In Review at Nature journals

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What is a preprint? 

Preprints are defined as an author’s version of a research manuscript prior to formal peer review at a journal, which they deposit on a public server (as this article, “Preprints for the life sciences”, Science 352, 899-901; 2016, describes). 

For more information about Nature Research policies on preprint sharing please see here

Many journals and publishers support sharing of preprints and do not consider preprints to be prior publication. You can find more information about journals’ policies on this Wikipedia page

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What is In Review

In Review is a free preprint service from Research Square (of which Springer Nature is an investor) developed in partnership with Springer Nature (since October 2018) providing journal-integrated preprint sharing (for direct submissions of primary research manuscripts) and transparency into the peer review process for authors. By depositing a citable preprint on the Research Square platform, In Review allows authors to benefit from early sharing, including potential earlier citations, visibility and collaboration opportunities. Authors can demonstrate research progress to funders and others, and engage the wider community for comment and collaboration while their manuscript is under review. The wider research community will be able to discover new research with fully indexed search, comment on and help improve emerging science and gain insight into work currently under review at participating journals.

In Review at Nature journals – launched in June 2020 – provides journal-integrated preprint deposition on the Research Square platform and is currently available at Nature Communications and Nature Biomedical Engineering. It will become available at all Nature journals in the coming months. More information about what an author can expect when opting into In Review is provided below.

More information about In Review at Springer Nature can be found here.

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What do I need to know about opting in to In Review

  • You must ensure that your co-authors agree to post a preprint and participate in In Review
  • Whether you opt into In Review or not will have no effect on the editorial decisions and whether your manuscript is accepted.
  • If your manuscript is sent out to review, it will be posted, after undergoing a set of quality control checks (see below for more information about screening), as a preprint “Under Review at Nature Research” to In Review and with a DOI; it will now become a public and permanent part of the scholarly record. The community will be able to comment on, read, or cite your preprint.
  • If your manuscript is not sent out to review, you will be given an opportunity to share your work as a preprint on the Research Square platform with a DOI (but not as part of the In Review initiative); it will now become a public and permanent part of the scholarly record. The community will be able to comment on, read, or cite your preprint.
  • The peer review process including all editorial communications will continue through the peer review submission and manuscript tracking system. All queries about your manuscript’s peer review process should be directed to the journal.
  • You will receive real time updates on the progress of your manuscript through a private peer review timeline in the Author Dashboard feature of In Review (eg, number of reviewers invited, reviewers agreed, receipt of reports). 
  • If your manuscript is published, the preprint will be updated with a link to the published version.
  • If your manuscript is rejected, all information corresponding to Nature Research is removed from the preprint (see more information below).
  • If your manuscript is rejected and transferred to another Nature journal, opting into In Review is not currently available for transferred manuscripts.
  • Springer Nature does not have a formal policy of incorporating comments received on preprints into a journal-mediated review process. Editors may, at their discretion, choose to take commenting through the Research Square platform into consideration. As with traditional review, they will rely on reviewers with field expertise in forming their decision.

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How are preprints screened before posting through the In Review service?

All preprints that are posted through In Review undergo a set of quality control checks carried out by Research Square. These checks include affirming the presence of the following disclosures, where relevant. Authors submitting to Nature journals should include the ethics disclosures described below in their manuscript if they intend to opt-into In Review; competing interests statements are collected upon submission through the manuscript submission system.

  • Ethics approval for studies with human participants (consent to participate, and consent to publish)
  • Ethics approval for animal studies
  • Competing interest statements

In addition to these checks, our partner Research Square screens all preprints for pseudoscientific claims, biosecurity/dual use risk, unethical research practice, or other potential risks to human health, personal identifiers.

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What will happen to my preprint on Research Square if my manuscript is rejected from the journal I submitted to?

If you have opted into In Review and your article is rejected after peer review, all information corresponding to the Nature Research imprint will be removed from the preprint, leaving only the original preprint on the Research Square platform.

Many journal policies require declaration of posted preprints upon submission; you are free to send the link or share the DOI to the Research Square preprint of your manuscript to other journals as part of a future submission.

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Can I ask for my In Review preprint to be removed from the Research Square platform?

No, preprints are a permanent part of the scholarly record and cannot be removed. By opting in to In Review an author agrees to their article being posted permanently and publicly as a preprint on the Research Square platform after submission. Information about Research Square policies can be found here.

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Is it possible to make peer reviewed versions of the article available through In Review at Nature journals? 

No, only the author-submitted original version is made available as a preprint.

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What license is applied to the preprint and who holds copyright?

Authors retain full copyright for their work. Preprints posted on the Research Square platform via In Review receive a CC-BY 4.0 license which means that readers can reuse with appropriate attribution. More information about CC licenses can be found in these resource documents developed by an ASAPbio licensing taskforce.

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Can I participate in In Review if I have already posted to a preprint server? 

Yes, you may participate if you have already posted to a preprint server. You should however be aware that having more than one version in different servers will fragment the usage counts and metrics provided on In Review and on other sites. It may also cause confusion for some readers about which version to use and cite.

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How can I cite a preprint on the Research Square platform? 

You may cite your preprint (or another researchers’ preprint) in a Nature Research journal using the citation format specified in the Nature Research preprint policy. Once the preprint has been published in a journal, you may use the journal details in the citation.

For specific information about citing preprints posted on the Research Square platform, see Research Square policies here.

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Can I discuss an In Review preprint with the media?

Per Nature Research preprint policy, authors may provide clarification and context in response to inquiries from the media about their preprints, whether posted via In Review on the Research Square platform or on another platform. We advise authors to emphasize in these communications that the study has not been peer reviewed, and that the findings are provisional and could change. We also recommend that reporters indicate that the study is a preprint that has not been peer reviewed. 

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Are there any drawbacks to participating in In Review?

While we encourage deposition of preprints, please note that it may not be possible for us to undertake media promotion of your work at publication as it may not be possible for us to apply a press embargo to your article. Further information on our pre-publicity policy is available here. This may also affect your institution’s press office.