Submission guidelines

This section provides information on preparing your manuscript for submission, including how to format and construct specific sections of your paper. Click on the section indicated to jump straight to the relevant information. These guidelines are exhaustive; however, if your question is not answered below, you are welcome to contact the editorial team.

Making a submission

All submissions (initial and revised) must be made via the journal’s online system – submissions by email are not permitted.

Submissions must comprise the following:

Authors are asked to separate any figures files from the main manuscript text - with figure legends listed at the end of the paper, or included as place holders among the main text. Tables may be included in the main manuscript file either within the text or at the end of the document. Papers can include a total of no more than 12 display items (comprising figures, tables or boxes). Supplementary Information should be combined and supplied as a separate, single file.

File formats

Please ensure your submitted files are in an accepted format. If a paper is submitted in an unsupported file type it may be returned to you after an initial screening by the editorial team.

Articles

We only accept the following file formats:

  • doc; docx; TeX.

Authors submitting LaTeX files may use any of the standard class files such as article.cls, revtex.cls or amsart.cls. Non-standard fonts should be avoided; please use the default Computer Modern fonts. For the inclusion of graphics, we recommend graphicx.sty. References should be included within the manuscript file itself as our system cannot accept BibTeX bibliography files. Authors who wish to use BibTeX to prepare their references should therefore copy the reference list from the .bbl file that BibTeX generates and paste it into the main manuscript .tex file (and delete the associated \bibliography and \bibliographystyle commands). As a final precaution, authors should ensure that the complete .tex file compiles successfully on their own system with no errors or warnings, before submission.

Figures and tables

We only accept the following file formats:

  • psd; ai; eps; tiff; jpg; pdf (vector enabled); png; ps; gif; ppt; pptx; bmp; vsd; cdx; svg; emf; xlsx.

We can accept files that have been compressed into one of these formats where the contents of the folder are one of the other accepted file types listed: zip; 7zip; rar.

All figures should be uploaded as separate files and not included in the article text. Figure sub-sections (e.g., Fig 1a, 1b) should not be split into separate files, but be combined into one single file per figure.

Preparing figures for initial submissions (peer review)

Figures should be uploaded on submission via our online submission system, in one of our preferred formats. Please use the smallest file size that provides sufficient resolution for their content to be clearly legible, preferably less than 1 MB, so that referees do not have to download extremely large files. They should be supplied at 300 dpi or greater.

Preparing figures for final publication

When possible, we prefer to use original digital figures to ensure the highest-quality reproduction in the journal. For optimal results, prepare figures to fit either one (87mm wide) or two columns (180mm wide). When creating and submitting digital files, please follow the guidelines below. Failure to do so, or to adhere to the following guidelines, can significantly delay publication of your work.

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any figures or illustrations that are protected by copyright.

  • Line art, graphs, charts and schematics:
    • All line art, graphs, charts and schematics should be supplied in vector format, such as EPS (preferred), and should be saved or exported as such directly from the application in which they were made.
    • They should not be saved as bitmaps, jpegs or other non-vector file types unless strictly necessary.
  • Photographic and bitmapped images:
    • All photographic and bitmapped images should be supplied in TIFF (preferred) or JPEG format at 300 DPI if possible. A single column width measures 88 mm and a double column width measures 180
    • mm. Please do not supply Word or Powerpoint files with placed images. Images can be supplied as RGB or CMYK (note: we will not convert image colour modes).
    • Please do not scan laser printouts of figures and send them to us as digital files. The dot pattern on a laser print often creates a moiré pattern when scanned.

Figures that do not meet these standards will not reproduce well and may delay publication until we receive high-resolution versions.

Supplementary information

With the exception of spreadsheet, audio and video files, please submit the Supplementary Information as a single combined word file or pdf if possible (in the order figures, tables and text).

If necessary, we can also accept any of these formats:

  • txt; .gif; .html; doc; .jpg; .swf; .mov; .xls; .pdf; .ppt; .wav.

Xml and rar files cannot be considered.

Anonymisation of manuscript files

The journal conducts double-blind peer review. All initial submissions must therefore be anonymised.

This includes removing identifying information in acknowledgements, conflicts or funding statements.

Where possible authors should remove or redact direct identifying information in the main body of the paper. Anonymised references can be used, if required.

Author information

When requested to include author information in your submission (e.g., at the point of acceptance for publication), we ask that only the following details are provided:

  • Author names;
  • Indication of corresponding author including email address;
  • Affiliations (institution and country only).

Authors should not include: job titles, qualifications and biographies.

All authors listed must satisfy our criteria for authorship (see guidance on author responsibilities).

ORCID identifiers

Authors who wish to include ORCID identifiers in the published version of a paper must update their own user profile on the journal’s manuscript submission system (the editorial team cannot do this on an author’s behalf), by following these steps:

  1. Log onto the journal’s submission system;
  2. Click on ‘Modify my Springer Nature Account’ link to access your profile;
  3. Add your ORCID information in the relevant field.

ORCID information must be added before a paper is accepted for publication. It cannot be added afterwards.

ORCID identifiers included in the manuscript file alone, and not in the submission system, as above, will not be added to the final published paper.

Language

The journal is read by academics and researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Many are not native English speakers. Authors should, therefore, give careful thought to communicating their findings and ideas clearly. Although a basic knowledge may be assumed, please bear in mind that the language and concepts that are standard in one field may be unfamiliar to non-specialists. Thus, technical jargon should be avoided as far as possible and clearly explained where its use is unavoidable.

Authors should use UK English spelling.

Manuscripts in which the clarity of the written English is insufficient to permit initial assessment or peer review will be returned to the authors with a request to proof read the text.

Abbreviations, particularly those that are not standard, should also be kept to a minimum. Where unavoidable, abbreviations should be defined in the text or legends at their first occurrence, and abbreviations should be used thereafter. The background, rationale and main conclusions of the study should be clearly explained. Titles and abstracts in particular should be written in language that will be readily intelligible to any academic or researcher. We urge authors to ask a colleague with different expertise to review the manuscript before submission, in order to identify concepts and terminology that may present difficulties to non-specialist readers.

Manuscripts accepted for publication in the journal are not subject to in-depth copyediting as part of the typesetting and production process. Authors are responsible for procuring copy-editing or language editing services for their manuscripts, either before submission, or at the revision stage, should they feel these would benefit their work.

Writing in English

For editors and reviewers to accurately assess the work presented in your manuscript you need to ensure the English language is of sufficient quality to be understood. If you need help with writing in English you should consider:

  • Exploring this collection of free resources offering advice on writing in English;
  • Asking a colleague who is a native English speaker to review your manuscript for clarity; 
  • Using a professional language editing service where editors will improve the English to ensure that your meaning is clear and identify problems that require your review. Two such services are provided by our affiliates Nature Research Editing Service and American Journal Experts. Springer Nature authors receive 10% off their first submission to either service. 

Please note that the use of a language editing service is neither a requirement for publication in this journal, nor does it imply or guarantee that the article will be selected for peer review or accepted.

Cover letter

Authors should provide a cover letter that includes, as appropriate, the following:

  • The affiliation and contact information for (at least) the corresponding author;
  • A clear statement of why the paper meets the journal's criteria for publication;
  • An indication of whether the paper is being submitted for a Guest-Edited Collection (only if relevant);
  • An indication of whether the authors have had any prior discussions with one of the journal’s Editors about the work described.

The names of suggested reviewers or those to be excluded should be added in the manuscript submission system when prompted. Including them in the cover letter alone may mean they are overlooked.

Any sections removed from the main article file for anonymisation purposes (e.g., acknowledgements, conflicts statements, etc) can be added to the end of the cover letter for the attention of the Editors.

Rebuttal letter

All revised papers (unless indicated otherwise by the Editor) should be uploaded with a rebuttal letter. This should take the form of a point-by-point response to all of the requested revisions requested by the Editor and/or reviewer(s), with a clear description of any changes made in the revised paper.

The rebuttal letter must be anonymised.

Writing a rebuttal letter

The response to the reviewers’ comments is one of the most important parts of your revised manuscript submission. This is where you should describe the work you have done in revision, and clear up any points of misunderstanding from the first round of review. Writing an effective response helps the reviewers and the Editor assess your revised manuscript, and it is important to make the most of this opportunity to showcase how your paper has improved and developed.

If the rebuttal letter is not clearly structured or information is lacking it will be returned to you for amendment.

Letter structure

  • We request you use a point-by-point response format. That is, you provide a specific response to each point made by each reviewer. This allows the reviewer and the Editor to easily see how you have addressed each issue that was raised;
  • While point-by-point detail is critical, it is also important to provide a concise overview of the most important revisions made. This should be provided as an introduction to the more detailed response, with the purpose of telling the reviewer and Editor what you focused on when revising the manuscript.

Tips and suggestions

  • Mark all revisions in your paper in colour or bold text. If you use multiple colours for different referees, make clear in the letter to which referees each colour refers.
  • In your overview, be sure to address any points that were specifically flagged by the Editor in the decision letter;
  • When writing your point-by-point response, include all of the reviewers’ comments as they provided them. After each reviewer comment, provide your response before moving onto the next;
  • Make sure to respond to all points. If you were unable to address a particular point, provide a clear and well-reasoned rationale for why;
  • You may not agree with all of the reviewers’ points, and it is fine to provide your perspective on the issues raised provided you keep the tone of your response professional and constructive and your arguments grounded in academic reasoning;
  • While specificity is important, so is brevity in presentation. Please keep your responses concise and to the point;
  • Rather than including figures or replicating blocks of text from the manuscript in your response, point to the specific place in the revised manuscript that contains the relevant information.

Article categories and word counts

The journal publishes three article categories; all are subject to the same peer review processes.

Article

An Article describes original research. Articles may range in length from short communications through to more in-depth studies. Regardless of the length, an Article represents research that makes an original contribution to the literature.

We do not impose strict word length limits, but request that Articles should be no more than approximately 8000 words (excluding abstract, tables, figure legends and references).

Review

A Review is an authoritative, balanced and scholarly survey of recent developments in a clearly defined area of research. Although Reviews should be recognised as scholarly by specialists in the field, they should be written with a view to informing non-specialist readers. Thus, Reviews should be presented using simple prose, avoiding excessive jargon and technical detail.

We do not impose strict word length limits, but request that Reviews should be no more than approximately 8000 words (excluding abstract, tables, figure legends and references).

Comment

A Comment should offer a focused argument on a specific issue. In doing so it may take different forms, including: agenda-setting analyses or calls to action, or novel perspectives on topical issues. Authors are encouraged to write in a colourful, authoritative voice, at a level accessible to the journal's global, multi- and inter-disciplinary readership; ideas and arguments should be underpinned by reference to the surrounding academic literature. Papers that merely summarise the findings of research projects, or are adapted versions of previously published papers, or which restate existing knowledge with no original contribution, will not be considered for peer review. Comments should not exceed 4000 words (excluding references).

Manuscript title

All submissions must include a title on the first page of the manuscript file. The title must be identical to that included in the submission system.

Titles should be descriptive of the main findings, ideas or arguments presented, giving the reader a clear sense of the paper's content. Verbose or opaque titles should be avoided.

We discourage the use of active verbs; punctuation is not allowed. Titles should not exceed 150 characters (including spaces) or be in block capitals.

Abstract

All submissions must include an abstract on the first page of the manuscript file. The abstract must be identical to that included in the submission system.

Abstracts can take different forms and we are happy for authors to adopt a structure that best conveys the essence of the paper in question. They should be clear, concise, and provide sufficient detail to be understood in isolation of the paper.

A suggested generic formula is as follows:

  • Background context (e.g. for the general reader);
  • Specific knowledge gap the work aims to fill and/or the research question explored;
  • Methods or approach used;
  • Key findings, conclusions or observations (where possible findings should be given in context or, if applicable, quantified);
  • Implications or applications of the work.

Abstracts should not exceed 350 words, and cannot contain subheadings or references.

In abstracts, we request that the ‘first person’ be avoided, even for single-authored papers. This does not apply to the main body of papers.

Manuscript structure

All articles are unique but as a general rule the main text should comprise the following, as appropriate:

See this section for details on file types that are supported.

*Figures must be uploaded as separate files (one per figure) and accompanying legends should be included in the main article file. If any figures contain sub-sections (e.g. parts a, b, etc), these should be grouped together in one file. Any supplementary information should be combined and supplied as a single separate file.

Methods

Where applicable, authors must ensure that their Methods section includes adequate experimental or methodological information necessary for others in the field to reproduce their work. Descriptions of standard protocols and methods should be given. Any manuscript reporting an experiment/s involving humans must include a statement of ethical approval in the Methods section.

Statistical guidelines

Every article that contains statistical testing should state the name of the statistical test, the n value for each statistical analysis, the comparisons of interest, a justification for the use of that test (including, for example, a discussion of the normality of the data when the test is appropriate only for normal data), the alpha level for all tests, whether the tests were one-tailed or two-tailed, and the actual P value for each test (not merely "significant" or "P < 0.05"). It should be clear what statistical test was used to generate every P value. Use of the word "significant" should always be accompanied by a P value; otherwise, use "substantial," "considerable," etc.

Datasets should be summarized with descriptive statistics, which should include the n value for each data set, a clearly labelled measure of centre (such as the mean or the median), and a clearly labelled measure of variability (such as standard deviation or range). Ranges are more appropriate than standard deviations or standard errors for small data sets. Graphs should include clearly labelled error bars. Authors must state whether a number that follows the ± sign is a standard error (s.e.m.) or a standard deviation (s.d.).

Authors must justify the use of a particular test and explain whether their data conform to the assumptions of the tests. Three errors are particularly common:

  • Multiple comparisons: When making multiple statistical comparisons on a single data set, authors should explain how they adjusted the alpha level to avoid an inflated Type I error rate, or they should select statistical tests appropriate for multiple groups (such as ANOVA rather than a series of t-tests);
  • Normal distribution: Many statistical tests require that the data be approximately normally distributed; when using these tests, authors should explain how they tested their data for normality. If the data do not meet the assumptions of the test, then a non-parametric alternative should be used instead;
  • Small sample size: When the sample size is small (less than about ten), authors should use tests appropriate to small samples or justify their use of large-sample tests.

References and endnotes

All submissions should follow the journal's style of in-text parenthetical citations, followed by a complete list of works cited at the end of the paper. The journal does not permit numbered referencing. Authors should ensure that all references cited in the article text are included in a reference list at the end of the paper. 

References will not be copy-edited prior to publication. All cited references will be linked electronically to external databases where possible, making correct formatting of the references essential. Incorrectly formatted references may result in errors or delays in the typesetting and publication process.

The journal permits the use of numbered endnotes (not footnotes) to amplify points made in the main text or to provide important additional information. Endnotes cannot be used in place of references.

If the manuscript includes personal communications, authors should provide a written statement of permission (e-mail format, if permissible) from any person who is quoted, with their submission. The personal communication should be indicated by an endnote.

Please use the referencing style outlined:

Type

Example

Journal article

Smith J, Jones M Jr, Houghton L et al (1999) Future of health insurance. N Engl J Med 965:325–329

Inclusion of issue number (optional)

Saunders DS (1976) The biological clock of insects. Sci Am 234(2):114–121

Journal article with DOI (and with page numbers)

Slifka MK, Whitton JL (2000) Clinical implications of dysregulated cytokine production. J Mol Med 78:74–80. https://doi.org/10.1007/s001090000086

Journal article by DOI (before issue publication with page numbers)

Slifka MK, Whitton JL (2000) Clinical implications of dysregulated cytokine production. J Mol Med. https://doi.org/10.1007/s001090000086

Article in electronic journal by DOI (no paginated version)

Slifka MK, Whitton JL (2000) Clinical implications of dysregulated cytokine production. Dig J Mol Med. https://doi.org/10.1007/s801090000086

Journal issue with issue editor

Smith J (ed) (1998) Rodent genes. Mod Genomics J 14(6):126–233

Journal issue with no issue editor

Mod Genomics J (1998) Rodent genes. Mod Genomics J 14(6):126–233

Artwork

Author last name First initial (Year created) Title. [Medium]. City that the artwork is/was displayed in: Gallery or Museum.

Book chapter

Brown B, Aaron M (2001) The politics of nature. In: Smith J (ed) The rise of modern genomics, 3rd edn. Wiley, New York, p 234–295

Book, authored

South J, Blass B (2001) The future of modern genomics. Blackwell, London

Book, edited

Smith J, Brown B (eds) (2001) The demise of modern genomics. Blackwell, London

Book, also showing a translated edition (either edition may be listed first)

Adorno TW (1966) Negative Dialektik. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt. English edition: Adorno TW (1973) Negative dialectics (trans: Ashton EB). Routledge, London

Chapter in a book in a series without volume titles

Schmidt H (1989) Testing results. In: Hutzinger O (ed) Handbook of environmental chemistry, vol 2E. Springer, Heidelberg, p 111

Chapter in a book in a series with volume titles

Smith SE (1976) Neuromuscular blocking drugs in man. In: Zaimis E (ed) Neuromuscular junction. Handbook of experimental pharmacology, vol 42. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 593–660

Magazine article

Smith J (2019) Digital revolution. Time Magazine (3):11-22.

 

Published research dataset with a persistent identifier

 

Hao Z, AghaKouchak A, Nakhjiri N, Farahmand A (2014) Global Integrated Drought Monitoring and Prediction System (GIDMaPS) Datasets. figshare. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.853801.

OnlineFirst chapter in a series (without a volume designation but with a DOI)

Saito Y, Hyuga H (2007) Rate equation approaches to amplification of enantiomeric excess and chiral symmetry breaking. Top Curr Chem. https://doi.org/10.1007/128_2006_108

Proceedings as a book (in a series and subseries)

Zowghi D et al (1996) A framework for reasoning about requirements in evolution. In: Foo N, Goebel R (eds) PRICAI'96: topics in artificial intelligence. 4th Pacific Rim conference on artificial intelligence, Cairns, August 1996. Lecture notes in computer science (Lecture notes in artificial intelligence), vol 1114. Springer, Heidelberg, p 157

Proceedings with an editor (without a publisher)

Aaron M (1999) The future of genomics. In: Williams H (ed) Proceedings of the genomic researchers, Boston, 1999

Proceedings without an editor (without a publisher)

Chung S-T, Morris RL (1978) Isolation and characterization of plasmid deoxyribonucleic acid from Streptomyces fradiae. In: Abstracts of the 3rd international symposium on the genetics of industrial microorganisms, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 4–9 June 1978

Paper presented at a conference

Chung S-T, Morris RL (1978) Isolation and characterization of plasmid deoxyribonucleic acid from Streptomyces fradiae. Paper presented at the 3rd international symposium on the genetics of industrial microorganisms, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 4–9 June 1978

Patent (name and date of the patent are optional)

Norman LO (1998) Lightning rods. US Patent 4,379,752, 9 Sept 1998

Dissertation

Trent JW (1975) Experimental acute renal failure. Dissertation, University of California

Institutional author (book)

International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee (1966) Nomina anatomica. Excerpta Medica, Amsterdam

Non-English, Latin alphabet publication cited in an English publication (use the language of the primary document, not that of the reference for "vol" etc)

Wolf GH, Lehman P-F (1976) Atlas der Anatomie, vol 4/3, 4th edn. Fischer, Berlin

Non-Latin alphabet publication cited in an English publication (transliterated title required; original title in original alphabet and English translation are optional and placed in parentheses when present)

Marikhin VY, Myasnikova LP (1977) Nadmolekulyarnaya struktura polimerov (The supramolecular structure of polymers). Khimiya, Leningrad

In press (accepted for publication only; note that we do not permit unpublished academic papers to be cited)

Major M et al (2007) Recent developments. In: Jones W (ed) Surgery today. Springer, Dordrecht (in press)

Online document

Doe J (1999) Title of subordinate document. In: The dictionary of substances and their effects. Royal Society of Chemistry. Available via DIALOG. http://www.rsc.org/dose/title of subordinate document. Accessed 15 Jan 1999

Online database

Healthwise Knowledgebase (1998) US Pharmacopeia, Rockville. http://www.healthwise.org. Accessed 21 Sept 1998

Archive material

 

Author last name First initial (Year published) Title of the material. [format] Name of the university, library, organization, Collection name, code, or number. City.

Supplementary material/private homepage

Doe J (2000) Title of supplementary material. http://www.privatehomepage.com. Accessed 22 Feb 2000

University site

Doe J (1999) Title of preprint. http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/mydata.html. Accessed 25 Dec 1999

FTP site

Doe J (1999) Trivial HTTP, RFC2169. ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc2169.txt. Accessed 12 Nov 1999

Organisation website

ISSN International Centre (2006) The ISSN register. http://www.issn.org. Accessed 20 Feb 2007

Acknowledgements

Authors may add an acknowledgements section at the end of their paper. This should be brief, and should not include thanks to anonymous referees and editors, or effusive comments. Grant or contribution numbers should be included in this section. Assistance from medical writers, proof-readers and editors should also be acknowledged here.

For initial submissions, if the acknowledgements section identifies the authors, we ask that you instead include this information in your cover letter or redact it to prevent double-blind review being compromised.

Author contributions

Authors may designate of up to six equally contributing authors, up to six joint supervisors, and up to three corresponding authors. Any requests to include more equally contributing, supervising, or corresponding authors are reviewed by the Editor. When applicable, equally contributing and jointly supervising authors should be clearly indicated in the manuscript, using the exact wording: ‘These authors contributed equally to this work’, or, ‘These authors jointly supervised this work’. For corresponding authors the following wording should be used: ‘Corresponding author’ followed by ‘Correspondence to:’

Authors may include a section entitled 'Author contributions' for any more detailed or nuanced statements.

For initial submissions, any author contributions statement can be included at the end of the cover letter or redacted to prevent double-blind review being compromised.

All authors listed must satisfy our criteria for authorship (see guidance on author responsibilities).

Competing interests

A competing interests statement is required for all submitted papers. If there is no conflict of interest, a statement declaring this must still be included in the paper.

Any statement must be explicit and unambiguous, describing any potential competing interest (or lack thereof) for each contributing author.

For initial submissions, if the competing interests section identifies the authors, we ask that you instead include this information in your cover letter or redact it to prevent double-blind review being compromised.

Statement template:

Competing interests
The author(s) declare no competing interests.

Competing interests
Dr X's work has been funded by A. He has received compensation as a member of the advisory board of B and owns stock in the company. He also has consulted for C and received compensation. Dr Y and Dr Z declare no potential conflict of interest.

Learn more about what we consider a competing interest.

Data availability

All articles must include a ‘data availability’ statement after the references section. Here ‘data’ refers to any materials or information that underpin a body of research, whether generated or analysed by the authors. ‘Data’ can be quantitative (e.g., numerical) or qualitative (e.g., interview transcripts, images etc) in nature. If no data were generated or analysed then this must be stated in the paper.

Data sharing

We encourage authors to deposit datasets or supporting information that underpin their study in a relevant public repository, where possible. In these cases, the ‘data availability’ statement should include a link to and citation of any deposited files (more guidance on repositories that are available can be found in our guidance on availability of materials and data).

We recognise it is not always possible to share research data publicly, for instance when individual privacy could be compromised, and in such instances data availability should still be stated in the manuscript along with any conditions for access.

For initial submissions deposition of materials in a repository may result in the authors’ identities being visible, thereby undermining double-blind peer review. In such cases we recommend uploading materials as supplementary files via the submission system for the purposes of peer review. Deposition of materials and data can then take place later in the publication process.

Statement templates

Data availability statements can take one of the following forms (or a combination of more than one if required for multiple datasets):

  1. The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the [NAME] repository, [PERSISTENT WEB LINK TO DATASETS]
  2. The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due [REASON WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC] but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
  3. Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.
  4. All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article.

An example of a data availability statement can be found in the paper by Shutters et al. (2015).

While deposition of data in specialised public repositories (statement #1) is the preferred approach wherever possible, in principle all authors who generate or analyse research data are expected to comply with #2, which is the minimum journal policy.

The journal’s editorial team carries out appropriate checks to ascertain whether non-availability of data is for legitimate reasons.

More details on the journal's policy on data availability are outlined here.

Figures

Authors can include up to 12 display items (i.e. figures or tables) in total in their paper.

Figures that do not meaningfully complement or amplify ideas discussed in the main body of the article should not be included.

Figure legends

Figure legends should begin with a brief title sentence for the whole figure and continue with a short description of what is shown, for instance, in each panel in sequence, and any symbols used; methodological details should be kept to a minimum as much as possible.

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any figures or illustrations that are protected by copyright, including figures published elsewhere, or downloaded from the internet, and pictures taken by professional photographers. The sources and copyright information must be included in the legends.

Key points:

  • Figures should be numbered separately with Arabic numerals in the order of occurrence in the text of the manuscript. One- or two-column format figures are required. When appropriate, figures should include error bars. A description of the statistical treatment of error analysis should be included in the figure legend;
  • Figure lettering should be in a clear, sans-serif typeface (for example, Helvetica); the same typeface in the same font size should be used for all figures in a paper. Use symbol font for Greek letters. All display items should be on a white background, and should avoid excessive boxing, unnecessary colour, spurious decorative effects (such as three-dimensional 'skyscraper' histograms) and highly pixelated computer drawings. The vertical axis of histograms should not be truncated to exaggerate small differences. Labelling must be of sufficient size and contrast to be readable, even after appropriate reduction. The thinnest lines in the final figure should be no smaller than one point wide;
  • Figures divided into parts should be labelled with a lower-case bold a, b, and so on, in the same type size as used elsewhere in the figure. Lettering in figures should be in lower-case type, with only the first letter of each label capitalized. Units should have a single space between the number and the unit, and follow SI nomenclature (for example, ms rather than msec) or the nomenclature common to a particular field. Thousands should be separated by commas (1,000). Unusual units or abbreviations should be spelled out in full or defined in the legend. Scale bars should be used rather than magnification factors, with the length of the bar defined on the bar itself rather than in the legend. In legends, please use visual cues rather than verbal explanations such as "open red triangles";
  • Unnecessary figures should be avoided: data presented in small tables or histograms, for instance, can generally be stated briefly in the text instead. Figures should not contain more than one panel unless the parts are logically connected; each panel of a multipart figure should be sized so that the whole figure can be reduced by the same amount and reproduced at the smallest size at which essential details are visible;
  • Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Tables

Please submit tables in your main article document in an editable format, and not as images. Tables that include statistical analysis of data should describe their standards of error analysis and ranges in a table legend.

Papers can include no more than 12 display items in total (e.g., figures or tables). 

Equations

Equations and mathematical expressions should be provided in the main text of the paper. Equations that are referred to in the text are identified by parenthetical numbers, such as (1), and are referred to in the manuscript as "equation (1)".

For submissions in a .doc or .docx format please ensure that all equations are provided in an editable Word format. These can be produced with the equation editor included in Microsoft Word.

The author bears the responsibility for checking whether material submitted is subject to copyright or ownership rights (e.g., figures, tables, photographs, illustrations, trade literature and data). The author will need to obtain permission to reproduce any such items (and cover any resulting payments) under a CC-BY license, and include these permissions with their final submission. Where use is restricted, the editorial office must be informed with the final submission of the material.

More detailed advice on rights and permissions can be found in these guidelines.

It is very likely you will need to seek permission to reproduce third party material unless you including in your submission items that are:

  • Not subject to copyright (e.g. where the term of copyright has expired);
  • Covered by a copyright exception (please see our requirements regarding the use of material under copyright exceptions);
  • Or, obtained from places that set out their terms and conditions for re-use without requiring you to apply to them for permission (e.g. a valid creative commons license, the UK's Government's 'Open Government License' or website terms and conditions).

Permissions clearance can be time-consuming and also, in some instances, expensive. We recommend obtaining permissions as early in the manuscript preparation process as is feasible to avoid delays later on.

Please add any necessary acknowledgments to the typescript, preferably in the form of an Acknowledgments section at the end of the paper.

Legend templates:

The sources and copyright of photographs, figures, illustrations, in the accompanying captions must be included in figure legends (where applicable), using the following formula:

Images that you do not have permission to reproduce under a CC-BY license:

Figure 1. Figure title. Description of what is in the image/key points. This figure is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Reproduced with permission of NAME; copyright © NAME, all rights reserved.

Images that you do have permission to reproduce under a CC-BY license:

Figure 1. Figure title. Description of what is in the image/key points. This figure is not covered by the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Reproduced with permission of NAME; copyright © NAME, all rights reserved.

For a published example, please see this paper.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information may be submitted with the manuscript and will be sent to referees during peer review. It is published online with accepted manuscripts.

We do not permit supplementary information/appendices that follow straight on from the main article text – either the material should be absorbed into the main text, or the information should be uploaded separately as a single supplementary file.

We request that authors avoid "data not shown" statements. Where possible, if an author is able to do so, we consider it best practice to deposit any supplementary information (particularly for supporting data, tables, or figures) in an public repository, or the the journal’s own.

Any data necessary to evaluation of the claims of the paper that are not available via a public depository should be provided as one single Supplementary Information file.

Supplementary Information is not edited, typeset or proofed, so authors should ensure that it is clearly and succinctly presented at initial submission, and that the style and terminology conform to the rest of the paper.

Please note that modification of Supplementary Information after the paper is published requires a formal correction, so authors are encouraged to check their Supplementary Information carefully before submitting the final version.

The guidelines below detail the creation, citation and submission of Supplementary Information. Publication may be delayed if these are not followed correctly.

  • Multiple pieces of Supplementary Information should be combined and supplied as a single file, or supplied separately (e.g. supplementary videos, spreadsheets [.csv or .xlsx] or data files);
  • Designate each item as Supplementary Table, Figure, Video, Audio, Note, Data, Discussion, Equations or Methods, as appropriate. Number Supplementary Tables and Figures as, for example, "Supplementary Table S1". This numbering should be separate from that used in tables and figures appearing in the main article. Supplementary Note or Methods should not be numbered; titles for these are optional;
  • Refer to each piece of supplementary material at the appropriate point(s) in the main article. Be sure to include the word "Supplementary" each time one is mentioned. Please do not refer to individual panels of supplementary figures;
  • Use the following examples as a guide (note: abbreviate "Figure" as "Fig." when in the middle of a sentence): "Table 1 provides a selected subset of the most interesting examples. The entire list of 96 counrties can be found as Supplementary Table S1 online." "The decision tree used in the study considers various options (see Supplementary Fig. S2 online). Figure 2 shows...";
  • Remember to include a brief title and legend (incorporated into the file to appear near the image) as part of every figure submitted, and a title as part of every table;
  • File sizes should be as small as possible, with a maximum size of 50 MB, so that they can be downloaded quickly.
  • With the exception of spreadsheet, audio and video files, please submit the Supplementary Information as a single combined PDF if possible (in the order figures, tables and text). If necessary, we can also accept any of these formats: txt; .gif; .html; doc; .jpg; .swf; .mov; .xls; .pdf; .ppt; .wav.