Human behaviour and social sciences studies

Nature Communications is interested in publishing high-quality research that represents important advances for researchers in human behaviour and social sciences.

Studies of differences between groups or individuals on the basis of social, economic, biological or cultural variables are of high interest given their potential to address societal challenges. However, as a journal, we recognise that such studies also have the potential to cause harm (including inadvertently) to the studied groups or individuals and society at large. We encourage authors of these studies to consider the multiple potential implications of their research when describing their findings and contextualise them while keeping those implications in mind.

We strongly encourage study and analysis plan pre-registration both at the point of study design and when additional evidence is sought following feedback from reviewers. We also strongly encourage preprint deposition, and Registered Reports for all human behaviour and social sciences studies.

Authors are required to complete the behavioural and social sciences study design module of the reporting summary before the initial decision to consider the manuscript for peer review is made. Ethics statements should clearly state the nature of the compensation or incentivisation received by participants. As part of their initial evaluation, editors may ask authors to provide copies of study protocols and Institutional Review Board approvals, which may be shared with experts as appropriate. Editors may ask authors to include a statement of impact in their manuscript so the implications of the findings are made clear to referees during the peer-review process and to readers once the manuscript is published. 

When considering human behaviour and social sciences studies heavily reliant on computer-based modelling, editors may decide that a technical review of the code is warranted and will follow our established process for code review.

Editors may seek advice about submitted papers not only from technical reviewers but also on any aspect of a paper that raises concerns. These may include, for example, ethical issues, issues of data or materials access or concerns related to implications for the group under study or broader societal implications of publishing a paper.

We strongly encourage authors of papers in human behaviour and social sciences with health and policy implications to opt-in to our transparent peer review system. Editors might make this a condition for publication in exceptional cases.