Editorial & publishing policies

General publishing policies

Please see authors & referees @ npg for detailed information about author and referee services and publication policies of the Nature family of journals. These journals, including Nature Communications, share a number of common policies including the following:

Author responsibilities
Licence agreement and author copyright
Embargo policy and press releases
Use of experimental animals and human subjects
Competing interests
Availability of materials and data
Digital image integrity and standards
Biosecurity concerns
Refutations, complaints and corrections
Duplicate publication
Preprints and conference proceedings
Confidentiality and pre-publicity
Plagiarism and fabrication

Manuscript submission policies

Reporting guidelines

To improve the transparency of reporting and the reproducibility of published results, authors of life sciences, behavioural & social sciences and ecological, evolutionary & environmental sciences research articles must provide a completed reporting summary that will be made available to editors and reviewers during manuscript assessment. The reporting summary will be published with all accepted manuscripts. Guidance and resources related to the use and reporting of statistics are available here.

All authors must also complete an editorial policy checklist to ensure compliance with Nature Research editorial policies.

Please note: because of the advanced features used in this form, you must use Adobe Reader to open the documents and fill them out, instead of opening them in a web browser.

Solar cells reporting summary

Authors of photovoltaic research papers that are sent for external review must include in their manuscripts certain experimental details, and will be asked to confirm that these elements are included in the manuscript by filling out a solar cells reporting summary. This summary will be made available to editors and reviewers during manuscript assessment and will be published with all accepted manuscripts. These requirements aim to improve the transparency and the reproducibility of published results and were designed in consultation with experts of the photovoltaics research community. More details can be found here.

Lasing reporting summary

Authors of research papers with a claim to lasing that are sent for external review must include in their manuscripts relevant details about the experimental design, and will be asked to confirm that these elements are included in the manuscript by filling out a lasing reporting summary. This summary will be made available to editors and reviewers during manuscript assessment and will be published with all accepted manuscripts. The aim is to ensure that common critical information related to the operation of the device is provided to help improve the reporting standards, level of transparency and reproducibility for papers on lasers. More details can be found here.

Code and software submission checklist

Any previously unreported custom computer code used to generate results reported in a manuscript that are central to the main claims must be made available to editors and reviewers upon request. Any practical issues preventing code sharing will be evaluated by the editors who reserve the right to decline the manuscript if important code is unavailable. At publication, Nature journals consider it best practice to release custom computer code in a way that allows readers to repeat the published results.

Authors of such research papers will also be asked to fill out a code and software submission checklist that will be made available to editors and reviewers during manuscript assessment. The aim is to make studies that use such code more reliable by ensuring that all relevant documentation is available and by facilitating testing of software by the reviewers. Further detailed guidance and required documentation at submission and acceptance of the manuscript can be found here.

For all studies using custom code that is deemed central to the conclusions, a statement must be included under the heading "Code availability", indicating whether and how the code can be accessed, including any restrictions to access. Code availability statements should be provided as a separate section after the data availability statement but before the References.

Source data

For relevant manuscripts, we may request a source data file in Microsoft Excel format or a zipped folder. The source data file should, as a minimum, contain the raw data underlying any graphs and charts, and uncropped versions of any gels or blots presented in the figures. Within the source data file, each figure or table (in the main manuscript and in the Supplementary Information) containing relevant data should be represented by a single sheet in an Excel document, or a single .txt file or other file type in a zipped folder. Blot and gel images should be pasted in and labelled with the relevant panel and identifying information such as the antibody used. We also encourage authors to include any other types of raw data that may be appropriate. An example source data file is available demonstrating the correct format.

Support for research data sharing

The Nature Research journals, and many research funding agencies, encourage or require data sharing in repositories. If you need help understanding our data sharing policies, help finding a suitable data repository, or help organising and sharing your research data (including text, raw and processed data, video and images) you should consider:

  • Contacting Springer Nature’s Research Data Support Helpdesk for advice. The helpdesk provides free advice on research data policies of funders, institutions and journals and on finding research data repositories.
  • Finding a suitable data repository for your data from our recommended repository list. Where they are available, community specific repositories are preferred. Unstructured repositories are suitable alternatives if no structured public repositories exist.
  • Uploading your data to Springer Nature’s Research Data Support service.

Research Data Support is an optional Springer Nature service. This service provides custom curation of data and metadata by professional research data editors, guidance on deposition to community-endorsed repositories, and publication in the Springer Nature figshare repository. Use of Research Data Support is optional and does not imply or guarantee that a manuscript will be accepted.

Characterization of chemical and biomolecular materials

Nature Communications is committed to publishing the highest-quality research. Manuscripts submitted to the journal will be held to rigorous standards with respect to experimental methods and characterization of new compounds. Authors must provide adequate data to support their assignment of identity and purity for each new compound described in the manuscript. Authors should provide a statement confirming the source, identity and purity of known compounds that are central to the scientific study, even if they are purchased or resynthesized using published methods.

1. Chemical identity
Chemical identity for organic and organometallic compounds should be established through spectroscopic analysis. Standard peak listings (see formatting guidelines below) for 1H NMR and proton-decoupled 13C NMR should be provided for all new compounds. Other NMR data should be reported (31P NMR, 19F NMR, etc.) when appropriate. For new materials, authors should also provide mass spectral data to support molecular weight identity. High-resolution mass spectral (HRMS) data are preferred. UV or IR spectral data may be reported for the identification of characteristic functional groups, when appropriate. Melting-point ranges should be provided for crystalline materials. Specific rotations may be reported for chiral compounds. Authors should provide references, rather than detailed procedures, for known compounds, unless their protocols represent a departure from or improvement on published methods.

2. Combinatorial compound libraries
Authors describing the preparation of combinatorial libraries should include standard characterization data for a diverse panel of library components.

3. Biomolecular identity
For new biopolymeric materials (oligosaccharides, peptides, nucleic acids, etc.), direct structural analysis by NMR spectroscopic methods may not be possible. In these cases, authors must provide evidence of identity based on sequence (when appropriate) and mass spectral characterization.

4. Biological constructs
Authors should provide sequencing or functional data that validates the identity of their biological constructs (plasmids, fusion proteins, site-directed mutants, etc.) either in the manuscript text or the Methods section, as appropriate.

5. Sample purity
Evidence of sample purity is requested for each new compound. Methods for purity analysis depend on the compound class. For most organic and organometallic compounds, purity may be demonstrated by high-field1H NMR or 13C NMR data, although elemental analysis (±0.4%) is encouraged for small molecules. Quantitative analytical methods including chromatographic (GC, HPLC, etc.) or electrophoretic analyses may be used to demonstrate purity for small molecules and polymeric materials.

6. Spectral data
Detailed spectral data for new compounds should be provided in list form (see below) in the Methods section. Figures containing spectra generally will not be published as a manuscript figure unless the data are directly relevant to the central conclusions of the paper. Authors are encouraged to include high-quality images of spectral data for key compounds in the Supplementary Information. Specific NMR assignments should be listed after integration values only if they were unambiguously determined by multidimensional NMR or decoupling experiments. Authors should provide information about how assignments were made in a general Methods section.

Example format for compound characterization data. mp: 100–102 °C (lit.ref 99–101 °C); TLC (CHCl3:MeOH, 98:2 v/v): Rf = 0.23; [α]D = -21.5 (0.1 M in n-hexane); 1H NMR (400 MHz, CDCl3): δ 9.30 (s, 1H), 7.55–7.41 (m, 6H), 5.61 (d, J = 5.5 Hz, 1H), 5.40 (d, J = 5.5 Hz, 1H), 4.93 (m, 1H), 4.20 (q, J = 8.5 Hz, 2H), 2.11 (s, 3H), 1.25 (t, J = 8.5 Hz, 3H); 13C NMR (125 MHz, CDCl3): δ 165.4, 165.0, 140.5, 138.7, 131.5, 129.2, 118.6, 84.2, 75.8, 66.7, 37.9, 20.1; IR (Nujol): 1765 cm-1; UV/Vis: λmax 267 nm; HRMS (m/z): [M]+ calcd. for C20H15Cl2NO5, 420.0406; found, 420.0412; analysis (calcd., found for C20H15Cl2NO5): C (57.16, 57.22), H (3.60, 3.61), Cl (16.87, 16.88), N (3.33, 3.33), O (19.04, 19.09).

7. Crystallographic data for small molecules
Manuscripts reporting new structures of small molecules from crystallographic analysis should be accompanied by a standard crystallographic information file (.cif) and a structural figure with probability ellipsoids should be included in the main supplementary information file. The structure factors for each structure should also be submitted, preferably embedded in the main .cif file, although they may be provided as a separate .hkl and/or .fcf file. Use of the latest version of the program SHELXL, which embeds the structure factors information in the main .cif file, is encouraged. The structure factors and structural output must be checked using IUCr's CheckCIF routine and a PDF copy of the output included with the submission, explaining any A- or B-level alerts. Crystallographic data for small molecules should be submitted to the Cambridge Structural Database and the deposition number referenced in the manuscript. Full access must be provided on publication.

8. Macromolecular structural data
Manuscripts reporting new structures should contain a table summarizing structural and refinement statistics. Templates for such tables describing cryo-EMNMR and X-ray crystallography data are available here. To facilitate assessment of the quality of the structural data, a stereo image of a portion of the electron density map (for crystallography papers) or of the superimposed lowest energy structures (>10; for NMR papers) should be provided with the submitted manuscript. If the reported structure represents a novel overall fold, a stereo image of the entire structure (as a backbone trace) should also be provided. For cryo-EM structures, a representative micrograph showing individual particles should be provided in the submission.

Competing interests

Authors must disclose competing interests during the submission process. Authors submitting their manuscripts using the journal's online manuscript tracking system are required to make their declaration as part of this process and to specify the competing interests in cases where they exist. More details about the Competing Interests policy can be found here: http://www.nature.com/authors/policies/competing.html