Editorial and publishing policies

Communications Biology follows the policies of the Nature Research journals, unless otherwise noted below.

Submission policies

When you submit a manuscript to Communications Biology, 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 Communications Biology.

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.

Transfers

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 Communications Biology. 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.

Communications Biology is editorially independent, and our in-house editors 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.

Peer review policies

The following types of contribution to Communications Biology are peer-reviewed: Articles and Reviews. Matters Arising and all forms of published correction may also be peer-reviewed at the discretion of the editors. Comment articles may also be peer-reviewed at the discretion of the editors, particularly if the Comment contains technical information or unpublished data.

Detailed information about our peer review policies and other important information for referees can be found here.

The review process

All submitted manuscripts are read by the editors. To save time for authors and peer-reviewers, only those papers that seem most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent for formal review. Those papers judged by the editors to be of insufficient general interest or otherwise inappropriate are rejected promptly without external review (although these decisions may be based on informal advice from specialists in the field).

Manuscripts judged to be of potential interest to our readership are sent for formal review, typically to two or three reviewers, but sometimes more if special advice is needed (for example on statistics or a particular technique). The editors then make a decision based on the reviewers' advice, from among several possibilities:

Accept, with or without editorial revisions

Invite the authors to revise their manuscript to address specific concerns before a final decision is reached

Reject, but indicate to the authors that further work might justify a resubmission

Reject outright, typically on grounds of specialist interest, lack of novelty, insufficient conceptual advance or major technical and/or interpretational problems

Reviewers are welcome to recommend a particular course of action, but they should bear in mind that the other reviewers of a particular paper may have different technical expertise and/or views, and the editors may have to make a decision based on conflicting advice. Editorial decisions are not a matter of counting votes or numerical rank assessments, and we do not always follow the majority recommendation. We try to evaluate the strength of the arguments raised by each reviewer and by the authors, and we may also consider other information not available to either party. Our primary responsibilities are to our readers and to the scientific community at large, and in deciding how best to serve them, we must weigh the claims of each paper against the many others also under consideration.

We may return to reviewers for further advice, particularly in cases where they disagree with each other, or where the authors believe they have been misunderstood on points of fact. We therefore ask that reviewers should be willing to provide follow-up advice as requested. We are very aware, however, that reviewers are usually reluctant to be drawn into prolonged disputes, so we try to keep consultation to the minimum we judge necessary to provide a fair hearing for the authors.

When reviewers agree to assess a paper, we consider this a commitment to review subsequent revisions. However, editors will not send a resubmitted paper back to the reviewers if it seems that the authors have not made a serious attempt to address the criticisms.

We take reviewers' criticisms seriously; in particular, we are very reluctant to disregard technical criticisms. In cases where one reviewer alone opposes publication, we may consult the other reviewers as to whether s/he is applying an unduly critical standard. We occasionally bring in additional reviewers to resolve disputes, but we prefer to avoid doing so unless there is a specific issue, for example a specialist technical point, on which we feel a need for further advice.

Selecting peer reviewers

Reviewer selection is critical to the publication process, and we base our choice on many factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations and our own previous experience of a reviewer's characteristics. For instance, we may avoid requesting reviews from people who do not return their reviews in a timely manner or do not provide reasoning for their views, whether harsh or lenient.

We check with potential reviewers before sending them manuscripts to review. Reviewers should bear in mind that these messages contain confidential information, which should be treated as such.

Access to the literature

If a reviewer does not have access to any published paper that is necessary for evaluation of a submitted manuscript, the journal will supply the reviewer with a copy. Under these circumstances, the reviewer should send the publication reference of the paper required to the editor who sent them the paper to review. The editor will obtain the paper, paying any necessary fees, and send it to the reviewer.

Appeals

In cases where editors did not invite resubmission, authors are strongly advised to submit their paper for publication elsewhere, although it is possible for authors to ask the editors to reconsider a rejection decision. These are considered appeals, which, by policy, must take second place to the normal workload.

Decisions are reversed on appeal only if the editors are convinced that the original decision was a serious mistake, not merely a borderline call that could have gone either way. Further consideration may be merited if a referee made substantial errors of fact or showed evidence of bias, but only if a reversal of that referee's opinion would have changed the original decision. Similarly, disputes on factual issues need not be resolved unless they were critical to the outcome.

If an appeal merits further consideration, the editors may send the authors' response or the revised paper to one or more referees, or they may ask one referee to comment on the concerns raised by another referee. On occasion, particularly if the editors feel that additional technical expertise is needed to make a decision, they may obtain advice from an additional referee.

Author responsibilities

Communications Biology follows the Nature Research authorship policies. Read these policies in full here.

Being an author

The Nature Research journals do not require all authors of a research paper to sign the letter of submission, nor do they impose an order on the list of authors. Submission to Communications Biology is taken by the journal to mean that all the listed authors have agreed to all of the contents, including the author list and author contributions statements. The corresponding author is responsible for having ensured that this agreement has been reached, that all authors have agreed to be so listed and approved the manuscript submission to the journal, and for managing all communication between the journal and all co-authors, before and after publication. Any changes to the author list after submission, such as a change in the order of the authors, or the deletion or addition of authors, needs to be approved by every author.

The author list should include all appropriate researchers and no others. Authorship provides credit for a researcher’s contributions to a study and carries accountability. The Nature Research journals do not prescribe the kinds of contributions that warrant authorship but encourage transparency by publishing author contributions statements. Journal editors at Communications Biology are not in a position to investigate or adjudicate authorship disputes before or after publication. Such disagreements if they cannot be resolved amongst authors should be brought up to the relevant institutional authority. 

The editors at Communications Biology assume that the corresponding author (and on multi-group collaboration, at least one member of each collaborating group, 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.

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.

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. For example, "AB and CD wrote the main manuscript text and EF prepared figures 1–3. All authors reviewed the manuscript." A Nature Editorial describes this policy in more detail.

Nature Research journals also allow 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. 

Corresponding author—prepublication responsibilities

The corresponding (submitting) author is solely responsible for communicating with Communications Biology 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 Communications Biology on the behalf of all co-authors; Communications Biology 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

Communications Biology 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 each corresponding author is published in the paper.

Correcting the record

Authors of published material have a responsibility to inform Communications Biology promptly if they become aware of any part that requires correcting. See the section on Refutations, complaints and corrections for more information.

A confidential process

Communications Biology treats the submitted manuscript and all communication with authors and referees as confidential. Authors must also treat communication with Communications Biology as confidential: correspondence with Communications Biology , referee reports and other confidential material must not be posted on any website or otherwise publicized without prior permission from the Communications Biology editorial 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.

Referee suggestions

Authors are welcome to suggest suitable independent referees when they submit their manuscript. These suggestions may or may not be used by Communications Biology at the editor’s discretion. Authors may also request that Communications Biology excludes a small number of individuals or laboratories. Communications Biology sympathetically considers such exclusion requests and usually honours them, but the decision of the editor on the choice of referees is final.

Pre-registration and replication

Nature Research journals support study pre-registration and appreciate the value of replicating previous findings. Learn more about Nature Research’s policies on these topics.

License agreement and author copyright

Communications Biology 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. More information about Open Access at Communications Biology is available here

Embargo policy and press releases

Full details of this policy can be found on the Nature Research press and embargo policy page.

Communication with the media

Material submitted to Communications Biology must not be discussed with the media, except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media only once the publication date has been confirmed and no more than a week before the publication date under our embargo conditions.

Communication between scientists

Communications Biology 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). 

Ethics and biosecurity

Please see the Nature Research ethics and biosecurity policy page for full details of our policies for:

  • Studies involving animals and human research participants
  • Studies involving vulnerable groups
  • Tumor marker prognostic studies
  • Human biospecimens
  • Human transplantation studies
  • Publishing images from human research participants
  • Studies involving human embryos, gametes and stem cells
  • Nature Research journals' policy on biosecurity

Please note that Communications Biology does not consider studies reporting clinical trials. 

Competing interests

In the interests of transparency and to help readers form their own judgments of potential bias, Nature Research journals require authors to declare any competing financial and/or non-financial interests in relation to the work described. The corresponding author is responsible for submitting a competing interests statement on behalf of all authors of the paper. For full details, see the Nature Research competing interests policy page

Editorial Board Member authorship

Editorial Board Members are welcome to submit papers to the journal. These submissions are not given any priority over other manuscripts, and Editorial Board Member status has no bearing on editorial consideration. When an Editorial Board Member is an author on a submission, they will have no involvement in the editorial review of the manuscript, no access to confidential information on the editorial process, and no input into the decision to publish the article.

Availability of materials and data

Communications Biology follows the Nature Research reporting standards and policies on  the sharing of research materials, data, code, and protocols. Read these policies in full here.

Supporting data must be made available to editors 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; Communications Biology 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 journal. 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, linked online to the publication, stating that readers have been unable to obtain necessary materials to replicate the findings.

You will find information on specific policies at the links below:

Communications Biology, and many research funding agencies, encourage or require data sharing in repositories. If you need help understanding our data sharing policies, help finding a suitable data repository, or help organising and sharing your research data (including text, raw and processed data, video and images) you should consider:

  • 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.

Research Data Support is an optional Springer Nature service. This service provides custom curation of data and metadata by professional research data editors, guidance on deposition to community-endorsed repositories, and publication in the Springer Nature figshare repository. Use of Research Data Support is optional and does not imply or guarantee that a manuscript will be accepted. Please note there are fees associated with using Research Data Support.

Data availability statement format guidelines

Data availability statements must be included in all manuscripts prior to publication, and we strongly encourage them to be included at the time of submission. The statement should be placed at the end of the Methods section (titled 'Data Availability'). 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. For detailed information about data availability statements please visit the Data Policies site from Springer Nature

A guide for authors regarding Data Availability statements and our data citations policy can be downloaded at https://www.nature.com/documents/nr-data-availability-statements-data-citations.pdf

Sharing datasets

Communications Biology adheres to the Springer Nature Research Data Policy Type 3 for life sciences (details available here). A submission to the journal implies that materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, will be freely available to any researcher wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without breaching participant confidentiality.

The journal requires datasets to be made freely available to readers from the date of publication, and must be provided to editors and referees upon request, for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript. We strongly encourage authors to deposit their data in a public repository prior to manuscript submission.

Authors should ensure that their datasets are either deposited in publicly available repositories (where available and appropriate) or presented in the main manuscript or additional supporting files whenever possible. 

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. Additional data types may be subject to mandatory deposition at the discretion of the editor. For suitable repositories for each data type listed below, please refer to the Springer Nature data policies page or the Scientific Data list of recommended repositories

Mandatory deposition is required for:

  • Protein sequences
  • DNA and RNA sequences and sequencing data
  • Genetic polymorphisms
  • Linked genotype and phenotype data
  • GWAS summary statistics
  • Macromolecular structure
  • Microarray data (must be MIAME compliant)
  • Crystallographic data for small molecules
  • Mass spectrometry-based proteomics data

See the Springer Nature data policies page for full details, including recommended data repositories.

Sharing biological materials

A condition of publication in Communications Biology is that authors make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to others without preconditions.

Cell lines

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 Communications Biology aware of any limits that result from those forms.

Flow cytometry

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.

Data citation

Authors should cite any datasets stored in external repositories that are mentioned within their manuscript. For previously published datasets, we ask authors to cite both the related research articles and the datasets themselves. For more information on how to cite datasets in submitted manuscripts, please see our submission guidelines.

All Springer Nature journals, including Communications Biology, are participants in the Initiative for Open Citations. As such, data citations are included in full in the formal reference list, exported to Crossref and are openly available.

Availability of computer code and algorithm

Communications Biology follows the Nature Research policies for the sharing of computer code and algorithm (read these policies in full).

For all studies using custom code or mathematical algorithm that is central to the conclusions, authors must provide any previously unreported custom computer code or algorithm used to generate results upon editor or reviewer request. We reserve the right to decline the manuscript if important code is unavailable. The Methods section must include a statement with the heading ‘Code availability’ that describes how readers can access the code or algorithm, including any restrictions to access. To ensure that the version of custom code, software or algorithm described in the publication is maintained, we will publish it as a Supplementary document or, when applicable, request that authors maintain it in an established software version control repository.

At the editors' discretion, authors may be asked to fill out a Code and Software submission checklist. Further detailed guidance and required documentation at submission and acceptance of the manuscript can be found here.

Digital image integrity and standards

Please see the Nature Research policy page for full details of our image integrity and standards policy. Additional policies apply to electrophoretidc gels and blots and microscopy images.

Digital images submitted with a manuscript for review should be minimally processed.  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. When submitting revised final figures upon conditional acceptance, authors may be asked to submit original, unprocessed images.

Refutations, complaints and corrections

Correction and retraction policy

We recognize our responsibility to correct errors that we have previously published. Our policy is to consider refutations (readers' criticisms) of primary research papers, and to publish them (in concise form) if and only if the author provides compelling evidence that a major claim of the original paper was incorrect. Refutations are peer-reviewed, and where possible they are sent to the same referees who reviewed the original paper. A copy is usually also sent to the corresponding author of the original paper for signed comments. Refutations are published in the Matters Arising section, sometimes with a brief response from the original authors. Some submitted refutations are eventually published as retractions by the paper's authors. In both cases, the published refutation or retraction is linked online to the original paper, and the published paper is linked online to the refutation or retraction.

Please refer to the full Nature Research policies regarding corrections and retractions. 

Publisher correction

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

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.

Detailed description of correction types

Publisher corrections 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 (eg 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 editor considers it necessary for a reader to understand it.

Author corrections are judged on their relevance to readers and their importance for the published record. Author corrections are published after discussion among the editors. 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 a corrigendum or retraction, we reserve the right to publish it with the dissenting author(s) identified.

Communications Biology 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 commsbio@nature.com

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 editors' attention to published work requiring retraction should first contact the authors of the original paper and then write to the journal, including copies of the correspondence with the authors (whether or not the correspondence has been answered). The editors will seek advice from referees if they judge that the information is likely to draw into question the main conclusions of the published paper.

Supplementary information

Authors' corrections to Supplementary Information (SI) are made only in exceptional circumstances (eg 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.

Duplicate publication

Please see the full Nature Research policy page on duplicate publication

Material submitted to Communications Biology must be original and not published or submitted for publication elsewhere. This rule applies to material submitted elsewhere while the Communications Biology contribution is under consideration.

Authors submitting a contribution to Communications Biology who have related material under consideration or in press elsewhere should upload a clearly marked copy at the time of submission, and draw the editor’s attention to it in their cover letter. Authors must disclose any such information while their contributions are under consideration by Communications Biology—for example, if they submit a related manuscript elsewhere that was not written at the time of the original Communications Biology submission. 

Preprints, PhD theses, and meeting abstracts are not considered prior or duplicate publication.

Confidentiality, pre-publicity and preprints

Confidentiality

Communications Biology 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. Please see the Nature Research confidentiality policy for full details. 

After a manuscript is submitted, correspondence with Communications Biology, 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 editors 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 Communications Biology agree in advance to maintain confidentiality of manuscripts and any associated supplementary data.

Pre-publicity and preprints

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 preprint server at any time.
  2. Communications Biology 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 Communications Biology website are provided.

Communications Biology authors must not discuss contributions with the media (including other scientific journals) except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media once an embargo date has been set. The full Nature Research policy on preprints and conference proceedings can be found here

Authors of papers that contain taxonomy (ie 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. Communications Biology 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 and fabrication

See the Nature Research plagiarism and fabrication policy page for full details.

Plagiarism is unacknowledged copying or an attempt to misattribute original authorship, whether of ideas, text or results. 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 Communications Biology

Nature Research is part of CrossCheck, an initiative to help editors verify the originality of submitted manuscripts. As part of this process, Communications Biology checks submitted manuscripts to be scanned and compared with the CrossCheck database.

If a case of plagiarism comes to light after a paper is published in Communications Biology, the publication will conduct a preliminary investigation. If plagiarism is found, the publication will contact the author's institute and funding agencies. A determination of misconduct will lead Communications Biology to run a statement, bi-directionally linked online to and from the original paper, to note the plagiarism and to provide a reference to the plagiarised material. The paper containing the plagiarism will also be obviously marked on each page of the PDF. Depending on the extent of the plagiarism, the paper may also be formally retracted.

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 Communications Biology 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.

Full details of this policy can be found here