Editorial & Publishing Policies
Scientific Data is a new type of data-focused journal, and has editorial policies that differ from those at other research journals. These policies are designed to promote Data Descriptors as a complementary article-type that will not conflict with the publication of more traditional results-based research articles.
- Focused scope
- Complementary publication
- Prior publication
- Data deposition
- Availability of research materials
- Availability of computer code
- Peer-review and publication criteria
- Author responsibilities
- Licence agreement and author copyright
- Competing interests
- Embargo policy and press releases
- Confidentiality and pre-publicity
- Digital image integrity and standards
- Use of experimental animals and human subjects
- Biosecurity concerns
- Refutations, complaints and corrections
- Duplicate publication
- Plagiarism and appropriate attribution
Data Descriptors published at Scientific Data form a new category of publication designed to provide detailed descriptions of valuable experimental datasets, including the methods used to collect the data and technical analyses supporting the quality of the measurements. These descriptors should not contain tests of new scientific hypotheses, extensive analyses aimed at providing new scientific insights, or descriptions of fundamentally new scientific methods. Editors at Scientific Data may decline consideration of submissions that do not fit this scope, or may ask authors to remove inappropriate material from submitted manuscripts.
Data Descriptors are designed to be complementary to traditional research publications, and may be used to describe datasets that are analysed in other publications, or to describe standalone datasets. In some cases, Data Descriptors may also be used to describe datasets that have already been published or publicly released, when the Data Descriptor publication would clearly help others reuse and reanalyse an important dataset. Data Descriptors that describe previously published datasets must provide new content sufficient to merit a new publication – this may include updates to important datasets, fuller release of a dataset, or additional information to aid reuse.
Authors interested in submitting a complementary Data Descriptor should download and refer to our Complementary Data Descriptor Checklist.
If the authors intend to publish a subsequent journal article based on the dataset, we encourage their consultation with the editor of their target journal to ensure that prior publication of a Data Descriptor is acceptable.
Nature-titled journals will not consider prior Data Descriptor publications to compromise the novelty of new manuscript submissions as long as those manuscripts go substantially beyond a descriptive analysis of the data, and report important new scientific findings appropriate for the journal. This policy does not necessarily extend to subsequent journal articles with the primary purpose of describing a new dataset or resource.
Scientific Reports will not consider prior publication of a Data Descriptor to constitute duplicate publication, as long as the associated manuscript submitted to Scientific Reports goes beyond a descriptive analysis of the data and reports scientific findings appropriate for the journal.
Other publishers may have different policies.
In all cases, Scientific Data will work with authors to ensure that Data Descriptors do not compromise the publication of related articles under consideration at other journals. At the authors’ request, we will delay the publication of an accepted Data Descriptor in cases where related manuscripts are still under consideration. When a Data Descriptor is published, however, the associated datasets must be publicly released.
Scientific Data strongly supports established, community-recognized data repositories that are designed, for example, for specific data-types, model organisms or phenotypes. Scientific Data complements public repositories by providing standardized descriptions of research data that reach across different technologies and research disciplines.
Authors must deposit their datasets in an appropriate repository prior to peer review. If an appropriate repository does not exist, or if the available repositories do not support a confidential peer-review process, we ask authors to submit their data to a generalist repository such as figshare or the Dryad Digital Repository. Our submission system allows author to upload datasets to these systems in a straightforward and rapid fashion.
As part of the peer-review process, editors and referees evaluate the appropriateness of the repository chosen to hold the dataset, the completeness of the deposited datasets, and their alignment with community standards. Authors will be required to release their datasets publicly when the Data Descriptor is published.
Availability of research 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 in Scientific Data is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to readers without undue qualifications in materials transfer agreements. 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 Data Descriptor.
Referees may be asked to comment on the terms of access to materials, methods and/or datasets; Scientific Data reserves the right to refuse publication in cases where authors do not provide adequate assurances that they can comply with journal requirements for materials sharing.
After publication, readers who encounter refusal by the authors to comply with these policies should contact the Scientific Data publishing team. In cases where we are unable to resolve a complaint, the matter may be referred to the authors’ 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.
Sharing biological materials
For materials such as mutant strains and cell lines, Scientific Data requires authors to use established public repositories when one exists, and provide accession numbers in the manuscript. Materials repositories include the Jackson Laboratory, the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA), the European Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Program (EUCOMM), the Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP), Addgene, RIKEN Bioresource Centre, the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Centers, American Type Culture Collection (Americas), American Type Culture Collection (Asia/Europe), and the UK Stem Cell Bank.
Researchers developing cell lines must investigate and disclose any restrictions associated with the human or other tissue they are using, particularly if someone else collected the samples, if the samples come from multiple clinical sources or if they come from several legal jurisdictions. If a scientist needs to create cell lines that might be used for as-yet-unforeseen purposes, only tissue with no restrictions should be used. Authors should make Scientific Data aware of limitations on reuse or sharing resulting from any consent forms signed by patients or participants.
Availability of computer code
Authors must make available upon request, to editors and reviewers, any previously unreported custom computer code used to generate the data described in the manuscript. Any practical issues preventing code sharing will be evaluated by the editors who reserve the right to decline the paper if important code is unavailable.
For all studies using custom code in the generation or processing of the described data, a statement must be included in the Methods section, under the heading "Code availability", indicating whether and how the code can be accessed, including any restrictions to access.
Upon publication, Scientific Data considers it best practice to release custom computer code in a way that allows readers to repeat any steps involved in generating or processing central datasets.
Authors may supply code as Supplementary Information files, particularly when code must be kept private during peer review. Before final publication, however, authors are encouraged to archive their code in a public repository that can assign it a DOI, such as figshare. In addition, for sufficiently complex software, we recommend sharing your software with GitHub in combination with a DOI providing repository to provide permanent access to a usable instance of code (how to archive GitHub code with Zenodo; how to archive GitHub code with figshare). Code with an assigned DOI may be formally cited and listed in the References section of the manuscript.
Computational models should be deposited to community-supported model repositories when they exist (e.g. BioModels for models of biological processes).
Peer-review and publication criteria
The Editorial Board, our Honorary Academic Editor and the in-house Chief Editor will decide, in consultation, which submissions are sent out for in-depth peer review based on their appropriateness for Scientific Data’s scope and the reuse value of the associated data. The peer review of each submission is overseen by an Editorial Board member.
Referees will evaluate the technical quality of the procedures used to generate the data, the reuse value of the resulting datasets, the completeness of the data description, and alignment with existing community standards.
Acceptance will not be based on the perceived impact or novelty of the findings associated with the datasets, and indeed Data Descriptors will not be expected to contain in-depth analyses or new scientific conclusions. Authors will, however, be expected to support the rigour and technical quality of the experiments or procedures used to generate the data, and will be asked to provide evidence of quality-control experiments whenever necessary. Referees may ask for additional supporting experiments when needed to support the data.
Scientific Data will not be a place to publish weakly supported or preliminary scientific findings, and indeed the Editors may ask authors to remove claims that are not appropriate for our scope, or may suggest that authors resubmit their work to a more appropriate research journal. Scientific Data will gladly consider work transferred from other journals after rejection, especially when the articles describe valuable datasets, but in most cases the article will require revision before peer review to fit our particular scope and formatting requirements. In addition, our editorial standards regarding data quality and reuse value may be more rigorous than other journals’.
Being an author
Scientific Data does not require all authors of a Data Descriptor to sign the cover letter upon submission, nor do we impose an order on the list of authors. Submission to Scientific Data is taken by the journal to mean that all listed authors have agreed to all contents. The corresponding (submitting) author is responsible for ensuring that this agreement has been reached, and for managing all communication between the journal and all coauthors, before and after article publication.
Responsibilities of senior team members on multi-group collaborations
Scientific Data assumes that at least one member of each collaboration, usually the most senior member of each submitting group or team, has accepted responsibility for the contributions to the manuscript from that team. This responsibility includes, but is not limited to: (1) ensuring that original data upon which the submission is based are preserved and retrievable for reanalysis; (2) approving data presentation as representative of the original data; and (3) foreseeing and minimizing obstacles to the sharing of data, materials, algorithms or reagents described in the work.
Author contributions statements
Authors are required to include a statement of responsibility in the manuscript that specifies the contribution of every author. The level of detail varies; some disciplines produce manuscripts that comprise discrete efforts readily articulated in detail, whereas other fields operate as group efforts at all stages. Scientific Data also allows two coauthors to be specified as having contributed equally to the work being described (most often used for co-first authors), but we prefer authors to use the ‘author contributions’ style for reader clarity.
Scientific Data encourages authors to describe the contribution of each author on a separate line, even if this leads to some repetition. For example:
AB wrote the Data Descriptor, and prepared figures 1-3.
CD wrote the Data Descriptor.
PQ wrote the Data Descriptor, and analysed the data.
Corresponding author – prepublication responsibilities
The corresponding (submitting) author is solely responsible for communicating with Scientific Data and for managing communication between coauthors. Before submission, the corresponding author ensures that all authors are included in the author list, its order has been agreed by all authors, and all authors are aware that the Data Descriptor has been submitted.
After acceptance, the proof is sent to the corresponding author, who deals with Scientific Data on behalf of all coauthors; Scientific Data will not necessarily correct errors after publication if they result from errors present on a proof that was not shown to coauthors before publication. The corresponding author is responsible for the accuracy of all content in the proof, in particular that names of coauthors are present and correctly spelled, and that addresses and affiliations are current.
Corresponding author – responsibilities after publication
Scientific Data regards the corresponding author as the point of contact for queries about the published Data Descriptor. It is this author’s responsibility to inform all coauthors of matters arising and to ensure such matters are dealt with promptly. This author need not be the senior author or the author who actually supplies materials; this author’s role is to ensure enquiries are answered promptly on behalf of all coauthors. The name and e-mail address of this author (on large collaborations there may be two) is published in the Data Descriptor.
Correcting the record
Authors of published material have a responsibility to inform the publication promptly if they become aware of any part that requires correcting.
A confidential process
Scientific Data treats the submitted manuscript and all communication with authors and referees as confidential. Authors must also treat communication with Scientific Data as confidential: correspondence with Scientific Data, referee reports and other confidential material must not be posted on any website or otherwise publicized without prior permission from the Scientific Data publishing team, regardless of whether or not the submission is eventually published. Our policies about posting preprints and postprints, and about previous communication of the work at conferences or as part of a personal blog or of an academic thesis, are described in the Confidentiality section.
Authors are welcome to suggest suitable independent referees when they submit their manuscripts, but these suggestions need not be used by Scientific Data. Authors may also request that Scientific Data exclude a few (usually not more than two) individuals or laboratories. Scientific Data sympathetically considers such exclusion requests and usually honours them, but the decision of the Editorial Board Member on the choice of referees is final.
Licence agreement and author copyright
Scientific Data does not require authors of Data Descriptors to assign copyright of their published contributions. By default articles are licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY). Please see here for more information on the available licences and our article processing charges.
In the interests of transparency and to help readers form their own judgments of potential bias, Nature Research journals require authors to declare any competing financial and/or non-financial interests in relation to the work described. The corresponding author is responsible for submitting a competing interests' statement on behalf of all authors of the paper.
For the purposes of this policy, competing interests are defined as financial and non-financial interests that could directly, or be perceived to, undermine the objectivity, integrity and value of a publication, through a potential influence on the judgments and actions of authors with regard to objective data presentation, analysis and interpretation.
Financial competing interests can include any of the following:
Funding: Research support (including salaries, equipment, supplies, and other expenses) by organizations that may gain or lose financially through this publication. A specific role for the funder in the conceptualization, design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript, should be disclosed.
Employment: Recent (while engaged in the research project), present or anticipated employment by any organization that may gain or lose financially through this publication.
Personal financial interests: Stocks or shares in companies that may gain or lose financially through publication; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration (including reimbursements for attending symposia) from organizations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications (awarded or pending) filed by the authors or their institutions whose value may be affected by publication. For patents and patent applications, disclosure of the following information is requested: patent applicant (whether author or institution), name of inventor(s), application number, status of application, specific aspect of manuscript covered in patent application.
It is difficult to specify a threshold at which a financial interest becomes significant, but note that many US universities require faculty members to disclose interests exceeding $10,000 or 5% equity in a company (see, for example, B. Lo et al. New Engl. J. Med. 343, 1616-1620; 2000). Any such figure is necessarily arbitrary, so we offer as one possible practical alternative guideline: "Any undeclared competing financial interests that could embarrass you were they to become publicly known after your work was published."
We do not consider diversified mutual funds or investment trusts to constitute a competing financial interest.
Non-financial competing interests:
Non-financial competing interests can take different forms, including personal or professional relations with organizations and individuals. We would encourage authors and referees to declare any unpaid roles or relationships that might have a bearing on the publication process. Examples of non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):
- Unpaid membership in a government or non-governmental organization
- Unpaid membership in an advocacy or lobbying organization
- Unpaid advisory position in a commercial organisation
- Writing or consulting for an educational company
- Acting as an expert witness
Application to authors
Authors’ must disclose competing interest during the submission process. Authors submitting their manuscripts using the journal's online manuscript tracking system are required to make their declaration as part of this process and to specify the competing interests in cases where they exist. For peer-reviewed contributions, authors’ declarations are disclosed to referees. The corresponding author is responsible for providing a declaration on behalf of all authors.
Authors are required to include a statement at the end of their article to declare whether or not they have any competing interests.
The published article indicates the authors' response using one of the following standard sentences:
- The authors declare the following competing interests:
- The authors declare no competing interests.
We recognize that some authors may be bound by confidentiality agreements. In such cases, in place of itemized disclosures, we will require authors to state: "The authors declare that they are bound by confidentiality agreements that prevent them from disclosing their competing interests in this work."
We do not require authors to state the monetary value of their financial interests.
Embargo policy and press releases
Communication with the media
Material submitted to Scientific Data should not be discussed with the media, except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media once an embargo date has been set.
Data Descriptors that are deemed especially newsworthy may be press-released, to a registered list, by our press office. Journalists are encouraged to read the full version of any Data Descriptors they wish to cover, and are given the names and contact information of corresponding authors. Authors may therefore receive calls or emails from the media during this time; we encourage them to cooperate with journalists so that media coverage of their work is accurate and balanced. Authors whose Data Descriptors are scheduled for publication may also arrange their own publicity (for instance through their institutional press offices), but they must adhere to our media embargo and are advised to coordinate their own publicity with our press office.
The media embargo serves scientists, authors, journalists and the public. Our policy is to release information about our content in a way that provides fair and equal access to the media, allowing them to provide informed comment based on the complete and final version of the Data Descriptor that is to be published. Authors and their institutions’ press offices are able then to interact with the media ahead of publication, and benefit from the subsequent coverage.
Communication between scientists
Scientific Data does not wish to hinder communication between scientists. For that reason, different embargo guidelines apply to work that has been discussed at a conference or displayed on a preprint server and picked up by the media as a result (neither conference presentations nor posting on recognized preprint servers constitutes prior publication.)
Our guidelines for authors and potential authors in such circumstances are clear-cut in principle: communicate with other researchers as much as you wish, whether on a recognised community preprint server, by discussion at scientific meetings (publication of abstracts in conference proceedings is allowed), in an academic thesis, or by online collaborative sites such as wikis; but do not encourage premature publication by discussion with the press (beyond a formal presentation, if at a conference).
This advice may jar with those (including most researchers and all journalists) who see the freedom of information as a good thing, but it embodies a longer-term view: that publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the appropriate culmination of any piece of original research, and an essential prerequisite for public discussion.
If further clarification is required, please contact the press office by e-mail.
Confidentiality and pre-publicity
Scientific Data keeps all details about a submitted manuscript confidential and does not comment to any outside organization about manuscripts that are either under consideration or that have been rejected.
After a manuscript is submitted, correspondence with Scientific Data, referees’ reports and other confidential material, regardless of whether or not the submission is eventually published, must not be posted on any website or otherwise publicized without prior permission. The Editorial Board Members themselves are not allowed to discuss manuscripts with third parties or to reveal information about correspondence and other interactions with authors and referees.
Referees of manuscripts submitted to Scientific Data undertake in advance to maintain confidentiality of manuscripts and any associated supplementary data.
Our policy on the posting of particular versions of the manuscript is as follows:
- You are welcome to post pre-submission versions or the original submitted version of the manuscript on a personal blog, a collaborative wiki or a preprint server at any time.
- Scientific Data articles are open-access and can replace the original submitted version immediately, on publication, as long as a publication reference and URL to the published version on the Scientific Data website are provided.
Scientific Data authors must not discuss contributions with the media (including other scientific journals) except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media once an embargo date has been set.
Presentation and discussion of material submitted to Scientific Data at scientific meetings is encouraged, but authors must indicate that their work is subject to press embargo and decline to discuss it with members of the media. Authors are free to publish abstracts in conference proceedings and to distribute preprints of submitted or ‘in press’ Data Descriptors to professional colleagues, but not to the media.
Contributions being prepared for or submitted to Scientific Data can be posted on recognized preprint servers (such as ArXiv), and on collaborative websites such as wikis or the author’s blog. The website and URL must be identified in the cover letter accompanying submission of the Data Descriptor, and the content of the manuscript must not be advertised to the media by virtue of being on the website or preprint server. Material in a contribution submitted to Scientific Data may also have been published as part of a PhD or other academic thesis.
Taxonomic descriptions: Authors of Data Descriptors that contain taxonomy (that is, the formal nomenclature and description of a newly discovered species) should be aware that it is possible for third parties to exploit the prior publication of nomenclature at any time between online posting of a preprint and the publication date in a journal, by publishing the name in print and asserting priority according to the rules of the Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Scientific Data takes no responsibility for such assertions of priority in the case of manuscripts it publishes if the content of those manuscripts has previously appeared in the public domain as online preprints or other form of online posting.
Digital image integrity and standards
Scientific Data requires authors to present digital images in accord with the policies employed by the Nature-titled journals.
Use of experimental animals and human subjects
Scientific Data asks authors to report experiments on living organisms according to the policies laid out by the Nature-titled journals.
For publications in Scientific Data reporting experiments on live vertebrates and/or higher invertebrates, the corresponding author must confirm that all experiments were performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations. The manuscript must include a statement identifying the institutional and/or licensing committee approving the experiments, including any relevant details, in the Methods section.
Authors submitting manuscripts on human-derived datasets that require special access controls should complete our Human Data Checklist, and upload it with their submission.
For experiments involving human subjects, authors must:
- identify the committee approving the experiments, and include with their submission a statement confirming that informed consent was obtained from all subjects;
- for publication of patient photos, include a statement confirming that consent to publish was obtained;
- report the clinical trial registration number (at ClinicalTrials.gov or equivalent);
- for phase II and III randomized controlled trials, please refer to the CONSORT statement and submit the CONSORT checklist with your submission;
- for tumour marker prognostic studies, we recommend that you follow the REMARK reporting guidelines.
Please also see our policies related to human datasets with privacy restrictions.
Scientific Data’s Editorial Board Members may seek advice from the Advisory Panel and the Editors about any aspect of a submitted manuscript that raises concerns. These may include, for example, ethical issues or issues of data or materials access. Very occasionally, concerns may also relate to the implications to society of publishing a Data Descriptor, including threats to security. In such circumstances, advice will usually be sought simultaneously with the technical peer-review process.
The threat posed by bioweapons raises the unusual need to assess the balance of risk and benefit in publication. Editorial Board Members may not be best qualified to make such judgments unassisted, and so we reserve the right to take expert advice in cases where we believe that concerns may arise. We recognize the widespread view that openness in science helps to alert society to potential threats and to defend against them, and we anticipate that only very rarely (if at all) will the risks be perceived as outweighing the benefits of publishing a Data Descriptor that has otherwise been deemed appropriate for Scientific Data. Nevertheless, we think it appropriate to consider such risks and to have a formal policy for dealing with them if need arises.
Once a decision has been reached, authors will be informed if biosecurity advice has informed that decision. Please see the joint statement by journal editors.
Refutations, complaints and corrections
Correction and retraction policy
Publishable amendments must be represented by a formal online notice because they affect the publication record and/or the scientific accuracy of published information. Where these amendments concern peer-reviewed material, they fall into one of the three categories – erratum, corrigendum or retraction – described below.
Erratum. Notification of an important error made by the journal that affects the publication record or the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors, or of the journal.
Corrigendum. Notification of an important error made by the author(s) that affects the publication record or the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors or the journal.
Retraction. Notification of invalid results. All coauthors must sign a retraction specifying the error and stating briefly how the conclusions are affected, and submit it for publication. In cases where coauthors disagree, the publishing team will seek advice from independent peer-reviewers and impose the type of amendment that seems most appropriate, noting the dissenting author(s) in the text of the published version.
When an amendment is published, it is linked bi-directionally to and from the article being corrected.
Readers wishing to draw the journal's attention to a significant published error should contact the publishing team.
Decisions about types of corrections are made by the journal's editors, with the advice of the peer-reviewers, Advisory Panel or Editorial Board Members. This process involves consultation with the authors of the paper, but the editors make the final decision about whether an amendment is required and the category in which the amendment is published.
Scientific Data does not publish corrections unless the issues identified affect the contribution in a significant way or would substantially impair a reader's understanding. For example, minor spelling or grammar errors generally will not be corrected. The online article is part of the published record and hence its original published version is preserved.
Detailed description of correction types
Errata concern the amendment of mistakes introduced by the journal in production, including errors of omission such as failure to make factual proof corrections requested by authors within the deadline provided by the journal and within journal policy. Errata are generally not published for simple, obvious typographical errors, but are published when an apparently simple error is significant (for example a greek mu is substituted for an ‘m' in a unit, or a typographical error is present in the corresponding author's name).
Corrigenda are judged on their relevance to readers and their importance for the published record. Corrigenda are published after discussion among the Editorial Board Members, the Editorial Advisory Panel and the publishing team. All coauthors must sign an agreed wording.
Corrigenda submitted by the original authors are published if the scientific accuracy or reproducibility of the original paper is compromised; occasionally, on investigation, these may be published as retractions. In cases where some coauthors decline to sign a corrigendum or retraction, we reserve the right to publish it with the dissenting author(s) identified. Scientific Data publish corrigenda if there is an error in the published author list, but not for overlooked acknowledgements.
If there is an error in the lettering on a figure, the usual procedure is to publish a sentence of rectification. A significant error in the figure itself is corrected by publication of a new corrected figure as an erratum. The figure is republished only if the Editorial Board Member considers it necessary for a reader to understand it.
Retractions are judged according to whether the issues raised substantially undermine the value or accuracy of the data described in the manuscript, or call into question central aspects of the description provided in the manuscript. Readers wishing to draw the Editorial Board Members' attention to published work requiring retraction should first contact the authors of the original paper and then write to the publishing team, including copies of the correspondence with the authors (whether or not the correspondence has been answered). The publishing team and Editorial Board Member will seek advice from reviewers if they judge that the information is likely to draw into question the main conclusions of the published paper.
Material submitted to Scientific Data must be original and not published or submitted for publication elsewhere. This rule applies to material submitted elsewhere while the Scientific Data contribution is under consideration. Publications at Scientific Data are designed to be complementary to traditional research publications. If any content is shared between a Data Descriptor and associated research articles, the authors should take care to make sure that such overlap is clearly defined, transparent to readers and editors, and properly cited, in both manuscripts. Any overlap should be discussed in the cover letter submitted with the Data Descriptor manuscript.
Authors submitting a contribution to Scientific Data who have related material under consideration or in press elsewhere should upload a clearly marked copy at the time of submission, and draw the Editors' attention to it in their cover letter. If additional works are submitted to other journals while a contribution remains under consideration at Scientific Data, authors must notify the Editors of Scientific Data.
Scientific Data is happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis that has been published according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification.
Scientific Data allows and encourages prior publication on recognized community preprint servers for review by other scientists in the field before formal submission to a journal. The details of the preprint server concerned and any accession numbers should be included in the cover letter accompanying submission of the manuscript. This policy does not extend to preprints available to the media or that are otherwise publicized outside the scientific community before or during the submission and consideration process at Scientific Data.
Scientific Data allows publication of meeting abstracts before the full contribution is submitted. Such abstracts should be included with the submission and referred to in the cover letter accompanying the manuscript. This policy does not extend to meeting abstracts and reports available to the media or which are otherwise publicized outside the scientific community during the submission and consideration process.
Scientific Data is happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed, and continues to form, part of an online scientific collaboration such as a wiki or blog, provided that the information has not been publicized outside the scientific community, and is not publicized until the publication date of the work in Scientific Data. In case of any doubt, authors should seek advice from the Editorial Board Member handling their contribution.
If an author of a submission is re-using a figure(s) published elsewhere or copyrighted, the author must provide documentation that the previous publisher or copyright holder has given permission for the figure to be re-published. Scientific Data Editorial Board Members consider all material in good faith that the authors can provide full permission to publish every part of the submitted material, including illustrations.
Plagiarism and appropriate attribution
Plagiarism is when an author attempts to pass off someone else’s work as his or her own. Duplicate publication, sometimes called self-plagiarism, occurs when an author reuses substantial parts of his or her own published work without providing the appropriate references.
The Nature Research journals are part of CrossCheck, an initiative to help editors verify the originality of submitted manuscripts. As part of this process, Scientific Data spot-checks submitted manuscripts to be scanned and compared with the CrossCheck database.
If a case of plagiarism comes to light after a Data Descriptor is published in Scientific Data, we will conduct a preliminary investigation. If plagiarism is confirmed, we will contact the author’s institute and funding agencies. A determination of misconduct will lead Scientific Data to run a statement, bidirectionally linked online to and from the original Data Descriptor, to note the plagiarism and to provide a reference to the plagiarised material. The Data Descriptor containing the plagiarism will also be obviously marked on each page of the PDF. Depending on the extent of the plagiarism, the Data Descriptor may also be formally retracted.
Authors are expected to appropriately acknowledge intellectual or technical contributions derived from previous published works, and to appropriately credit the reuse of any previously published datasets. If authors refer to unpublished data or results from other groups or private sources, they must include with their submission a written assurance that they have appropriate permission and are complying with the originators’ data-licensing agreements.