Editorial process

On this page: Summary of the editorial process | Presubmission enquiries | Initial submission | Peer review | Decision after review and revision | Final submission and acceptance | Appeals

Summary of the editorial process

  1. The author submits a manuscript via the manuscript tracking system.
  2. The corresponding author receives e-mail confirmation of the submission and its tracking number.
  3. An editor is assigned to handle the manuscript.
  4. After discussion, the editorial team decides whether to send the manuscript out to review. If needed, the editorial team may request quick advice from members of the Editorial Advisory Panel or, occasionally, other external experts. If the decision is not to send the manuscript for external peer review, the handling editor sends the decision letter by e-mail to the corresponding author. For manuscripts that undergo peer review:
  5. The editor assigns potential reviewers to the manuscript, and the corresponding author receives a notification e-mail from the handling editor.
  6. Reviewers submit their technical reports to the editor.
  7. The editorial team discusses the reports and makes the decision. This process may involve further consultation with the reviewers and, on occasion, editor-mediated communication between reviewers.
  8. The editor sends the decision letter by e-mail to the corresponding author. If submission of a suitably revised version is invited, the letter will include a resubmission web link and details about the requirements. When the manuscript is resubmitted, the editorial process restarts at point 5 above. If resubmission is not invited, the author is given the opportunity to transfer the manuscript to another Springer Nature journal. If the manuscript was peer-reviewed, the decision letter, the referee comments and their identity are also transferred. Please see our Manuscript Transfer FAQ for more information about this service.

Presubmission enquiries

Researchers may request informal feedback from the editors on the journal's interest in a particular manuscript. A short Presubmission enquiry can be sent through the online submission system or by e-mail to nBME@nature.com. Presubmission enquiries are not a prerequisite for the regular submission process, but are intended as a mechanism for authors to receive rapid feedback on whether a manuscript in preparation is within the scope and likely to be of interest to the journal. If authors have already written the manuscript, they are encouraged to submit it in its entirety via the manuscript tracking system.

Presubmission enquiries should describe the significance and broad relevance of the work, and explain its scientific context to help the editors determine whether the work is appropriate for Nature Biomedical Engineering. The Editor strongly recommends that authors include a synopsis of the work, describing background, main results and implications of these, a list of references, and figures if available.

Editors will express interest in presubmission enquiries on the basis of the information provided by the authors. In cases where editors decline a full submission, authors should refrain from submitting the full manuscript. Manuscripts invited after a presubmission enquiry may be rejected without external peer review once the editors have had a chance to consider the work in its entirety.

Initial submission

Manuscripts should be submitted via the manuscript tracking system. Each new submission is assigned to a handling editor, who reads the manuscript, consults with other editors and with members of the Editorial Advisory Panel or other external experts if needed, and decides whether it should be sent for external peer review. If the work described in the manuscript has been discussed with an editor of the Nature Biomedical Engineering editorial team before submission, the author should identify the editor on submission.

Many manuscripts describing solid studies of interest to those in the field are nonetheless judged to be unlikely to compete successfully with the best work submitted to the journal. Like other journals in the Nature family, Nature Biomedical Engineering has no external editorial board. However, if a manuscript's importance within the field is unclear, an editor may request advice from members of the Editorial Advisory Panel or external experts in deciding whether to peer-review it. The novelty of a submitted manuscript is considered to be compromised if it has significant conceptual, fundamental, mechanistic, methodological, technological or therapeutic overlap with a published paper or with one accepted for publication in Nature Biomedical Engineering. Preprint archives do not compromise novelty.

If a manuscript was previously considered at another Nature journal, the authors can use an automated manuscript transfer service to transfer the manuscript, decision letter and any referee reports and identities to Nature Biomedical Engineering via a web link sent by the editor who handled the manuscript. In this case, the editors will take any previous reports into account when making a decision, although in some cases the editors may choose to take advice from additional or alternative referees. Alternatively, authors may request a fresh submission, in which case they should not use the transfer link. The editors will then evaluate the manuscript without reference to the previous editorial and review process. However, this decision must be made at the time of initial submission and cannot be changed later. If the authors transfer a manuscript after it has undergone external peer review, they should include a note explaining the relationship between the transferred manuscript and the previous submission, and (assuming it has been revised in light of the referees' criticisms) provide a point-by-point response to the referees' comments. In cases where the work was felt to be of high quality, manuscripts can sometimes be accepted without further peer review; however, if there were serious criticisms, the editors will consider them in making the decision. In the event of publication, the received date is the date of submission to Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Peer review

The corresponding author is notified by e-mail when the editor decides to send a manuscript for external peer review. Authors may suggest referees; these suggestions are often helpful, although they are not always followed. By policy, referees are not identified to the authors, except at the request of the referee. Authors may request double-blind peer review, so that their names and affiliations are withheld from reviewers of the manuscript. Similar manuscripts are held to the same editorial standards as far as possible, and may be sent to the same referees. However, when related manuscripts are submitted together, each of the co-submitted manuscripts must meet the criteria for publication without reference to the other. Therefore, even if both manuscripts reach the same conclusion(s), if one of them is substantially less significant or thorough it may be rejected.

Decision after review and revision

When making a decision after peer review, the editors consider not only the current quality of the manuscript, but also how it might be improved after revision. In cases where the editors determine that the authors should be able to address the referees' concerns within a reasonable time span, the editor may request a revised manuscript that addresses the concerns. The editor will often provide specific guidance to the author with regard to referee requests and those that must be addressed versus those that are at the author's discretion or should be ignored, possibly as a result of further consultation between the editor and referees. The revised version is normally sent back to some or all of the original referees for re-review. The decision letter will specify a deadline, and revisions that are returned within this period will retain their original submission date.

In cases where the referees' concerns are really serious and appear unlikely to be addressed within a reasonable time span, the editor will typically reject the manuscript. If the editor feels that the work is of potential interest to the journal, however, they may express interest in seeing a future resubmission. The resubmitted manuscript may be sent back to the original referees or to new referees, at the editor's discretion. In such cases, revised manuscripts will not retain their earlier submission date. In either case, the revised manuscript should be accompanied by a cover letter that includes a point-by-point response to the referees' comments and an explanation of how the manuscript has been changed. An invited revision should be submitted via the revision web link provided in the decision letter, not as a new manuscript.

Final submission and acceptance

A request for final submission is sent when the manuscript is nearly ready to publish. These requests describe any remaining changes required by the editor. A priority of Nature Biomedical Engineering is that all papers be accessible to non-specialists. Manuscripts can then be subject to substantial editing, and authors may receive an extensively edited manuscript, indicating editorial concerns that must be addressed in the revision. After acceptance, a copy editor may make further changes so that the text and figures are readable and clear to those outside the field, and so that papers conform to the journal's style. Nature Biomedical Engineering uses Oxford English spelling.

For the final revision, authors should use the revision web link provided in the decision letter to upload a final version of the manuscript with all the requested changes.

When all remaining editorial issues have been resolved, the manuscript is formally accepted. The received date is the date on which the author submitted the original (or if previously rejected, the resubmitted) manuscript. The accept date will be indicated in the acceptance letter.

Authors are sent proofs and are welcome to discuss proposed changes with the editors, but Nature Biomedical Engineering reserves the right to make the final decision about matters of style and the size of figures.

Appeals

Even in cases where editors did not invite resubmission, some authors ask the editors to reconsider a rejection decision. These are considered appeals, which, by policy, must take second place to the journal's usual workload. Although we strive to provide a decision on an appeal within 14 days, on some occasions it may take several weeks.

Decisions are reversed on appeal only if the editors are convinced that the original decision was made in error, or if critical new information or data can be (or has been) added. If the manuscript has been peer-reviewed, the editor may discuss the appeal with one or more of the referees, and may obtain advice from an additional referee. If the manuscript has not been peer-reviewed, the editor may solicit informal opinions from one or more external experts.

Authors who wish to submit their manuscript elsewhere while it is under appeal at Nature Biomedical Engineering must first withdraw their appeal.