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Editorial Guidelines for Nature Outlook and Nature Outline supported supplements

Editorial Guidelines for Nature Outlook and Nature Outline supported supplements

These guidelines apply to the Nature Outlook and Nature Outline supplements. Both are forms of supported content that Nature produces with financial support from external organizations and that adhere to Nature’s rigorous standards of editorial independence.

A Nature Outlook supplement explores an important scientific area in more depth and at greater length than is often possible within the weekly Nature journal. Nature Outlook supplements can encompass a diversity of print and online formats and cover any topic that lies within the broad scope of Nature’s mission statement. Nature Outlooks can include reported articles from science journalists, opinion pieces authored by experts in the field, infographics, brief summaries of relevant research papers, Q&A pieces, and other editorial formats that deliver a well-rounded understanding of a fast-moving area of science, technology or medicine.

A Nature Outline supplement is an examination of a narrower scientific topic that consists of a set of visual elements that may include data charts, explanatory illustrations, maps and other infographics, as well as a short video animation.

Nature Outlook and Nature Outline supplements are supported financially by partner organizations. They are edited by Nature editorial staff (or those appointed by us) to the same standards expected for magazine content in any Nature Research publication. To maintain the quality, impact, integrity and independence of the supplement, in line with Nature’s established identity, the boundaries of partner involvement are clearly delineated. All parties adhere to a clear set of editorial guidelines that ensure editorial independence and that apply along the length of the process. This is to ensure that readers, partners and editorial teams clearly understand the positioning of the product and to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

  1. Overview of topic: The broad topic of a Nature Outlook and Nature Outline is decided jointly by Nature’s editorial team and the partner organization. Nature’s editorial team has final say, and a supplement will only be published if the editorial team deems the topic to be of interest to Nature’s readers. In cases of dispute, the final decision rests with the Editor-in-Chief of Nature.
  2. Synopsis: Once the overview is approved, the supplement editor will produce a synopsis of the supplement that reflects their editorial vision and takes into account the partner’s ideas.
  3. Content: The content of a supplement is created by the editorial team with no involvement from the partner organization. The editorial team will not share copy with the partner organization during the writing and editing process.
  4. Disclosure: All contributors to a Nature Outlook or Nature Outline supplement will be informed that the supplement is financially supported by a partner organization.
    1. Journalists who are assigned objective, reported articles will be told which industry sector the partner organization belongs to (for example, pharmaceuticals or medical devices), but not the partner’s identity. We require journalists to disclose conflicts of interest, for example, recent paid work for an organization involved in that sector. Shielding journalists from the identity of the partner organization enables them to report and write their stories without being subject to any bias in how the partner is covered. This is crucial for editorial independence.
    2. Expert authors from academia, industry, government or non-profit institutions will be told who the partner is. This additional level of disclosure is appropriate because expert authors may have professional relationships with a number of organizations; only if they are told the name of the supplement’s funding partner can they be sure that they have no relationships that represent a conflict of interest.
    3. The editorial team will emphasise to all contributors that they are expected to write and report without regard to the existence or identity of a partner organization. Their contributions are expected to be editorially and journalistically independent; the articles are not advertorials.
  5. Sponsor Features: Supplements may include Sponsor Features from partner organizations that appear alongside the editorial content. Partners themselves have sole responsibility for the content of Sponsor Features. The content, labelling and governance of Sponsor Features are controlled by a detailed set of requirements. These Sponsor Features are not part of the editorial content of the supplement, and are not edited by Nature’s editorial team. They are subject to veto if judged irrelevant, misleading or otherwise damaging and are clearly distinguishable from editorial content through formatting, labelling and other statements.
  6. Distribution: Supported supplements may be published in other Springer Nature publications (such as Scientific American) in addition to Nature. The editorial team will notify contributors if the article they are working on will have such additional distribution.
  7. Roles:
    1. Writers: Commissioned writers should go about their work exactly as they would for any magazine content for any of the Nature Research journals – with the clear understanding that the partner organization cannot influence the tone or content of their work.
    2. Partners: With a Nature Outlook or Nature Outline, partner organizations have input into the overall topic area of the supplement – they will be able to suggest themes, angles and information that they would like to see highlighted and recommend experts to consult. The editorial team is not obliged to accept any of the partner’s suggestions. The partner organization will not be involved in the commissioning of the supplement’s content. A partner will not be told which journalists or expert authors are contributing to the supplement, and will have no role in suggesting writers. Partners will not be allowed to view the editorially independent content prior to publication.
  8. Design and presentation: Standard Nature supplement fonts and conventions are used online and in print. The logo of the partner organization and words to the effect of “Produced with support from [name of partner]” will appear on the cover of the print supplement and on the supplement landing page online. All other design aspects, including cover design, are the responsibility of the editorial team.For purposes of transparency, the online version of each article will include a statement that makes explicit the existence of financial support from a third party.

Last updated November 2020.

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