Submission guidelines

This section provides information on preparing your manuscript, including how to format and construct specific sections. These guidelines should be consulted alongside our Journal policy guidelines.

Key sections
 

 

Making a submission

All submissions (initial and revised) must be made via the journal’s online system, and not by email. ot be accepted.

Submissions should adhere to the requirements laid out in our submission checklists:

All papers are quality-controlled after submission. Papers that do not meet our requirements are returned to the authors for correction. This will delay the processing of your manuscript. 

File formats

Authors should ensure 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. This can delay the processing of manuscripts. 

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 (one per figure) and not be embedded 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;
  • Figure legends should be included as a list at the end of the article file, rather than in the figure files.

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 delay publication of your work.

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any figures or illustrations that are protected by copyright. Figures that do not meet the below standards will not reproduce well and may delay publication until we receive high-resolution versions.

  • 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 180mm. 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.

Supplementary information (including appendices)

With the exception of spreadsheet, audio and video files, please submit the Supplementary Information as a single combined word file or pdf. Where possible, please consider depositing supplementary information or appendices in an open repository to maximise discoverability. 

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 article files

The journal conducts double-blind peer review. This means that the author will remain anonymous to the reviewers throughout peer review. 

All first submissions must therefore be anonymised. 

Author names, affiliations and any other potentially identifying information should be removed from the manuscript text and any accompanying files (such as figures or supplementary material).

Authors should avoid citing their own work in a way that could reveal their identity. 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 in the uploaded files:

  • Author names;

  • Indication of corresponding author including email address;

  • Affiliations (institution and country only).


Authors should not include: 

  • Job titles;

  • Qualifications; 

  • Biographies;

  • ORCID identifiers.

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 their 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 retrospectively.

Language

This journal is read by a truly diverse range of academics, many of whom are not native English speakers. Please therefore give careful thought to communicating your findings as clearly as possible. We strongly recommend that you ask a colleague with different expertise to review your manuscript before you submit it. This will help you to identify concepts and terminology that non-specialist readers may find hard to grasp.

Although you can assume a shared basic knowledge, please do not expect that everyone will be familiar with the specialist language or concepts of your particular field. Therefore:

  • Avoid technical jargon wherever possible, explaining it clearly when it is unavoidable;

  • Keep abbreviations to a minimum, particularly when they are not standard;

  • If you must use an abbreviation, make sure you spell it out fully in the text or legend the first time it appears;

  • Clearly explain the background, rationale and main conclusions of your study;

  • Write titles and abstracts in language that will be readily understood by any academic;

Authors should use UK English spelling.

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:

  • Getting a fast, free online grammar check;

  • Exploring this collection of free resources offering advice on writing in English;

  • Asking a colleague who is proficient in English to review your manuscript for clarity; 

  • Visiting this English language tutorial, which covers common mistakes when writing in English;

  • 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 an editing service is at your own expense, and does not ensure that your article will be selected for peer-review or accepted for publication.

Cover letter

A cover letter is not required. However, authors may wish to submit one to bring to the editor's attention any important material that was removed from the manuscript for the purposes of anonymisation. Cover letters are not sent to peer reviewers.

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 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 the 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.

Our editors and referees who will assess your revision are busy academics. Therefore, if the rebuttal letter is not clearly structured or information is lacking it will be returned to you for improvement.

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

  • Adopt a polite and professional tone - even if you are responding to feedback with which you are in agreement;

  • 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 referee 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 types and word counts

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

The journal does not accept the submission of Book Reviews, Interviews, or Letters.

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 a contribution to the literature. Articles can take a variety of forms, including case studies, short communications or longer studies. They may be niche or specialist in focus, report negative results or academically justified replications. 

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. 

Comment articles will not be considered for peer review that: present new methods or datasets; summarise the findings of research projects; are adapted versions of previously published papers; restate existing knowledge with no original contribution; offer a critique or commentary of another published work. 

For Comments we impose a strict word limit of a maximum of 4000 words (excluding references). Figures and tables are permitted only if they are absolutely essential to supporting the ideas or arguments presented.

Manuscript structure

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

  • Title;
  • Abstract;
  • Introduction;
  • Main body (subdivided as appropriate for the work in question);
  • References;
  • Numbered endnotes (optional);
  • Figures legends (included in a list at the end of the paper)*;
  • Tables;
  • Data availability (all papers);
  • Acknowledgements (optional);
  • Competing interests (all papers);
  • Ethical statements (all papers);
  • Supplementary Information (optional)**.

*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 (e.g. appendices) should be combined and supplied as a single separate file.

Article title

All submissions must include a title on the first page of the manuscript file. The title must be identical to that entered 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;

  • Redundant wording, such ‘A study of…’, ‘A review of…’ or similar, should be avoided;

  • Titles should not exceed 20 words or be written in block capitals;

  • Titles should not include symbols like &;

  • Titles can be split into two parts using hyphens or colons, but should not contain full stops, semi-colons or subtitles

Abstract

All submissions must include an abstract on the first page of the manuscript file. The abstract must be identical to that entered 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 ca. 300 words or contain subheadings or references.

The use of the ‘first person’ should be avoided, even for single-authored papers. This does not apply to the main body of papers.

Introduction

This section should include proportionate background context that draws on the appropriate academic literature. This section should include a clear statement of the research question/knowledge gap being interrogated, and methods or approach employed.

Main body

For the main body of the text, there are no specific requirements. It can be organised in a way that best suits the research undertaken. However, the following structure will be suitable in many cases:

  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results (with subheadings)
  • Discussion

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 study reporting an experiment/s involving humans must include a statement of ethical approval/informed consent at the end of the manuscript.

Methods sections must be included in the body of the article and not at the end or in supplementary files.

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. Therefore, it is essential you format them correctly, as they will be linked electronically to external databases where possible. 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 (email format, if permissible) from any person who is quoted, with their submission. The personal communication should be indicated by an endnote.

Referencing style guide

This table includes the most common references used in academic papers.

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

Acknowledgments

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 other writers, proof-readers and editors can 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 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 and leave a redacted version in the manuscript to prevent double-blind review being compromised.

Statement template:

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

Competing interests
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. Y and Z declare no potential conflict of interest.

Learn more about what we consider a competing interest in our policy guidelines.

Ethical statements

All authors must include the following two separate sections at the end of their manuscript, irrespective of the nature of the research reported:

  • Ethical approval 

  • Informed consent

Where these statements are not applicable, the authors should state so.

Ethical approval

When reporting a study that involved human participants, their data or biological material, authors should include a statement that confirms that the study was approved (or granted exemption) by the appropriate institutional and/or national research ethics committee (including the name of the ethics committee) and certify that the study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration or comparable standards, the authors must explain the reasons for their approach, and demonstrate that an independent ethics committee or institutional review board explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study.

Authors must identify: (a) the committee that approved the research, and (b) confirm that all research was performed in accordance with relevant guidelines/regulations. Research involving human research participants must have been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. If a study was granted exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the reasons for the exemption).

Examples of templates to be used when ethics approval has been obtained:

  • All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Bioethics Committee of the Medical University of A (No. ...).

  • This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by the Ethics Committee of University B (Date.../No. ...).

  • Approval was obtained from the ethics committee of University C. The procedures used in this study adhere to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki.

  • The questionnaire and methodology for this study was approved by the Human Research Ethics committee of the University of D (Ethics approval number: ...).

Example of the template to be used when ethics approval is not relevant:

  • This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Retrospective ethics approval

If a study has not been granted ethics committee approval prior to commencing, retrospective ethics approval usually cannot be obtained and it may not be possible to consider the manuscript for peer review. The decision on whether to proceed to peer review in such cases is at the Editor's discretion.

Ethics approval for retrospective studies
Although retrospective studies are conducted on already available data or biological material (for which formal consent may not be needed or is difficult to obtain) ethics approval may be required depending on the law and the national ethical guidelines of a country. Authors should check with their institution to make sure they are complying with the specific requirements of their country.
 

Ethics approval for case studies
Case reports require ethics approval. Most institutions will have specific policies on this subject. Authors should check with their institution to make sure they are complying with the specific requirements of their institution and seek ethics approval where needed. Authors should be aware to secure informed consent from the individual (or parent or guardian if the participant is a minor or incapable).
 

Informed consent

Authors should additionally include at the end of their manuscript confirming that informed consent was obtained from all participants and/or their legal guardians. If informed consent is not relevant, then the authors should simply state so: This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

All individuals have individual rights that are not to be infringed. Individual participants in studies have, for example, the right to decide what happens to the (identifiable) personal data gathered, to what they have said during a study or an interview, as well as to any photograph that was taken. This is especially true concerning images of vulnerable people (e.g. minors, patients, refugees, etc) or the use of images in sensitive contexts. In many instances, authors will need to secure written consent before including images.

Identifying details (names, dates of birth, identity numbers, biometrical characteristics (such as facial features, fingerprint, writing style, voice pattern, DNA or other distinguishing characteristics) and other information) of the participants that were studied should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and genetic profiles unless the information is essential for scholarly purposes and the participant (or parent/guardian if the participant is a minor or incapable or legal representative) gave written informed consent for publication. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve in some cases. Detailed descriptions of individual participants, whether of their whole bodies or of body sections, may lead to disclosure of their identity. Under certain circumstances consent is not required as long as information is anonymized and the submission does not include images that may identify the person.

Informed consent for publication should be obtained if there is any doubt. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of participants is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic profiles, authors should provide assurance that alterations do not distort meaning.

Exceptions where it is not necessary to obtain consent:

  • Images such as x rays, laparoscopic images, ultrasound images, brain scans, pathology slides unless there is a concern about identifying information in which case, authors should ensure that consent is obtained.

  • Reuse of images: If images are being reused from prior publications, the Publisher will assume that the prior publication obtained the relevant information regarding consent. Authors should provide the appropriate attribution for republished images.

Consent and already available data and/or biologic material
Regardless of whether material is collected from living or dead patients, they (family or guardian if the deceased has not made a pre-mortem decision) must have given prior written consent. The aspect of confidentiality as well as any wishes from the deceased should be respected.

Data protection, confidentiality and privacy
When biological material is donated for or data is generated as part of a research project authors should ensure, as part of the informed consent procedure, that the participants are made aware what kind of (personal) data will be processed, how it will be used and for what purpose. In case of data acquired via a biobank/biorepository, it is possible they apply a broad consent which allows research participants to consent to a broad range of uses of their data and samples which is regarded by research ethics committees as specific enough to be considered “informed”. However, authors should always check the specific biobank/biorepository policies or any other type of data provider policies (in case of non-bio research) to be sure that this is the case.

Consent to participate
For all research involving human subjects, freely-given, informed consent to participate in the study must be obtained from participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript. In the case of articles describing human transplantation studies, authors must include a statement declaring that no organs/tissues were obtained from prisoners and must also name the institution(s)/clinic(s)/department(s) via which organs/tissues were obtained. For manuscripts reporting studies involving vulnerable groups where there is the potential for coercion or where consent may not have been fully informed, extra care will be taken by the editor and may be referred to the Springer Nature Research Integrity Group.

Consent to publish
Individuals may consent to participate in a study, but object to having their data published in a journal article. Authors should make sure to also seek consent from individuals to publish their data prior to submitting their paper to a journal. This is in particular applicable to case studies. 

Availability of data/materials

An inherent principle of publication is that others should be able to replicate and build upon the authors' published claims. Therefore, a condition of publication is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to readers without undue qualifications. Any restrictions on the availability of materials or information must be disclosed to the publishing team at the time of submission. Any restrictions must also be disclosed in the submitted manuscript, including details of how readers can obtain materials and information. If materials are to be distributed by a for-profit company, this must be stated in the paper.

Supporting data must be made available to the journal and peer-reviewers at the time of submission for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript. Peer-reviewers may be asked to comment on the terms of access to materials, methods and/or datasets; the journal reserves the right to refuse publication in cases where authors do not provide adequate assurances that they can comply with the publication's requirements for sharing materials.

After publication, readers who encounter refusal by the authors to comply with these policies should contact the publishing team. In cases where we are unable to resolve a complaint, the matter may be referred to the authors' institution or funding institution and/or a formal statement of correction may be published, attached online to the publication, stating that readers have been unable to obtain necessary materials to replicate the findings.

All original articles should include a data availability statement. This should, wherever possible, include a link to and citation of any datasets analysed or generated in the study, when these are available in an appropriate public repository.

The preferred way to share datasets is via specialised public repositories, if one exists, or through a general data repository that can assure permanence and unique identification of deposited datasets.

Authors who make their datasets publicly available should use the most broadly supported and recognised repository for their research community. Public repositories that can be used by include:

Repositories for sensitive data that cannot be made public for individual privacy or other legitimate reasons include:

Further repositories can be found here.

Some of these repositories offer authors the option to host data associated with a manuscript confidentially, and provide anonymous access to peer-reviewers before public release. Some of these repositories coordinate public release of the data with the journal's publication date. This option should be used when possible, but it is the authors' responsibility to communicate with the repository to ensure that public release is made promptly on the publication date. In the unlikely event there is no public repository to accommodate supporting datasets, they must be made available as Supplementary Information files that will be freely accessible on the journal website upon publication. In cases where it is technically impossible for such files to be provided to the journal, the authors must make the data available to the journal and peer-reviewers at submission, and directly upon request to any reader on and after the publication date, the authors providing a URL or other unique identifier in the manuscript.

The journal’s data availability policies are compatible with the standardised research data policies set out by Springer Nature.

Sharing datasets

A condition of publication is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to others without preconditions.

Datasets must be made freely available to readers from the date of publication, and must be provided to the journal and peer-reviewers at submission, for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript.

Citing datasets

Citing datasets in an equivalent way to citing journal articles and other types of publication helps enable researchers to earn appropriate credit for the collection and publication of datasets. Data citation also makes reuse and verification of scholarly research more efficient, and can help measure the impact and reuse of datasets. We recommend authors cite, in their reference list, any public datasets that are used or produced in any work described, provided the datasets have been assigned a persistent identifier. When citing datasets the format preferred by DataCite should be used, where persistent identifiers, such as digital object identifier (DOI) names, are displayed as linkable, permanent URLs. 

Pre-registration of studies
The journal encourages pre-registration of studies, where appropriate databases exist, as a means of making research more discoverable. Authors who have pre-registered their study in an independent registry (e.g. American Economic Association's registry for randomized controlled trials, Center for Open Science, Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP)  registry, and The Registry for International Development Impact Evaluations) are requested to indicate this clearly in the manuscript, such as in the abstract and an appropriate footnote.


Code sharing

We request that authors, where applicable, make available, to editors and reviewers, any previously unreported custom computer code used to generate results that are reported in the paper and central to its main claims. Upon publication, authors are encouraged to release custom computer code in a way that allows readers to repeat the published results. For all studies using custom code that is deemed central to the conclusions, a statement must be included in the paper (e.g. as a footnote), indicating whether and how the code can be accessed, including any restrictions to access.

Authors may supply code as Supplementary Information files or submit it to the journal’s own repository, hosted by Dataverse, when code must be kept private during peer review. Before final publication, however, authors are encouraged to release their code in a public repository that can assign it a DOI, such as Dataverse or Figshare. In addition, for sufficiently complex software, we recommend using an open version control system (VCS), such as GitHub, in combination with a DOI-providing repository to provide permanent access to a usable instance of code (information on how to archive GitHub code at figshare). Code with an assigned DOI may be formally cited and listed in the References section of the manuscript.

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 available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

  3. All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].

  4. The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due [REASON(S) WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC] but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.].

  5. Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

  6. The data that support the findings of this study are available from [THIRD PARTY NAME] but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under licence for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of [THIRD PARTY NAME].

More templates for data availability statements, including examples of openly available and restricted access datasets, are available here.

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 #4, 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.

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.

Image integrity and standards

All digitised images submitted with the final revision of the manuscript should be 300 DPI if possible.

A certain degree of image processing is acceptable for publication (and for some experiments, fields and techniques is unavoidable), but the final image must correctly represent the original data and conform to community standards. The guidelines below will aid in accurate data presentation at the image processing level; authors must also take care to exercise prudence during data acquisition, where misrepresentation must equally be avoided. Manuscripts should include an 'equipment and settings' section with their Methods that describes for each figure the pertinent instrument settings, acquisition conditions and processing changes, as described in this guide.

  • Authors should list all image acquisition tools and image processing software packages used. Authors should document key image-gathering settings and processing manipulations in the Methods;

  • Images gathered at different times or from different locations should not be combined into a single image, unless it is stated that the resultant image is a product of time-averaged data or a time-lapse sequence. If juxtaposing images is essential, the borders should be clearly demarcated in the figure and described in the legend;

  • The use of touch-up tools, such as cloning and healing tools in Photoshop, or any feature that deliberately obscures manipulations, is to be avoided;

  • Processing (such as changing brightness and contrast) is appropriate only when it is applied equally across the entire image and is applied equally to controls. Contrast should not be adjusted so that data disappear. Excessive manipulations, such as processing to emphasise one region in the image at the expense of others (for example, through the use of a biased choice of threshold settings), is inappropriate, as is emphasizing experimental data relative to the control.

When submitting revised final figures upon conditional acceptance, authors may be asked to submit original, unprocessed images.

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.

Copyright permission

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 here.

It is very likely you will need to seek permission to reproduce third party material unless you include 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 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 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 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, see this paper.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information (or appendices) 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 journal’s own.

Any data necessary to evaluate 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 countries 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.