Content Types

Primary research formats

Article

An Article is a substantial, novel research study of high quality and broad interest to the various fields contributing to sustainability research. Articles often draw on several techniques or approaches. The main text (excluding the abstract, Methods section, references, tables and figure legends) is limited to 3,500 words. Articles can have up to 6 display items (figures and/or tables). As a guideline, Articles allow up to 50 references (excluding those cited exclusively in Methods). Footnotes are not used. The maximum title length is 90 characters (including spaces). The abstract should be no more than 150 words and is unreferenced; it contains a brief account of the background and rationale of the work, followed by a statement of the main conclusions introduced by the phrase "Here we show" or some equivalent. An introduction (without heading) of up to 500 words of referenced text expands on the background to the work (some overlap with the abstract is acceptable), and is followed by a concise, focused account of the findings, ending with one or two short paragraphs of discussion. Both the main text and the following Methods section should be divided by succinct topical headings of no more than 60 characters (including spaces) to aid readers. Methods can be up to 3,000 words. It can include equations but should not include figures and tables; references in the Methods are unlimited.

Articles include received/accepted dates and may be accompanied by Supplementary Information. Articles are peer reviewed.

Analysis

An Analysis is a new exploratory research study based on analysis of technologies, systems, interventions or policies that lead to novel and arresting conclusions of importance to a broad sustainability audience. The main text (excluding the abstract, Methods section, references, tables and figure legends) is 3,500 words. Analyses can have up to 6 display items (figures and/or tables). As a guideline, Analyses allow up to 50 references (excluding those cited exclusively in Methods). Footnotes are not used. The maximum title length is 90 characters (including spaces). The abstract should be no more than 150 words and is unreferenced; it contains a brief account of the background and rationale of the work, followed by a statement of the main conclusions introduced by the phrase "Here we show" or some equivalent. An introduction (without heading) of up to 500 words of referenced text expands on the background to the work (some overlap with the abstract is acceptable), and is followed by a concise, focused account of the findings, ending with one or two short paragraphs of discussion. Both the main text and the following Methods section should be divided by succinct topical headings of no more than 60 characters (including spaces) to aid readers. Methods can be up to 3,000 words. It can include equations but should not include figures and tables; references in the Methods are unlimited.

Analyses include received/accepted dates and may be accompanied by Supplementary Information. Analyses are peer reviewed.

Brief Communication

A Brief Communication reports a concise study of high quality and broad interest to the various fields contributing to sustainability research. Brief Communications begin with a brief unreferenced abstract (3 sentences, no more than 70 words), which will appear on abstracting services. The main text is no longer than 1,500 words, including abstract, references and figure legends, and contains no headings. Brief Communications normally have no more than 2 display items, although this may be flexible at the discretion of the editor, provided the page limit is observed. Brief Communications include a Methods section which should not exceed 500 words. As a guideline, Brief Communications allow up to 20 references. Footnotes are not used.  Article titles are omitted from the reference list.

Brief Communications include received/accepted dates and may be accompanied by Supplementary Information. Brief Communications are peer reviewed.

Other formats

Review

A Review is an authoritative, balanced survey of recent developments in a research domain of relevance to a broad sustainability audience. Although Reviews should be recognized as scholarly by specialists in the field, they should be written with a view to informing non-specialist readers. Thus, Reviews should be presented using straightforward prose, avoiding excessive jargon and technical detail. Reviews should be no more than 5,000 words long and typically include no more than 6 display items (figures, tables or boxes).

As a guideline, Reviews allow up to 100 references; citations should be selective. Footnotes are not used. The scope of a Review should be broad enough that it is not dominated by the work of a single research institution, and particularly not by the authors’ own work.

Most Review Articles are invited by the editors, though we are open to consider proposals. Authors wishing to propose an unsolicited Review article are encouraged to submit a brief synopsis through our online submission system before preparing a manuscript for formal submission. The synopsis should outline the topics that will be covered, list any recent, key publications in the area, and state the last time the topic was reviewed (if it has been reviewed previously).

Reviews include received/accepted dates. Reviews are always peer reviewed to ensure factual accuracy, appropriate citations and scholarly balance.

Perspective

A Perspective is intended to provide a forum for authors to discuss models and ideas from a personal viewpoint. They are more forward looking and/or speculative than Reviews and may take a narrower field of view. They may be opinionated but should remain balanced and are intended to stimulate discussion and new approaches within the broad sustainability research domain. Perspectives may also advocate a controversial position or present a speculative hypothesis. Two articles advocating opposite sides in a research controversy are normally published as Perspectives.

Perspectives follow the same guidelines of Reviews. They should not normally exceed 5,000 words. As a guideline, Perspectives allow up to 60 references; citations should be selective. Footnotes are not used. Perspectives should include no more than 6 display items (figures, tables and/or boxes).

As with Reviews, many Perspectives are invited by the editors, so it is advisable to send a brief synopsis through our online submission system before preparing a manuscript for formal submission.

Perspectives include received/accepted dates. Perspectives are always peer reviewed and edited by the editors in consultation with the author.

News & Views

News & Views articles inform readers about the latest advances in sustainability research, as reported in recently published papers (in Nature Sustainability or elsewhere) or at academic meetings. Unsolicited contributions will not normally be considered, although prospective authors are welcome to make proposals. News & Views articles are not peer reviewed, but undergo editing in consultation with the author.

Correspondence

The Correspondence section provides a forum for comment on papers or discussion of issues relevant to the journal’s community. A Correspondence should not exceed more than one printed page and is typically 250–500 words; it is limited to one display item and, as guideline, Correspondence allows up to 10 references. Article titles are omitted from the reference list. Titles for Correspondences are supplied by the editors. Correspondence may be peer-reviewed at the editors’ discretion. Note that Correspondence pieces are not technical comments on peer-reviewed research papers which would be considered Matters Arising.

Matters Arising

Matters Arising are exceptionally interesting and timely scientific comments and clarifications on original research papers published in Nature Sustainability. These comments should ideally be based on knowledge contemporaneous with the original paper, rather than subsequent scientific developments.

For detailed information on how to submit a Matters Arising, please follow instructions here.

Comment

Comment articles are opinionated pieces that focus on a topical issue in sustainability research, or in relevant policy and societal debates. These pieces are intended to be agenda-setting, authoritative and informed, and can be provocative articles calling for action on timely issues pertaining to the environmental, social, engineering and policy dimensions of sustainability. If so, they must road-map a proposed solution in detail, not simply snapshot a problem.

Single-author articles are preferred as this is an ‘opinion’ section of the journal. Comments are usually invited by the editors, but proposals are welcome. They should be of immediate interest to a broad sustainability readership and should be written in an accessible, non-technical style. Figures and diagrams are encouraged, but are not a requirement. Comments are typically no longer than 1,500 words and include up to 15 references. Article titles are omitted from the reference list.

Comments may be peer-reviewed at the editors’ discretion.

Books & Arts

The Books & Arts section of Nature Sustainability publishes timely reviews of books and other cultural and pedagogical resources of interest to a broad sustainability audience. The pieces are generally limited to one page. Book Reviews and other articles in this section are usually invited, though unsolicited contributions from academics and journalists are welcome, as are suggestions for appropriate titles and event to review. To be considered for review, books must be sent at least 3 months prior to publication to the editor of Nature Sustainability, Macmillan Campus, 4 Crinan Street, London N1 9XW.

Features

These sections are written and invited by the journal editors. They do not contain unsolicited material. We are, however, keen to accept freelance pitches of exclusive stories, particularly conference coverage from locations where we do not have staff, or reports from interesting field work.

All of our Features are written with a lively, proactive tone, using language that is clear even to readers for whom English is not their native tongue. Stories should be accessible to those with a general interest and background in academic research.

For details on how to pitch to Nature Sustainability, contact sustainability@nature.com.