How to write your paper

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Writing for a Nature journal

Before writing a paper, authors are advised to visit the author information pages of the journal to which they wish to submit (see this link for a full list of Nature Portfolio publications). Each journal has slightly different format requirements depending on readership, space, style and so on. The journal's website will contain detailed information about format, length limits, figure preparation, and similar matters. If your questions are not answered on these pages or through our recommended guidelines below, we suggest you contact the journal’s editorial office for further guidance before submitting. Contact information for the editorial offices can be found on the journal websites.

We also strongly recommend that authors read a few issues of the journal to which they wish to submit, to obtain a sense of the level, length and readership of the journal. Looking at the print issue, or at PDFs in the online edition, is particularly useful for details such as presentation of figures or style of reference numbering. (All Nature Portfolio journals have a free online issue of the journal for those who do not subscribe or have site-licence access, which can be accessed via the journal's "about" web page.)

Nature journals are international, so in writing a paper, authors should consider those readers for whom English is a second language. The journals are read mainly by professional scientists, so authors can avoid unnecessary simplification or didactic definitions. However, many readers are outside the immediate discipline of the author(s), so clarity of expression is needed to achieve the goal of comprehensibility. (See the section below for links to some websites that provide writing help and advice.)

Nature journals prefer authors to write in the active voice ("we performed the experiment...") as experience has shown that readers find concepts and results to be conveyed more clearly if written directly. We have also found that use of several adjectives to qualify one noun in highly technical language can be confusing to readers. We encourage authors to "unpackage" concepts and to present their findings and conclusions in simply constructed sentences.

Many papers submitted for publication in a Nature journal contain unnecessary technical terminology, unreadable descriptions of the work that has been done, and convoluted figure legends. Our journal subeditors and copyeditors edit the manuscript so that it is grammatically correct, logical, clear and concise. They also ensure that manuscripts use consistent search terms and terminology that is consistent with what is used in previous articles published in the journal. Of course, this process is assisted greatly if the authors have written the manuscript in a simple and accessible style, as the author is the best person to convey the message of the paper and to persuade readers that it is important enough to spend time on.

We ask authors to avoid jargon and acronyms where possible. When essential, they should be defined at first use; after first use, the author should use pronouns when possible rather than using the abbreviation or acronym at every occurrence. The acronym is second-nature to the author but is not to the reader, who may have to refer to the original definition throughout the paper when an acronym is used.

Titles need to be comprehensible and enticing to a potential reader quickly scanning a table of contents or performing an online search, while at the same time not being so general or vague as to obscure what the paper is about. We ask authors to be aware of abstracting and indexing services when devising a title for the paper: providing one or two essential keywords within a title will be beneficial for web-search results.

Within the text of papers, Nature journals use a numbering (Vancouver) system for references, not the Harvard method whereby the authors and year of publication are included in the text in parentheses. We adopt this numbering style because we believe the text flows more smoothly, and hence is quicker for the reader to absorb.

Our experience has shown that a paper's impact is maximized if it is as short as is consistent with providing a focused message, with a few crucial figures or tables. Authors can place technical information (figures, protocols, methods, tables, additional data) necessary to support their conclusion into Supplementary Information (SI), which is published online-only to accompany the published print/online paper. SI is peer-reviewed, and we believe that its use means that the impact of the conclusions of the study is enhanced by being presented in concise and focused form in the print/online journal, emphasizing the key conclusions of the research and yet providing the full supporting details required by others in the field in online-only form. We encourage authors to use SI  in this way to enhance the impact of the print/online version, and hence to increase its readership. Authors are asked to provide short "signposts" at appropriate points in their paper to indicate that SI is present to expand on a particular point (for example "for more details, see figure x in SI) so that readers can navigate easily to the relevant information.  We also encourage authors who are describing methods and protocols to provide the full details as SI.

We all face the challenge of how to make the best use of our time in an era of information overload. Judicious use of SI to ensure that the printed version of a paper is clear, comprehensible and as short as is consistent with this goal, is very likely to increase the paper's readership, impact and the number of times others cite it.

Nature Physics: the Editorial Elements of style explains the importance of clear and accessible writing. The advice contained within this Editorial applies to all the Nature journals.

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How to write a scientific paper

A number of articles and websites provide detailed guidelines and advice about writing and submitting scientific papers. Some suggested sources are:

How can you help improve your manuscript for publication?

Presenting your work in a well-structured manuscript and in well-written English gives it its best chance for editors and reviewers to understand it and evaluate it fairly. Many researchers find that getting some independent support helps them present their results in the best possible light. The experts at Springer Nature Author Services can help you with manuscript preparation—including English language editing, developmental comments, manuscript formatting, figure preparation, translation, and more. 

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You can also use our free Grammar Check tool for an evaluation of your work.

Please note that using these tools, or any other service, is not a requirement for publication, nor does it imply or guarantee that editors will accept the article, or even select it for peer review. 

For authors from China 


如果在结构精巧的稿件中用精心组织的英语展示您的作品,就能最大限度地让编辑和审稿人理解并公正评估您的作品。许多研究人员发现,获得一些独立支持有助于他们以尽可能美好的方式展示他们的成果。Springer Nature Author Services 的专家可帮助您准备稿件,具体包括润色英语表述、添加有见地的注释、为稿件排版、设计图表、翻译等。 

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For authors from Japan


内容が適切に組み立てられ、質の高い英語で書かれた論文を投稿すれば、編集者や査読者が論文を理解し、公正に評価するための最善の機会となります。多くの研究者は、個別のサポートを受けることで、研究結果を可能な限り最高の形で発表できると思っています。Springer Nature Author Servicesのエキスパートが、英文の編集、建設的な提言、論文の書式、図の調整、翻訳など、論文の作成をサポートいたします。 




For authors from Korea

게재를 위해 원고를 개선하려면 어떻게 해야 할까요?

여러분의 작품을 체계적인 원고로 발표하는 것은 편집자와 심사자가 여러분의 연구를 이해하고 공정하게 평가할 수 있는 최선의 기회를 제공합니다. 많은 연구자들은 어느 정도 독립적인 지원을 받는 것이 가능한 한 최선의 방법으로 자신의 결과를 발표하는 데 도움이 된다고 합니다. Springer Nature Author Services 전문가들은 영어 편집, 발전적인 논평, 원고 서식 지정, 그림 준비, 번역 등과 같은 원고 준비를 도와드릴 수 있습니다. 

지금 시작하면 15% 할인됩니다.

또한 당사의 무료 문법 검사 도구를 사용하여 여러분의 연구를 평가할 수 있습니다.

이러한 도구 또는 기타 서비스를 사용하는 것은 게재를 위한 필수 요구사항이 아니며, 편집자가 해당 논문을 수락하거나 피어 리뷰에 해당 논문을 선택한다는 것을 암시하거나 보장하지는 않습니다.


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