The editors' answers to your most pressing questions.
If you have a pertinent question that is not answered here, you can add it to the comments at the end of this post, which we may update on a regular basis.
About the journal's scope
Q1. Do you consider manuscripts reporting clinical trials?
Q2. Do you only consider engineering or applied research?
We also consider basic findings, as long as they are directly relevant to human health or disease, and make significant use of concepts, methodology or techniques from engineering or the physical sciences (such as materials, nanotechnology, chemistry or physics).
Q3. Do you consider biology manuscripts?
If the manuscript has no direct connection with human health or disease, we won't. If it doesn't involve concepts, tools or knowledge from the physical sciences or engineering, we won't either.
Q4. If I have published preliminary findings from my work in a conference proceeding, will you consider the full study for publication?
It depends. You have to tell us at submission, and include a copy of the conference proceeding. We will then assess both the published results and the manuscript submitted, in particular the degree of overlap between the two.
About submitting manuscripts
Q5. Do I have to submit figures and text separately?
Please don't. We like to see the figures placed most conveniently along the text. So do reviewers.
Q6. Can I ask you about the suitability of my manuscript for the journal?
You can send a presubmission enquiry. However, if you have the manuscript ready, submit it. If you only have a draft, but want quick advice (for example, as to whether it fits the journal's scope), send the draft by e-mail; if you don't have the draft, you can send a synopsis and any relevant figures. Our advice can only be as useful as the information that you provide. Please do not send a slide deck; your voice will not come through.
Q7. Will you reject my paper if it's not well written?
No. Our decisions are only made on the basis of editorial considerations, such as scientific significance, broad implications and breadth and depth of the results described in the manuscript. We do not assess grammar, language and storytelling. But future readers of your manuscript will certainly appreciate a good story. We recommend that you ask a colleague to critique your writing. Or you might like to use a professional language-editing service.
Q8. Do I have to make my figures beautiful to increase my chances at getting my manuscript sent to peer reviewers?
Editors and peer reviewers enjoy beautiful figures; yet enjoy clear figures and data even more. So our advice is that you focus on the latter. Should we eventually publish your manuscript, our art editors and typesetters will make the figures even more beautiful.
Q9. Can I submit a manuscript that I have previously posted on a preprint server?
Yes. Nature journals support the posting of submitted manuscripts on community preprint servers, such as the bioRxiv, and posting a manuscript in a preprint server will not affect our consideration of it. You can actually post the original submitted version at any time (even after submission). If we publish your manuscript, the published version ― copyedited and formatted by us ― may not be posted online. The author's accepted version can be posted in a preprint server from 6 months after the publication date of the paper. Also, please be aware that papers posted in a preprint server are not embargoed, and journalists are free to write whatever they wish on the basis of the posted manuscript. Posting to a preprint server can affect subsequent publicity. If you need to know more, see here.
Q10. Can I suggest names of experts that may be able to review my manuscript?
Please do. You can use the 'comment' box in our manuscript tracking system when you submit a manuscript. Please do not suggest colleagues you have co-authored publications with (we always check this) or with whom you have an active collaboration. In any case, to minimize any potential biases unknown to us, we do not select all reviewers from the authors' name list.
Q11. Can I submit a cover suggestion?
Sure, but we won't do anything with it unless we have accepted a manuscript from you.
About manuscript decisions
Q12. How do you decide whether to send a manuscript out for peer review?
For manuscripts that fit the journal's scope, we assess the work in a scientific context that is wider than that typically considered by a specialist in the topic, yet much narrower than the journal's scope. Often, we assess a manuscript from several contexts, in particular if the work is interdisciplinary. The bases of assessment are, in order of importance: degree of advance, implications of the findings, and breadth and depth of the work. Needless to say, we first need to have understood the main findings and how they have been obtained. Often we have to read recently published work before we can take a decision.
Q13. How many editors assess each manuscript before peer review?
In most cases, one. Sometimes two. On occasion three. In most cases, any editor in the team would reach the same verdict. Sometimes, we have long discussions. On occasion, we seek additional expert help.
Q14. Does including a famous professor as co-author influence the editorial assessment?
No. If the professor has been involved in the design of the study, the experiments (or calculations or theory), or the interpretation of the findings, for example, they may deserve to have their name included in the author list. All the papers that we publish must specify the contributions of each author. For details, see here. As for editorial criteria, please see Q12.
Q15. I am a young scientist at a small University. Will this affect the editorial assessment of my manuscript?
Q16. I am a top PI at a top university. You will send my manuscript to peer reviewers, right?
Please refer to Q12.
Q17. Can I appeal your decision?
Yes, should you feel that you have convincing scientific arguments that refute our feedback in the decision letter. We will try to get back to you within two weeks (and when possible, within a few days).
About peer review
Q18. Do you offer double-blind peer review?
Yes, and so do all Nature journals. And we can't override your choice of single- or double-blind peer review. Please do check our guide for anonymizing manuscripts.
Q19. If my manuscript is considered for peer review, how many revisions do you allow?
As few as possible, and as many as needed to iron out any issues. We strive to maximize the speed of publication, yet not at the expense of scientific quality.
Q20. How much time will I have to revise a manuscript after peer review at Nature Biomedical Engineering?
It depends. When there are major issues to be addressed, we will typically give you 15 weeks. For minor corrections, we may give you 4 weeks or less. On occasion and after discussion with the authors, we may allow for extended revision periods. The revision deadline will give you protection against scooping. If you submit a revised manuscript after the revision deadline, we will still consider the work should the significance of the claims still stand. In this case, however, we will not retain the original submission date.
Q21. How many peer-reviewers review each manuscript?
We typically aim to recruit three experts for original research manuscripts, Reviews and Perspectives, yet we consult with more when needed. For opinion pieces, we may need fewer pairs of eyes. We feel that it is more important to gather all the necessary expertise to technically assess the manuscript than the specific number of peer reviewers recruited.
Q22. Do I have to pay to publish in the journal?
No. Publishing costs are covered by subscriptions to the journal. However, authors and any reader with subscription access will be able to freely share web links to the full-text of their paper or to any content they have access to. Please check Springer Nature's SharedIt initiative.
Q23. How do you choose the issue cover?
We want covers to be, above all, visually attractive and scientifically meaningful. Ideally, it comes from one of the best papers that we are including in the issue. And we try to have a balance of topics over time. Often, we don't manage to meet all these criteria.
Q24. Will you edit my paper?
If we accept your manuscript, we will be happy to suggest a better title and edit or rewrite the abstract if needed. And we will tell you what parts of the manuscript you should improve if any. In the rare event that the manuscript needs major editing and you can't get suitable help, we will help you edit the manuscript until we are happy with it.