Content Types

On this page: Protocol | Protocol Update | Protocol Extension | CorrespondenceMatters Arising | Perspective | Commentary | Review | Consensus Statement


Protocol is a format for step-by-step descriptions of procedures that users can take to the lab and immediately apply in their own research. All of our protocols have been proven to work already and a supporting primary research paper is a publication requirement. Protocols are externally peer-reviewed and edited in-house to the highest standards. Each protocol contains a full list of reagents and equipment, timing information, and step-by-step instructions for performing the experiment (with critical steps and cautions highlighted), as well as information on designing and adapting the technique, its advantages and limitations compared to alternatives, troubleshooting, analysing data, and interpreting results. We also encourage authors to submit videos for steps that are technically challenging.

Protocol Update

Protocol Update describes a significant improvement to an existing Nature Protocols Protocol that cannot easily be accommodated by an addendum (for example, substantial changes to one part of the procedure or multiple small changes to the entire technique). This article type must have some authors in common with the original Protocol(s) and, wherever possible, all authors must agree to its publication (provided they are contactable). A Protocol Update replaces the associated Protocol (users are encouraged to use the updated version instead). It sits under the ‘Protocols’ heading, has the same format, and is subject to the same editorial policies.

Protocol Extension

Protocol Extension describes an adaptation of an existing Nature Protocols Protocol that substantially modifies the technique or offers additional applications. It can also combine two (or possibly more) existing Protocols to create new applications. This article type does not necessarily have authors in common with the original Protocol(s). A Protocol Extension complements the associated Protocol (does not replace it) by offering a different application/use of the technique. It sits under the ‘Protocols’ heading, has the same format, and is subject to the same editorial policies.


The Correspondence section provides a forum for comment on issues relevant to the journal’s community. This format may not be used for presentation of research data or analysis. A Correspondence should not exceed more than two printed pages and can range from 300-800 words; it is limited to one display item and up to 10 references. Article titles are omitted from the reference list. Correspondence may be peer-reviewed at the editors’ discretion. Note that Correspondence pieces are not technical comments on peer-reviewed protocols, which would be considered Matters Arising.

Matters Arising

Matters Arising are exceptionally interesting and timely scientific comments and clarifications on protocols published in Nature Protocols. These comments should ideally be based on knowledge contemporaneous with the original protocol, rather than subsequent scientific developments.

For detailed information on how to submit a Matters Arising, please follow instructions here.


Perspective is a format for scholarly discussions of the primary research literature, technical accounts of a particular scientific development, or two side-by-side reviews advocating opposite positions on a technological advance. They may be more forward-looking and/or speculative than Review articles and may take a narrower field of view. They may be opinionated but should remain balanced and are intended to stimulate discussion and new experimental approaches. The text should not normally exceed 3,000 words and may be much shorter. As a guideline, Perspectives allow up to 50 references.

Perspectives include received/accepted dates and are always externally peer reviewed and edited in-house. 


Commentary is a very flexible format; Commentaries may be on policy, science and society or purely scientific issues. The main criteria are that they should be of immediate interest to a broad readership and should be written in an accessible, non-technical style. Their length is typically 1-4 pages, although some may be longer. Because the content is variable, the format is also flexible. Commentaries do not normally contain primary research data, although they may present 'sociological' data (funding trends, demographics, bibliographic data, etc.). As a guideline, Commentaries allow up to 25 references, and article titles are omitted from the reference list.

Commentaries may be peer reviewed at the editors' discretion.


A Review can be either an authoritative, balanced and scholarly survey of different methodological approaches (Comparative Analysis Review) or a detailed discussion of experimental design considerations for using a particular technology or technique (Tutorial Review). Reviews should have a strong functional component, highlight practical questions that are likely to arise for researchers undertaking the application of the technology, and provide information to guide their choices. The requirement for balance need not prevent authors from proposing a specific viewpoint, but authors must also present alternative approaches. Reviews are normally 3,000-4,000 words, and illustrations are strongly encouraged. As a guideline, Reviews allow up to 100 references. Citations should be selective and, in the case of particularly important studies (≤ 10% of all the references), we encourage authors to provide short annotations explaining why these are key contributions. The scope of a Review should be broad enough that it is not dominated by the work of a single laboratory, and particularly not by the authors' own work.

Reviews are always externally peer reviewed (to ensure factual accuracy, appropriate citations and scholarly balance) and edited in-house.

Consensus Statement

Consensus Statement articles are comprehensive analyses - and their agreed outcomes - by a panel of experts on a scientific or medical issue. They are externally peer reviewed and edited in-house. Further guidance is available in this formatting guide.