How to publish your paper

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Journal specific instructions

For more information on how to publish papers in a specific Nature Research title, please visit the author instructions page for the journal that is of interest to you.

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Nature journal pledge to authors

Editors of the Nature journals strive to provide authors with an outstandingly efficient, fair and thoughtful submission, peer-review and publishing experience. Authors can expect all manuscripts that are published to be scrutinized for peer-review with the utmost professional rigor and care by expert referees who are selected by the editors for their ability to provide incisive and useful analysis. Editors weigh many factors when choosing content for Nature journals, but they strive to minimize the time taken to make decisions about publication while maintaining the highest possible quality of that decision.

After review, editors work to increase a paper's readability, and thereby its audience, through advice and editing, so that all research is presented in a form that is both readable to those in the field and understandable to scientists outside the immediate discipline. Research is published online without delay through our Advance Online Publication system. Nature journals provide more than 3,000 registered journalists with weekly press releases that mention all research papers to be published. About 800,000 registered users receive e-mailed tables of contents, and many papers are highlighted for the nonspecialist reader on the journal's homepage, contents pages and in News and Views.

Throughout this process, the editors of Nature journals uphold editorial, ethical and scientific standards according to the policies outlined on the author and referee site as well as on our journal websites. We periodically review those policies to ensure that they continue to reflect the needs of the scientific community, and welcome comments and suggestions from scientists, either via the feedback links on the author and referees' website or via our author blog, Nautilus, or peer-review blog, Peer to Peer.

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How to publish your research in a Nature journal

The Nature journals comprise the weekly, multidisciplinary Nature, which publishes research of the highest influence within a discipline that will be of interest to scientists in other fields, and fifteen monthly titles, publishing papers of the highest quality and of exceptional impact: Nature Biotechnology, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Chemistry, Nature Climate Change, Nature Communications, Nature Genetics, Nature Geoscience, Nature Immunology, Nature Materials, Nature Medicine, Nature Methods, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Photonics, Nature Physics, Nature Protocolsand Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. These journals are international, being published and printed in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. See here for more information about the relationship between these journals.

Nature and the Nature monthly journals have Impact Factors that are among the highest in the world. The high prestige of these journals brings many rewards to their authors, but also means that competition for publication is severe, so many submissions have to be declined without peer-review.

The Nature journals differ from most other journals in that they do not have editorial boards, but are instead run by professional editors who consult widely among the scientific community in making decisions about publication of papers. This article is to provide you with an overview of the general editorial processes of these unique journals. Although the journals are broadly similar and share editorial policies, all authors should consult the author information pages of the specific Nature journal before submitting, to obtain detailed information on criteria for publication and manuscript preparation for that journal, as some differences exist.

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Editorial Process

The following sections summarise the journals' editorial processes and describe how manuscripts are handled by editors between submission and publication. At all stages of the process, you can access the online submission system and find the status of your manuscript.

Presubmission enquiries

Researchers may obtain informal feedback from editors before submitting the whole manuscript. This service is intended to save you time — if the editors feel it would not be suitable, you can submit the manuscript to another journal without delay. If you wish to use the presubmission enquiry service, please use the online system of the journal of your choice to send a paragraph explaining the importance of your manuscript, as well as the abstract or summary paragraph with its associated citation list so the editors may judge the manuscript in relation to other related work. The editors will quickly either invite you to submit the whole manuscript (which does not mean any commitment to publication), or will say that it is not suitable for the journal. If you receive a negative response, please do not reply. If you are convinced of the importance of your manuscript despite editors' reservations, you may submit the whole manuscript using the journal's online submission system. The editors can then make a more complete assessment of your work.

Initial submission

When you are ready to submit the manuscript, please use the online submission system for the journal concerned. When the journal receives your manuscript, it will be assigned a number and an editor, who reads the manuscript, seeks informal advice from scientific advisors and editorial colleagues, and compares your submission to other recently published papers in the field. If the manuscript seems novel and arresting, and the work described has both immediate and far-reaching implications, the editor will send it out for peer review, usually to two or three independent specialists. However, because the journals can publish only a few of the manuscripts in the field or subfield concerned, many manuscripts have to be declined without peer review even though they may describe solid scientific results.

Transfers between Nature journals

In some cases, an editor is unable to offer publication, but might suggest that the manuscript is more suitable for one of the other Nature journals. If you wish to resubmit your manuscript to the suggested journal, you can simply follow the link provided by the editor to transfer your manuscript and the reviewers' comments to the new journal. This process is entirely in your control: you can choose not to use this service and instead to submit your manuscript to any other Nature or Research journal, with or without including the reviewers' comments if you wish, using the journal's usual online submission service. For more information, please see the manuscript transfers page.

Peer review

The corresponding author is notified by email when an editor decides to send a manuscript for review. The editors choose referees for their independence, ability to evaluate the technical aspects of the paper fully and fairly, whether they are currently or recently assessing related submissions, and whether they can review the manuscript within the short time requested.

You may suggest referees for your manuscript (including address details), so long as they are independent scientists. These suggestions are often helpful, although they are not always followed. Editors will honour your requests to exclude a limited number of named scientists as reviewers.

Decisions and revisions

If the editor invites you to revise your manuscript, you should include with your resubmitted version a new cover letter that includes a point-by-point response to the reviewers' and editors' comments, including an explanation of how you have altered your manuscript in response to these, and an estimation of the length of the revised version with figures/tables. The decision letter will specify a deadline, and revisions that are returned within this period will retain their original submission date.

Additional supplementary information is published with the online version of your article if the editors and referees have judged that it is essential for the conclusions of the article (for example, a large table of data or the derivation of a model) but of more specialist interest than the rest of the article. Editors encourage authors whose articles describe methods to provide a summary of the method for the print version and to include full details and protocols online. Authors are also encouraged to post the full protocol on Nature Protocols' Protocol Exchange, which as well as a protocols database provides an online forum for readers in the field to add comments, suggestions and refinements to the published protocols.

After acceptance

Your accepted manuscript is prepared for publication by copy editors (also called subeditors), who refine it so that the text and figures are readable and clear to those outside the immediate field; choose keywords to maximize visibility in online searches as well as suitable for indexing services; and ensure that the manuscripts conform to house style. The copy editors are happy to give advice to authors whose native language is not English, and will edit those papers with special care.

After publication

All articles are published in the print edition and, in PDF and HTML format, in the online edition of the journal, in full. Many linking and navigational services are provided with the online (HTML) version of all articles published by the Nature journals.

All articles and contact details of corresponding authors are included in our press release service, which means that your work is drawn to the attention of all the main media organizations in the world, who may choose to feature the work in newspaper and other media reports. Some articles are summarized and highlighted within Nature and Nature Research publications and subject-specific websites.

Journals published by Nature Research do not ask authors for copyright, but instead ask you to sign an exclusive publishing license. This allows you to archive the accepted version of your manuscript six months after publication on your own, your institution's, and your funder's websites.

Disagreements with decisions

If a journal's editors are unable to offer publication of a manuscript and have not invited resubmission, you are strongly advised to submit your manuscript for publication elsewhere. However, if you believe that the editors or reviewers have seriously misunderstood your manuscript, you may write to the editors, explaining the scientific reasons why you believe the decision was incorrect. Please bear in mind that editors prioritise newly submitted manuscripts and manuscripts where resubmission has been invited, so it can take several weeks before letters of disagreement can be answered. During this time, you must not submit your manuscript elsewhere. In the interests of publishing your results without unnecessary delay, we therefore advise you to submit your manuscript to another journal if it has been declined, rather than to spend time on corresponding further with the editors of the declining journal.

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About advance online publication

Nature journals offer Advance Online Publication (AOP).

We believe that AOP is the best and quickest way to publish high-quality, peer-reviewed research for the benefit of readers and authors. Papers published AOP are the definitive version: they do not change before appearing in print and can be referenced formally as soon as they appear on the journal's AOP website. In addition, Nature publishes some papers each week via an Accelerated Article Preview (AAP) workflow. For these papers, we upload the accepted manuscript to our website as an AAP PDF, without subediting of text, figures or tables, but with some preliminary formatting. AAP papers are clearly indicated by a watermark on each page of the online PDF.

Each journal's website includes an AOP table of contents, in which papers are listed in order of publication date (beginning with the most recent). Each paper carries a digital object identifier (DOI), which serves as a unique electronic identification tag for that paper. As soon as the issue containing the paper is printed, papers will be removed from the AOP table of contents, assigned a page number and transferred to that issue's table of contents on the website. The DOI remains attached to the paper to provide a persistent identifier.

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Journals' AOP timetable

Nature publishes many, but not all, papers AOP, on Mondays and Wednesdays.

For the monthly Nature journals publishing primary research, new articles are uploaded to the AOP section of their web sites once each week. Occasionally, an article may be uploaded on other days.

The monthly Nature Reviews journals also upload new articles to the AOP section of their web sites once each week.

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Frequently asked questions

Q. Which articles are published AOP?

A. Original research is published AOP — that is, Articles and Letters, and for the Nature journals that publish them, Brief Communications. Associated News and Views articles may be published with the AOP Article or Letter or when the papers are published in the print/online edition of the journal. Nature occasionally publishes other article types AOP, for example News and Commentaries. 

Q. Is the AOP version of the article definitive?

A. Yes. Only the final version of the paper is published AOP, exactly as it will be published in the printed edition. The paper is thus complete in every respect except that instead of having a volume/issue/page number, it has a DOI (digital object identifier). This means that the paper can be referenced as soon as it appears on the AOP site by using the DOI. Nature also publishes some papers each week via an Accelerated Article Preview workflow, where the accepted version of the paper is uploaded as a PDF to our website without subediting of text, figures and tables, but with some preliminary formatting. These papers are clearly identified by a watermark on each page of the PDF.

Q. What is a Digital Object Identifier?

A. The DOI is an international, public, "persistent identifier of intellectual property entities" in the form of a combination of numbers and letters. For Nature Research journals, the DOI is assigned to an item of editorial content, providing a unique and persistent identifier for that item. The DOI system is administered by the International DOI Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. CrossRef, another not-for-profit organization, uses the DOI as a reference linking standard, enables cross-publisher linking, and maintains the lookup system for DOIs. Nature Research is a member of CrossRef.

Q. What do the numbers in the DOI signify?

A. The DOI has two components, a prefix (before the slash) and a suffix (after the slash). The prefix is a DOI resolver server identifer (10) and a unique identifier assigned to the publisher—for example, the identifier for Nature Research is 1038 and the entire DOI prefix for an article published by Nature Research is 10.1038. The suffix is an arbitrary number provided by the publisher. It can be composed of numbers and/or letters and does not necessarily have any systematic significance. Each DOI is registered in a central resolution database that associates it with one or more corresponding web locations (URLs). For example, the DOI 10.1038/ng571 connects to http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng571.

Q. Can I use the DOI in a reference citation?

A. Yes, instead of giving the volume and page number, you can give the paper's DOI at the end of the citation. For example, Nature papers should be cited in the form;

Author(s) Nature advance online publication, day month year (DOI 10.1038/natureXXX).

After print publication, you should give the DOI as well as the print citation, to enable readers to find the paper in print as well as online. For example;

Author(s) Nature volume, page (year); advance online publication, day month year (DOI 10.1038/natureXXX).

Q. How can I use a DOI to find a paper?

A. There are two ways:

  1. DOIs from other articles can be embedded into the linking coding of an article's reference section. In Nature journals these appear as "|Article|" in the reference sections. When |Article| is clicked, it opens another browser window leading to the entrance page (often the abstract) for another article. Depending on the source of the article, this page can be on the Nature Research's site or a site of another publisher. This service is enabled by CrossRef.
  2. A DOI can be inserted directly into the browser. For example, for the DOI 10.1038/ng571, typing http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng571 brings up the entrance page of the article.

Q. What is the official publication date?

A. Many journals, and most abstracting and indexing services (including Medline and Thomson-Reuters) cite the print date as the publication date. Publishers usually state both the 'online publication date' and the 'print publication date'. Nature Research publishes both dates for our own papers, in the hope that scientific communities, as well as abstracting and indexing services, will recognize these dates.

We endeavour to include both the online publication date and the usual print citation in reference lists of Nature Research papers, where a paper has been published online before being published in print. Given the use of the DOI in locating an online publication in the future, we encourage authors to use DOIs in reference citations.

For legal purposes (for example, establishing intellectual property rights), we assume that online publication constitutes public disclosure. But this is for the courts to decide; Nature Research's role as a publisher is to provide clear documentation of the publication history, online and in print.

Q. Must I be a subscriber to read AOP articles?

A. Yes. AOP papers are the same as those in the print/online issues: while abstracts are freely available on any Nature Research journal's web site, access to the full-text article requires a paid subscription or a site license.

Q. Does Medline use DOIs?

A. Medline currently captures DOIs with online publication dates in its records, and is developing an enhanced level of support for the DOI system.

Q. Does Thomson-Reuters use DOIs?

A. Thomson Reuters captures DOIs in its records at the same time as the volume/issue/page number. Therefore, it is not using the DOI to capture information before print publication, but rather as an additional piece of metadata.

Q. How does AOP affect the Impact Factor?

A. Impact factors are calculated by Thomson-Reuters. At present, Thomson-Reuters bases its calculations on the date of print publication alone, so until or unless it changes its policy, AOP has no effect on impact factors.

Q. What are the page numbers in PDFs of AOP papers?

A. For convenience, the PDF version of every AOP article is given a temporary pagination, beginning with page 1. This is unrelated to the final pagination in the printed article.

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