Guide to Authors
This page contains a series of policies that we ask authors to read and consider before submitting work to Scientific Data. For detailed information on preparing and formatting a Data Descriptor manuscript please see our submission guidelines and manuscript templates. We also encourage you to read our data deposition policies early in the drafting process. We are committed to making informed editorial decisions and prefer to have all relevant material at hand. Rather than submitting a presubmission enquiry, please submit your full manuscript to us for complete evaluation.
Aims and scope
Scientific Data is an open access journal dedicated to data, publishing descriptions of research datasets and articles on research data sharing from all areas of natural sciences, medicine, engineering and social sciences. It aims to advance the sharing and reuse of scientific data, promote wider data sharing and reuse, and to credit those that share.
Scientific Data primarily publishes Data Descriptors. These provide detailed descriptions of research datasets, including the methods used to collect the data and technical analyses supporting the quality of the measurements. Data Descriptors focus on helping others reuse data, rather than testing hypotheses, or presenting new interpretations, methods or in-depth analyses.
Scientific Data also welcomes submissions describing analyses or meta-analyses of existing data, and original articles on systems, technologies and techniques that advance data sharing and reuse to support reproducible research.
Scientific Data uses a thorough peer-review process that evaluates the rigour and quality of the experiments used to generate the data and the completeness of the description of the data. The actual data are stored in one or more public, community-recognized repositories, and release of the data is verified as a condition of publication.
Data Descriptors may describe data from new or published studies, and can be published alongside traditional research works. Data Descriptors that describe previously published datasets should provide new content sufficient to merit further publication: for example, updates to important datasets, fuller release of a dataset, or additional information that aids reuse. Please see our policies on complementary and prior publication.
Scientific Data is an open-access publication. To publish in Scientific Data authors are required to pay an article-processing charge (APC). Please see information on our current APC rates and licensing options, as well as our free open access funding support service.
Format of Data Descriptors
Scientific Data publishes descriptions of datasets under its primary article-type, the Data Descriptor. Please see our submission guidelines to learn how to draft and format your Data Descriptor, and to download a manuscript template. The main elements of a Data Descriptor manuscript are:
- Title (recommended length 110 characters or fewer)
- Abstract (maximum 170 words)
- Background & Summary (unlimited length)
- Methods (unlimited length)
- Data Records (unlimited length)
- Technical Validation (unlimited length)
- Usage Notes (unlimited length)
- Code Availability
Other content types
An ‘Analysis’ paper re-analyses or re-assesess existing open data, rather than sharing a new dataset. This format may be used to highlight examples of data reuse or present new findings and conclusions derived from published data. Analysis submissions are not required to use data previously published at Scientific Data. If the analysis relies on data that were not previously published, the authors may be invited to submit a Data Descriptor. Analysis submissions should exemplify reproducible research by clearly describing all steps in the analysis, providing supporting source code, and explaining how and where others may access all data underlying the analysis.
The ‘Article’ format can be used to present original reports on systems and techniques related to data sharing and reproducible research. Common topics include data policies, repositories, standards, ontologies, workflows or another other areas related to the mechanics or culture of data sharing.
Analyses and Articles should include an Introduction followed by sections headed Results, Discussion, Methods. All Analysis and Article submissions should include code and data availability statements. Guidance on writing a data availability statement can be found here. The Methods should be followed by References, Acknowledgements and a Competing interests statement.
‘Comment’ is a flexible format used to publish short commentaries or opinions on research data policy, workflows or infrastructure that don't need to report a specific technology or finding. Comments are generally 1-5 pages in length. They may include one figure, table or box, and up to 25 references, however these formats are flexible. Comments should begin with a bolded “standfirst” of one or two sentences that reads smoothly with the rest of the piece. They may not include supplementary information, and generally do not have separate abstracts or author contributions statement. They are required to include a competing interests statement. An acknowledgements section is optional.
All article types are peer-reviewed.
Submission to Scientific Data is taken to imply that the submitted manuscript has not been published elsewhere. Authors may not submit elsewhere while the manuscript is under consideration at Scientific Data. Authors may submit Data Descriptors describing data that have already been publicly released or even analysed in previous research articles, when a new publication would substantially extend the reuse value of these data, but any previous publications related to the dataset must be clearly cited in the Data Descriptor manuscript and discussed in the submission cover letter.
The primary affiliation for each author should be the institution where the majority of the work was done. If an author has subsequently moved, the current address may also be stated. Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
If the manuscript includes personal communications, please provide a written statement of permission from any person who is quoted. E-mail permission messages are acceptable.
The corresponding author will be sent proofs, and will be able to correct major scientific errors or inaccuracies in the title or author list, but Scientific Data reserves the right to limit the scope of changes.
Scientific Data reserves the right to reject a Data Descriptor even after it has been accepted if it becomes apparent that there are serious problems with the scientific content or violations of our publishing policies. For information relating to competing financial interests; pre-publication publicity; deposition of data as a condition of publication; availability of data and reagents after publication; human participants and animal subjects; digital image integrity; biosecurity; corrections and retractions; duplicate publication; confidentiality; and plagiarism, please see the Editorial and publishing policies of Scientific Data.
For information on our editorial process and criteria for publication please see our Guide to referees.
Scientific Data is editorially independent, and the Editors and Editorial Board Members make decisions independently from other Nature Publishing Group journals. It is for authors alone to decide where to submit their manuscripts. For manuscripts that could satisfy the scope of more than one Nature Publishing Group journal, the choice of which journal to submit to first lies with the authors.
Authors may wish to transfer works to Scientific Data after rejection at other journals, especially when the article describes valuable datasets. Our unique format means that, in most cases, the article will have to be revised before peer review. If a manuscript is rejected from a Nature Publishing Group journal, the authors can use an automated manuscript transfer service to submit the manuscript to Scientific Data.
Data Descriptor publications are designed to complement traditional research publications, and in certain cases Nature-titled journals will not consider previously published Data Descriptor publications to compromise the novelty of new manuscript submissions (please see our editorial policies on Complementary and Prior Publication). When authors have related research articles under consideration at another journal, we encourage them to check with the editors of that journal to make sure that publication of a Data Descriptor will not conflict with that of related manuscripts. Any related works that have been published previously must be mentioned and cited clearly in submitted manuscripts.
Copies of any papers containing similar or related work that are under consideration or in press at other journals should be included with the submission as additional supplementary information. Authors are asked to discuss any related works in their cover letter. Failure to provide copies of related works may delay editorial evaluation of a submission.
Scientific Data is an inclusive journal and will consider all submissions for peer review that fit our scope. In addition to this, members of our editorial team will assess submissions for compliance with our data policy and will communicate any changes required to prepare the paper for review. On completion of this step an Editorial Board Member will be assigned to oversee the peer-review process. Editorial Board Members may choose to recommend rejection without peer review for works that do not meet Scientific Data’s scope or standards, based on their own experience and expertise, however we expect the majority of publications to be assessed by reviewers.
During peer review the Editorial Board Member will invite one or more referees to evaluate the submission. After consideration, the Editorial Board Member will make one of the following decisions:
- Accept, with or without editorial revisions
- Request a minor revision, affording authors one month to revise their manuscript to address specific concerns
- Request a major revision, affording authors three months to revise their manuscript to address significant concerns and perhaps undertake additional work
Final decisions are made by the Editor in consultation with the Editorial Board Member overseeing the manuscript.
At the submission stage, authors may indicate a limited number of scientists who should not review their Data Descriptor. Excluded scientists must be identified by name. Authors may also suggest potential referees. By policy, referees are not identified to the authors, except at the request of the referee.
For resubmissions following minor or major revisions, authors are required to provide a response to reviewers via a point-by-point rebuttal and a revised manuscript, highlighted with changes (please note that tracked changes in .docx files are not supported by our manuscript submission system). These revisions will be assessed by the Editorial Board Member who may choose to send the manuscript back to reviewers for reassessment, after which a second decision will be communicated to you. While this two-step process is common to the majority of papers accepted to Scientific Data, multiple revisions may be required in some cases.
Any invited revisions should be submitted via the revision link to the online submission system provided in the decision letter, not as a new manuscript.
You can find out more about the review process at Scientific Data, and our criteria for publication, in our Guide for referees.
Any manuscripts previously rejected by the journal may be sent back to the original referees, or to new referees, at the Editor’s discretion. In such cases, revised manuscripts will not retain their earlier submission date. In either case, the revised manuscript should be accompanied by a point-by-point rebuttal explaining how the manuscript has changed with respect to any previous reviewer comments.
Final submission and acceptance
When the Editorial Board Member is satisfied with the scientific content of the paper the manuscript will receive an "Accept in Principle" decision containing our final formatting requests. Authors are requested to make these changes and resubmit the final version for publication, after which a final Accept decision will be communicated. The received date is when the Editor received the first version of the manuscript. The Accepted date is when the Editor sends the final acceptance letter. Corresponding authors are sent proofs; however, the production process does not allow minor changes. Only changes in the title or author list, or to correct major scientific errors, will be permitted at this stage. All corrections will be approved by the publishing team. Scientific Data reserves the right to make the final decision about matters of style and the size of figures.
Even in cases where Scientific Data does not invite resubmission, some authors may ask the Editorial Board to reconsider a rejection decision. These are considered as appeals. Only one appeal is permitted for each manuscript, and appeals can only take place after peer review. Decisions are reversed on appeal only if the Editor and relevant Editorial Board Member consider there to be a mistake with the review process, such as an insufficient, improper or bias assessment, but only if a reversal of that referee’s opinion would have changed the original decision. Similarly, disputes on factual issues need not be resolved unless they were critical to the outcome. If an appeal merits further consideration, the Editor or Editorial Board Member may send the authors’ response or the revised Data Descriptor to the original referees or additional experts.
Editorial and publishing policies
Please see our full editorial and publishing policies. The following information can be found in this document:
- 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 financial interests
- Embargo policy and press releases
- Confidentiality and pre-publicity
- Digital image integrity and standards
- Biosecurity concerns
- Refutations, complaints and corrections
- Duplicate publication
- Plagiarism and appropriate attribution
For general editorial enquiries relating to Scientific Data, including manuscript submission queries, and for enquiries relating to the Advisory Panel or the Editorial Board, please contact email@example.com. Please see our Contact page for more detailed information.