures with gray backgrounds. Multiple exposures should be presented in Supplementary Information if high contrast is unavoidable. Immunoblots should be surrounded by a black line to indicate the borders of the blot, if the background is faint.
- For quantitative comparisons, appropriate reagents, controls and imaging methods with linear signal ranges should be used.
Authors should be prepared to supply Scientific Reports with original data on request, at the resolution collected, from which their images were generated. Cells from multiple fields should not be juxtaposed in a single field; instead multiple supporting fields of cells should be shown as Supplementary Information.
Adjustments should be applied to the entire image. Threshold manipulation, expansion or contraction of signal ranges and the altering of high signals should be avoided. If 'pseudo-colouring' and nonlinear adjustment (e.g. 'gamma changes') are used, this must be disclosed. Adjustments of individual colour channels are sometimes necessary on 'merged' images, but this should be noted in the figure legend.
We encourage inclusion of the following with the final revised version of the manuscript for publication:
- In the methods, specify the type of equipment (microscopes/objective lenses, cameras, detectors, filter model and batch number) and acquisition software used. Although we appreciate that there is some variation between instruments, equipment settings for critical measurements should also be listed.
- An 'equipment and settings' section within the methods should list for each image: acquisition information, including time and space resolution data (xyzt and pixel dimensions); image bit depth; experimental conditions such as temperature and imaging medium; and fluorochromes (excitation and emission wavelengths or ranges, filters, dichroic beamsplitters, if any).
- The display lookup table (LUT) and the quantitative map between the LUT and the bitmap should be provided, especially when rainbow pseudocolor is used. If the LUT is linear and covers the full range of the data, that should be stated.
- Processing software should be named and manipulations indicated (such as type of deconvolution, three-dimensional reconstructions, surface and volume rendering, 'gamma changes', filtering, thresholding and projection).
- Authors should state the measured resolution at which an image was acquired and any downstream processing or averaging that enhances the resolution of the image.
Policy on biosecurity
Scientific Reports' Editorial Board Members may seek advice from the Editorial Advisory Panel and the in-house publishing team about any aspect of a submitted manuscript that raises concerns. These may include, for example, ethical issues or issues of data or materials access. Very occasionally, concerns may also relate to the implications to society of publishing a paper, including threats to security. In such circumstances, advice will usually be sought simultaneously with the technical peer-review process.
The threat posed by bioweapons raises the unusual need to assess the balance of risk and benefit in publication. Editorial Board Members may not be best qualified to make such judgments unassisted, and so we reserve the right to take expert advice in cases where we believe that concerns may arise. We recognize the widespread view that openness in science helps to alert society to potential threats and to defend against them, and we anticipate that only very rarely (if at all) will the risks be perceived as outweighing the benefits of publishing a paper that has otherwise been deemed appropriate for Scientific Reports. Nevertheless, we think it appropriate to consider such risks and to have a formal policy for dealing with them if need arises.
Once a decision has been reached, authors will be informed if biosecurity advice has informed that decision. Please see the joint statement by journal editors.
Corrections and retractions
Correction and retraction policy
Scientific Reports operates the following policy for making corrections to its peer-reviewed content.
Publishable amendments must be represented by a formal online notice because they affect the publication record and/or the scientific accuracy of published information. Where these amendments concern peer-reviewed material, they fall into one of four categories: Publisher Correction (formerly Erratum), Author Correction (formerly Corrigendum), Retraction or Addendum.
Publisher Correction (formerly Erratum). Notification of an important error made by the journal that affects the publication record or the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors or the journal.
Author Correction (formerly Corrigendum). Notification of an important error made by the author(s) that affects the publication record or the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors or the journal.
Retraction. Notification of invalid results. All co-authors must sign a Retraction specifying the error and stating briefly how the conclusions are affected, and submit it for publication. In cases where co-authors disagree, the in-house editors may seek advice from independent referees and impose the type of amendment that seems most appropriate, noting the dissenting author(s) in the text of the published version.
Addendum. Notification of additional information. Addenda are published when the in-house editors decide that the addendum is crucial to the reader's understanding of a significant part of the published contribution.
Decisions about types of correction are made by the journal's in-house editors, sometimes with the advice of referees, Editorial Advisory Panel or Editorial Board Members. This process involves consultation with the authors of the paper, but the in-house editors make the final decision about whether an amendment is required and the category in which the amendment is published.
When an amendment is published, it is linked bi-directionally to and from the article being corrected.
Authors sometimes request a correction to their published contribution that does not affect the contribution in a significant way or impair the reader's understanding of the contribution (e.g. a spelling mistake or grammatical error). Scientific Reports does not publish such corrections. The online article is part of the published record and hence its original published version is preserved. Scientific Reports does, however, correct the online version of a contribution if the wording in the html version does not make sense when compared with the PDF version (e.g. 'see left' for a figure that is an appropriate phrase for the PDF but not for the html version). In these cases, the fact that a correction has been made is stated in a footnote so that readers are aware that the originally published text has been amended.
Detailed description of correction types
Publisher Corrections (formerly Errata) concern the amendment of mistakes introduced by the journal in production, including errors of omission such as failure to make factual proof corrections requested by authors within the deadline provided by the journal and within journal policy. Publisher Corrections are generally not published for simple, obvious typographical errors, but are published when an apparently simple error is significant (e.g. a greek mu for an ‘m' in a unit, or a typographical error in the corresponding author's name).
If there is an error in the lettering on a figure, the usual procedure is to publish a sentence of rectification. A significant error in the figure itself is corrected by publication of a new corrected figure as a Publisher Correction. The figure is republished only if the Editorial Board Member considers it necessary for a reader to understand it.
Author Corrections (formerly Corrigenda) are judged on their relevance to readers and their importance for the published record. Author Corrections are published after discussion among the Editorial Board Members, Editorial Advisory Panel and the publishing team. All co-authors must sign an agreed wording.
Author Corrections submitted by the original authors are published if the scientific accuracy or reproducibility of the original paper is compromised; occasionally, on investigation, these may be published as Retractions. In cases where some co-authors decline to sign an Author Correction or Retraction, we reserve the right to publish it with the dissenting author(s) identified. Scientific Reports publishes Author Corrections if there is an error in the published author list, but not for overlooked acknowledgements.
Readers wishing to draw the journal's attention to a significant published error should contact the publishing team.
Retractions are judged according to whether the main conclusion of the paper no longer holds or is seriously undermined as a result of subsequent information coming to light of which the authors were not aware at the time of publication. In the case of experimental papers, this can include further experiments by the authors or by others that do not confirm the main experimental conclusion of the original publication. Readers wishing to draw the Editorial Board Members' attention to published work requiring retraction should first contact the authors of the original paper and then write to the publishing team, including copies of the correspondence with the authors (whether or not the correspondence has been answered). The publishing team and Editorial Board Member will seek advice from referees if they judge that the information is likely to draw into question the main conclusions of the published paper.
Addendum. Notification of additional information about a paper, usually in response to readers' request for clarification. Addenda, including Editorial Expressions of Concern, are published when the in-house editors decide that the addendum is crucial to the reader's understanding of a significant part of the published contribution.
Author Corrections to Supplementary Information (SI) are made only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. major errors that compromise the conclusion of the study). Published corrections to SI are usually linked to the Author Correction statement. Authors cannot update SI because new data have become available or interpretations have changed, as the SI is a peer-reviewed and integral part of the paper, and hence part of the published record.
SI cannot be amended between acceptance and publication unless a change made for technical reasons by the journal in order to publish the material on the website has introduced a significant error.
Material submitted to Scientific Reports must be original and not published or submitted for publication elsewhere. This rule applies to material submitted elsewhere while the Scientific Reports contribution is under consideration.
Authors submitting a contribution to Scientific Reports who have related material under consideration or in press elsewhere should upload a clearly marked copy at the time of submission, and draw the Editorial Board Members' attention to it in their cover letter. Authors must disclose any such information while their contributions are under consideration by Scientific Reports – for example, if they submit a related manuscript elsewhere that was not written at the time of the original Scientific Reports submission.
If part of a contribution that an author wishes to submit to Scientific Reports has appeared or will appear elsewhere, the author must specify the details in the covering letter accompanying the submission. Consideration by Scientific Reports is possible if the main result, conclusion, or implications are not apparent from the other work, or if there are other factors, for example if the other work is published in a language other than English.
Scientific Reports is happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis which has been published according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification.
Scientific Reports allows and encourages prior publication on recognized community preprint servers for review by other scientists in the field before formal submission to a journal. The details of the preprint server concerned and any accession numbers should be included in the cover letter accompanying submission of the manuscript to Scientific Reports. This policy does not extend to preprints available to the media or that are otherwise publicized outside the scientific community before or during the submission and consideration process at Scientific Reports.
Scientific Reports allows publication of meeting abstracts before the full contribution is submitted. Such abstracts should be included with the submission and referred to in the cover letter accompanying the manuscript. This policy does not extend to meeting abstracts and reports available to the media or which are otherwise publicized outside the scientific community during the submission and consideration process.
Scientific Reports is happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed, and continues to form, part of an online scientific collaboration such as a wiki or blog, provided that the information has not been publicized outside the scientific community, and is not publicized until the publication date of the work in Scientific Reports. In case of any doubt, authors should seek advice from the Editorial Board Member handling their contribution.
If an author of a submission is re-using a figure or figures published elsewhere, or that is copyrighted, the author must provide documentation that the previous publisher or copyright holder has given permission for the figure to be re-published. Scientific Reports Editorial Board Members consider all material in good faith that the publication has full permission to publish every part of the submitted material, including illustrations.
Confidentiality and pre-publicity
Scientific Reports keeps all details about a submitted manuscript confidential and does not comment to any outside organization about manuscripts that are either under consideration or that have been rejected.
After a manuscript is submitted, correspondence with Scientific Reports, referees' reports and other confidential material, regardless of whether or not the submission is eventually published, must not be posted on any website or otherwise publicized without prior permission. The Editorial Board Members themselves are not allowed to discuss manuscripts with third parties or to reveal information about correspondence and other interactions with authors and referees.
Referees of manuscripts submitted to Scientific Reports undertake in advance to maintain confidentiality of manuscripts and any associated supplementary data.
Our policy on the posting of particular versions of the manuscript is as follows:
1. You are welcome to post pre-submission versions or the original submitted version of the manuscript on a personal blog, a collaborative wiki or a recognised preprint server at any time. The website and URL must be identified in the cover letter accompanying submission of the paper to Scientific Reports.
2. Material in a paper submitted to Scientific Reports may also have been published as part of a PhD or other academic thesis.
3. Scientific Reports articles are open access and can replace the original submitted version immediately, on publication, as long as a publication reference and URL to the published version on the Scientific Reports website are provided.
Scientific Reports supports open communication between researchers, whether on a recognised preprint server, through discussions at research meetings, or via online collaborative sites such as wikis. Neither conference presentations nor posting on recognised preprint servers constitute prior publication.
Researchers are welcome to respond to requests from the media in response to a preprint or conference presentation, by providing explanation or clarification of the work, or information about its context. In these circumstances, media coverage will not hinder editorial handling of the submission.
Researchers should be aware that such coverage may reduce or pre-empt coverage by other media at the time of publication. We also advise that researchers approached by reporters in response to a preprint make it clear that the paper has not yet undergone peer review, and that the content is provisional. Details of peer review should be kept confidential.
We believe it important that the final published version of a paper be publicly available when the work is discussed in the media. For that reason, we strongly discourage the direct solicitation of media coverage to appear ahead of publication of the final version of a paper.
Authors of papers that contain taxonomy (i.e. the formal nomenclature and description of a newly discovered species) should be aware that it is possible for third parties to exploit the prior publication of nomenclature at any time between online posting of a preprint and the publication date in a journal, by publishing the name in print and asserting priority according to the rules of the Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Scientific Reports takes no responsibility for such assertions of priority in the case of manuscripts it publishes if the content of those manuscripts has previously appeared in the public domain as online preprints or other form of online posting.
Plagiarism is unacknowledged copying or an attempt to misattribute original authorship, whether of ideas or text. As defined by the ORI (Office of Research Integrity), plagiarism can include, “theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work”. Plagiarism can be said to have clearly occurred when large chunks of text have been cut-and-pasted without appropriate and unambiguous attribution. Such manuscripts would not be considered for publication in Scientific Reports. Aside from wholesale verbatim re-use of text, due care must be taken to ensure appropriate attribution and citation when paraphrasing and summarising the work of others. 'Text recycling' or re-use of parts of text from an author’s previous research publication is a form of self-plagiarism. Here, too, due caution must be exercised. When re-using text, whether from the author's own publication or that of others, appropriate attribution and citation is necessary to avoid creating a misleading perception of unique contribution for the reader.
Duplicate publication occurs when an author re-uses substantial parts of his or her own published work without providing the appropriate references. This can range from getting an identical paper published in multiple journals, to 'salami-slicing', where authors add small amounts of new data to a previous paper.
Scientific Reports' Editors and Editorial Board members assess all such cases on their individual merits. When plagiarism becomes evident post-publication, we may correct or retract the original publication depending on the degree of plagiarism, context within the published article and its impact on the overall integrity of the published study.
Scientific Reports is part of Similarity Check, a service that uses software tools to screen submitted manuscripts for text overlap.
Due credit for others' work
Discussion of unpublished work: Manuscripts are sent out for review on the condition that any unpublished data cited within are properly credited and the appropriate permission has been sought. Where licensed data are cited, authors must include at submission a written assurance that they are complying with originators' data-licensing agreements.
Referees are encouraged to be alert to the use of appropriated unpublished data from databases or from any other source, and to inform Scientific Reports of any concern they may have.
Discussion of published work: When discussing the published work of others, authors must properly describe the contribution of the earlier work. Both intellectual contributions and technical developments must be acknowledged as such and appropriately cited.