As the requirements for data presentation in research papers have grown, Nature’s space limitations have remained tight, so more and more essential displayed information has been relegated inappropriately to our Supplementary Information sections. Hard on the heels of our relaxation of constraints on our online Methods sections (see Nature 496, 398; 2013), we are now significantly increasing the number of figures integral to the paper in its online and PDF versions. From July, Nature will introduce a new component to its research papers. This new category, called Extended Data (see go.nature.com/tp4vu3), will provide the online reader with immediate access to many display items (figures and tables) previously buried in the Supplementary Information PDF. From now on, most papers submitted to Nature can take advantage of this enhancement.
Extended Data display items will be referred to in the print version of the paper, but will be available only online (as is also the case with our full Methods sections). Individual Extended Data display items will be easily accessible by clicking on a call-out in the HTML version of the paper, generating a pop-up box containing the display item and its accompanying legend. Furthermore, the Extended Data display items will be appended to the end of the online PDF, so that the print paper, full Methods section and Extended Data section will be available in one document (see go.nature.com/gb5p6r for a breakdown of the composition of a Nature research paper).
Extended Data will not normally contain more than ten individual display items (figures and tables) in addition to the limits set for the printed version of the paper (typically four and five display items for Letters and Articles, respectively). Authors are encouraged to combine appropriate Extended Data figures into multi-panelled figures in order to meet this limit. Each display item should fit onto one page, ideally with its legend or footnote directly below.
The Extended Data display items will be peer reviewed but, like current Supplementary Information, will not be edited in-house. At final submission the Extended Data display items should be generated at the same quality as the figures for the print paper, although there will be differences in formatting (see go.nature.com/zmitgz for a full formatting guide).
Extended Data display items can be used to present essential information relating to the Methods section.
The Supplementary Information section will remain as part of the online-only content, comprising material directly relevant to the conclusion of a paper that cannot be included in the printed version for reasons of space or medium (for example, video clips or sound files). However, this section should no longer contain figures or tables unless there is an exceptional justification (for example, if information is best presented in an Excel file).
From the beginning of July, editors will ask authors who have been invited to revise their papers after the first round of peer review to reformat their papers for consistency with Extended Data. In addition, editors will identify papers at later stages in the editorial process (up to and including the final revision) that might be easily reformatted to include Extended Data display items, and invite authors to revise their papers accordingly. Eventually, all new submissions to Nature will be required to comply with this formatting of research papers. The result will be a higher standard of data presentation within the online-only versions of the paper, which will be to the benefit of our readers.