Nature Outlook Sponsored Supplements
A Nature Outlook Supplement will explore an important topic in more depth, using a different approach and/or having a different focus than is possible within the weekly Nature journal. Nature Outlook Sponsored Supplements can encompass a wide diversity of print and online formats and cover any topic that lies within the broad range of Nature’s mission statement. Outlooks can combine the most salient research and journalistic content that has previously been published within Nature with fresh, specifically commissioned material (which could include up-to-date insights from leading experts). The result will be an authoritative and unique publication that will appeal to a range of audiences.
In order to maintain the quality, impact, integrity and independence of the supplement, in line with Nature’s established identity, the boundaries of sponsor involvement need to be clearly delineated. This includes both the visual presentation of the supplement and adherence to a clear set of editorial guidelines that apply along the length of the process. This will ensure that everyone involved — clients, commercial teams, editors, journalists, interviewees and the readers — clearly understands the positioning of the product and avoids any conflicts of interest; real or perceived.
These guidelines apply only to the Nature Outlook Sponsored Supplements programme, and are relevant for supplements that have been developed from both internally and externally contributed ideas.
Outline of Concept
Nature Outlook Sponsored Supplements will be edited and written by Nature editorial staff (or those appointed by us) to the same standards expected for the regular journal. They will aim to stimulate interest and debate around a subject of interest to the sponsor, while satisfying the editorial values of Nature and our readers’ expectations.
The Nature supplements editor has final say on whether a supplement will go ahead or not. If necessary the editor may refer the concept to a wider editorial group or upwards for discussion. The supplements editor may accept, refuse or request that conditions (extra but not contrary to these guidelines) be attached to the supplement. The supplements editor is responsible for producing a high quality supplement irrespective of who is sponsoring it.
Once the concept is approved, it is usual for the supplements editor to have a briefing with the sponsor and with editorial colleagues after which s/he will produce a synopsis that takes into account the client’s ideas but satisfies his/her own editorial judgment. We recognise that sponsorship is a form of partnership but the editor must ensure the supplement represents a fair and accurate view of the topic.
The synopsis will be sent to the client for feedback. The supplements editor can then discuss the feedback with the sponsor and if necessary draft a revised version incorporating any suggestions that s/he thinks appropriate and consistent with Nature editorial values. The aim should be to arrive at an outline with which both parties are happy. Questions of fairness and balance should be addressed and finalised at this stage. If the sponsor and supplements editor cannot agree, the supplement cannot go ahead. In cases of dispute, the final decision rests with the Editor-in-Chief of Nature.
The supplements editor will not be subject to pressure to revise content once writers have been commissioned. The supplements editor has no obligation to show copy to the sponsor during the writing and editing process.
The supplements editor must remain impartial: s/he may contribute articles and/or an introduction to the supplement, but not an editorial column. In their introductions to sponsored material, editors should acknowledge and thank the sponsors, but must also make it clear that all content is the responsibility solely of Nature.
Everyone asked to write for a supplement will be told what they are contributing to and who is sponsoring it. But the supplements editor must emphasise to all writers that their journalism should be unchanged by the fact that a third party is sponsoring the supplement. This is not advertorial.
Supplements may include sponsor’s content. This is subject to editorial veto if judged misleading or otherwise damaging. It must be presented in a design style that clearly distinguishes it from editorial content, it must be labelled “advertising feature” or “sponsor’s content”, and should also include an explicit statement that editorial bears no responsibility for its content. All sponsor material should follow the separate detailed technical specification guidelines on the provision of such content.
Writers: Commissioned writers should go about their work exactly as they would for any article for any of theNature journals — in the clear understanding that the sponsor cannot interfere with the tone or content of their work. Where appropriate, writers should tell those they interview that the article is for a sponsored supplement.
Sponsors: With a Nature Outlook, the sponsor will have input into the planning (ie the synopsis) of the supplement: they will be able to suggest themes, angles and information that they would like to see highlighted; recommend experts for interview; and request certain information be included. The supplements editor will consider all such suggestions but is not obliged to accept any.
Sponsors are asked to respect the inclusion in the supplement of dissenting voices or competitor activities, if they provide balance and if their exclusion would be misleading. Accuracy is an editorial requirement and produces a more satisfying and informative read.
A sponsor cannot say which journalists should or should not be commissioned to write for the supplement.
Once the synopsis has been agreed the supplements editor or writer may call on a sponsor’s expertise in the subject area, but sponsors will not be involved in the commissioning of the supplement and should not seek to direct a journalist’s article. Sponsors should not expect to view the content prior to publication, excepting the material they have directly submitted.
The usual Nature Outlook Sponsored Supplement fonts and conventions can be used. The sponsor’s logo and words to the effect of:“Produced with support from [name of sponsor]” may appear on the cover or in the masthead, according to the level of sponsorship provided. All other design aspects, including cover design, are the responsibility of the supplements editor – and subject to the same conditions as described above
Wider presentation of supplements
When sponsored supplements are promoted inside the journal or on the website, the wording should make the sponsorship element explicit.