Nature Research journals recognize the importance of post-publication commentary on published research as necessary to advancing scientific discourse. Formal post-publication commentary on published papers can involve either challenges or clarifications of the published work and may, after peer review, be published online as Matters Arising, usually alongside a Reply from the original Nature Structural & Molecular Biology authors. Matters Arising are exceptionally interesting and timely scientific comments and clarifications on original research papers published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. These comments should ideally be based on knowledge contemporaneous with the original paper, rather than subsequent scientific developments.
If the submission serves only to identify an important error or mistake in the published paper, it will usually lead to the publication of a clarification statement (correction or retraction, for example). Please contact editorial enquiries for these cases.
In all cases, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology strongly encourages correspondents to first contact the authors of the paper directly, as this can often resolve matters if they arise from a simple misunderstanding.
Matters Arising and Replies are bi-directionally linked with the original published paper.
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology does not consider Matters Arising on papers published in other journals.
Contributions that do not comply with our submission criteria (see sections below) will not be considered.
Manuscript preparation and formatting
Manuscripts (both Matters Arising and Replies) should be formatted according to these instructions.
- The main text should be as concise as possible, and ideally not exceed 1,200 words. Any extended Methods may be reported as Supplementary Information.
- Contributions should start with a brief paragraph that summarizes the message of the article without specialized terminology, for a non-specialist readership. This paragraph should be used as the abstract for submission purposes.
- Contributions should have a simple message that ideally requires only one or two small figures or tables. Complex figures or tables may be presented as Extended Data items (ideally no more than three such items).
- At submission, figures should be of sufficient quality to be assessed by referees, ideally as JPEGs.
- As a guideline, contributions may have up to 15 references; reference style is as for Articles.
- Supplementary Information is permitted at the editor's discretion.
- A competing interests statement is required.
- An author contributions statement is required.
- Before peer review, authors of life sciences contributions that include new data must provide details about elements of experimental and analytical design and 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 contributions.
- Before peer review, the corresponding author must complete an editorial policy checklist to ensure compliance with Nature Research editorial policies. Please note: because of the advanced features used in these forms, you must use Adobe Reader to open the documents and fill them out. Guidance and resources related to the use and reporting of statistics are available here.
Contributions should be submitted using the online submission service: Submit manuscript
Before submitting, all contributors must agree to all of Nature's publication policies.
- All contributions should be measured in tone, and should not contain inflammatory or otherwise intemperate language.
- Comments should ideally have been sent to the authors of the paper under discussion before submission to Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, so that disputes can be resolved directly whenever possible and points on which both parties agree removed from the submitted contribution. If an attempt to contact the original authors has been unsuccessful (for example, no response received after two weeks), this should be indicated at submission.
- Any correspondence should accompany the submission as an attachment clearly labelled as ‘Correspondence with the Nature Structural & Molecular Biology authors'.
The editors will decide how to proceed on the basis of the potential interest to readers, importance and timeliness of the contribution.
Matters Arising submissions that meet Nature Structural & Molecular Biology's initial selection criteria are sent to the authors of the original paper for a formal response. The comments and formal response may then be sent to independent referees.
A Reply is published only when it adds to the debate, and not when it reiterates points already published. It should be confined to replying to the specific issue raised about the published paper.
Authors of the original Nature Structural & Molecular Biology publication must keep the information provided in Matters Arising confidential and must not use it for their own research or for any other purpose apart from replying to the comment, nor can they distribute it without first obtaining Nature Structural & Molecular Biology's permission.
We will not consider appeals against decisions not to publish Matters Arising unless the grounds for appeal consist of a previously overlooked and important scientific point and are clearly explained in these terms. Authors who have had a submission declined are encouraged to post it on an appropriate preprint server.