Critical comments on recent Communications Biology papers may be, after peer review, published online as Matters Arising usually alongside a Reply from the criticized Communications Biology authors. Matters Arising are interesting or important scientific comments and clarifications on original research papers or other peer-reviewed material published in Communications Biology.
Submissions should challenge the main conclusions of the Communications Biology paper and contain new, unpublished data to support the arguments.
Submissions that pertain to a non-central part of the Communications Biology paper are not considered. Authors of such contributions are instead invited to make their comment online underneath the full-text version of the paper on the Communications Biology website. Communications Biology encourages these authors also to contact the authors of the paper directly so that they can respond online.
If the Matters Arising only serves to identify an important error in the published paper, it is published in the form of a clarification statement (author correction or retraction, for example) by the Communications Biology authors and the names of the authors who pointed out the error should be acknowledged in the text of the correction.
Communications Biology does not consider Matters Arising on papers published in other journals. Contributions that do not comply with our submission criteria will not be considered. Communications Biology does not consider for publication material written in aggressive or other unprofessional language.
Manuscript preparation and formatting
Before submission, contributors should read some previous online contributions to see if their contribution seems appropriate.
Contributions, both Matters Arising and Reply, should be formatted according to these instructions.
- They should not exceed 1200 words (main text).
- Titles must be brief and may be changed on acceptance. Authors will be consulted about title changes but Communications Biology will make the final decision.
- Contributions should start with a brief paragraph that summarizes the message of the article without specialized terminology, for a non-specialist readership. This paragraph should be used as the abstract for submission purposes.
- Contributions should have a simple message that requires only one or two small figures or tables. Contributions with more than two figures and/or tables will not be considered.
- At submission, figures should be of good enough quality to be assessed by referees, ideally as JPEGs.
- As a guideline, contributions allow up to 15 references.
- Supplementary Information is permitted at the editor's discretion.
- Acknowledgements and joint first authors are not allowed. People or organizations providing essential, non-funding assistance can be mentioned briefly in the text or figure legend.
- A competing interests statement is required before final acceptance.
- An author contributions statement is required.
- If new data are presented, a Data Availability statement is required before final acceptance.
Contributions should be submitted using the online submission service. Select "Matters Arising" when asked to "Choose the appropriate manuscript type". Contributions sent by e-mail will not be considered.
Before submitting, all contributors must agree to all of Communications Biology’s publication policies. In addition:
- Contributions should be written as focused articles comprehensible to non-specialists: lists of technical points are not appropriate for publication. They should pertain to the main conclusion of the published paper and should not concern relatively unimportant points.
- All contributions should be measured in tone, and should not contain inflammatory or otherwise intemperate language.
- Matters Arising should be sent to the authors of the paper under discussion before submission to Communications Biology, so that disputes can be resolved directly whenever possible and points where both parties agree removed from the submitted contribution. If after two weeks the original authors have not responded, this should be indicated at submission.
- Otherwise, when the Matters Arising is submitted to Communications Biology, copies of the exchange with the original authors should be enclosed for the editor’s information. This exchange should accompany the submission as an attachment clearly labelled as 'Exchange with the Communications Biology authors'.
The editors will decide how to proceed on the basis of whether the central conclusion of the Communications Biology paper is brought into question; the length of time since the original publication; and whether a comment or exchange of views is likely to be of value to readers.
Matters Arising that meet Communications Biology’s initial selection criteria are sent to the authors of the original paper for a Reply. The original authors are given a deadline of fourteen days to respond. The Correspondence and Reply may then be sent to independent referees.
A Reply is published only when it adds to the debate, and not when it reiterates points already published. It should be confined to replying to the specific issue raised about the published paper. The responders are defined as the authors of the published contribution that is the subject of the comment, and no one else.
Replying authors must keep the Matters Arising confidential and must not use it for their own research or for any other purpose apart from replying to the comment, nor can they distribute it without first obtaining permission from Communications Biology.
If the Communications Biology authors do not respond within fourteen days of receipt of the Matters Arising, the editor may proceed without the response.
Late Replies may not be considered for publication.
Authors of the Matters Arising will be shown the initial Reply from the Communications Biology authors once a decision is reached on publication. In the event that the exchange is accepted for publication, they will see a proof of their own contribution but not of the finalized Reply (if a Reply is being published). Similarly, authors of the Reply will see a proof of their own contribution but not of the finalized Matters Arising article.
The editors will not consider appeals against decisions not to publish Matters Arising from Communications Biology Articles unless the grounds for appeal consist of a previously overlooked and important scientific point and are clearly explained in these terms. Authors who have had a submission declined are encouraged to post it as an online comment to the paper concerned at the journal website.