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Who can participate in the Nature-UC open science pilot?

The Nature-UC open science pilot is open to corresponding authors from all ten UC campuses who are interested in having their neuroscience research paper considered by either Nature or Nature Neuroscience. Participation is voluntary (opt-in).

What are the benefits of participating?

  • Open access publishing without any cost to authors: For accepted articles, the Article Processing Charge and Editorial Assessment Charge (see below under “What is an Editorial Assessment Report?”) will be covered by the UC libraries and Springer Nature.
  • Consideration by more than one journal through a single submission: UC corresponding authors can submit to either Nature or Nature Neuroscience as appropriate. If the paper is reviewed at either journal, the author will receive feedback on what revisions would be appropriate in order to be published in these journals, as well as on whether the manuscript is appropriate for publication in Nature Communications.
  • Related open science support: Authors will receive collaborative advice through all the stages of publishing and an Editorial Assessment Report after a round of external peer review. (See more under “What is Guided Open Access?” and “What is an Editorial Assessment Report?”). In addition, authors will receive support for making research outputs openly available, including open access for articles, and optional open access for data, code, and peer review reports.
  • Input on open science practices: Participants will be asked to provide feedback to Springer Nature on all aspects of the pilot study.

How does an author participate in the Nature-UC Open Science pilot?

Any author wishing to be part of the pilot needs to write to the chief editor of Nature (Francesca Cesari, f.cesari@nature.com) or Nature Neuroscience (Kevin Da Silva, k.dasilva@us.nature.com) requesting to be part of the Nature-UC Open Science pilot. The authors will then receive an invitation to submit their paper, which will include instructions for preparing their manuscript and a personalized link to submit to Nature’s guided open access portal. Authors submitting via the usual Nature Journals portal will not be able to take part in the pilot.

For more information on how to submit, please contact Nature’s Editorial Support team.

How long does the pilot last? How many articles or authors will be included?

The anticipated length of the pilot is April 15, 2021 to April 2022. The expected number of published manuscripts is approximately 10 UC-authored papers in Nature or Nature Neuroscience, and the submission window of the pilot may be altered to manage the anticipated output. 

Which journals will be included in the Nature-UC Open Science pilot?

The trial is open to authors of neuroscience research papers that are peer reviewed at Nature and Nature Neuroscience. The neuroscience community has been chosen as the focus of this pilot because it is a community that is exploring open science practices.

Does volunteering for the Nature-UC open science pilot improve an author’s chances of being peer reviewed or published by one of the participating Nature journals?

Opting in to the pilot does not guarantee acceptance for peer review or publication by Nature or Nature Neuroscience. Any UC-affiliated author can submit their neuroscience-related manuscript to the pilot for consideration. Such manuscripts will be considered for peer review and publication according to the same standards as any manuscript submitted to the participating journals, and will be sent for peer review only if they are considered by Nature to be of sufficient quality and significance to be published in these journals.

If an author is not reviewed at either Nature or Nature Neuroscience, can the author submit to Nature Communications as part of the pilot?

In order for an author to be part of the pilot, the author’s article needs to initially be peer reviewed at either Nature or Nature Neuroscience. If following peer review, the paper is not considered suitable for either Nature or Nature Neuroscience, Nature may suggest a revised manuscript be resubmitted to Nature Communications. In this case the author will remain in the pilot and the author will not be responsible for the cost of publication in Nature Communications.

If at submission to Nature or Nature Neuroscience, the manuscript is not considered to be suitable for peer review at either of these journals, the author will no longer be considered as part of the pilot. The editors may make a recommendation for submission to Nature Communications or Communications Biology at this point, and the author would then need to submit directly to one of these journals, or follow a transfer process. In this case, the fees for peer review and subsequent publication would not be paid by the UC libraries and Springer Nature.

What is the Guided Open Access pilot and how does it relate to the Nature-UC pilot?

The Nature-UC open science pilot offers a customized version of Nature’s Guided Open Access pilot, which is not specific to the University of California. Guided Open Access is a new publishing process being explored by Springer Nature that expands the role of Nature’s in-house editors to offer collaborative advice for authors through all the stages of publishing, from initial submission to final publication. For authors opting in to the Guided OA pilot and who pass an initial round of quality assurance, Nature’s editors will assess author manuscripts and manage a full peer review process. Nature editors will offer guidance and support through the full journey, including a commitment to working with authors to find the right home for their papers with just a single submission. If these pilots are successful, guided open access may become available in other Nature journals in the future.

What is an Editorial Assessment Report and what is its role in the pilot?

Authors whose articles are accepted for peer review under the Nature-UC Open Science pilot will receive an Editorial Assessment Report (EAR), which is a tailored package providing:

  • guidance on suitability for the participating Nature journals;
  • a detailed assessment of the experimental framework, including guidance on how to increase the rigor and reproducibility of the research and align with open research practices; and
  • guidance from a Nature portfolio editor on how to navigate the reviewer reports, including reports from one round of external peer review.  

Upon receiving the EAR, authors can choose to continue down the recommended journal publication route  or take the manuscript and the editorial assessment report to another journal. Springer Nature’s aim in developing and offering the EAR is to facilitate publication within the Nature portfolio, increase engagement with other open science initiatives, and save authors time. 

Authors participating in the Nature-UC Open Science pilot will not be responsible for the fee associated with the creation of the EAR, called the Editorial Assessment Charge. It is covered by the UC libraries and Springer Nature.

Will journals by publishers other than Springer Nature accept the editorial assessment report? Will having this report streamline any subsequent editorial consideration at those other journals?

Springer Nature’s aim for the Guided Open Access pilot is to find all manuscripts a home in the Nature portfolio. However, if authors decide they wish to take their manuscript elsewhere, Springer Nature anticipates that editorial standards behind the editorial assessment report will encourage the use of the report by other publishers.

What are the open science initiatives authors will be asked to engage with as part of this pilot?

The following elements are included in the open science pilot, with only one — Guided Open Access — required for participation. (For more information about guided open access, see above under “What is the Guided Open Access pilot?”)

Pilot elementDescriptionMandatory vs Optional
Guided open accessNew publishing process in which Nature’s in-house editors offer collaborative advice for authors through all the stages of publishing, from initial submission to final publicationMandatory
Transparent peer reviewPublication of reviewer reportsOptional
Preprint depositionDeposition in any community preprint server or In ReviewOptional
Code reviewDeposition and review of codeOptional
Data accessData deposition in open repositoriesOptional
Data descriptorPublication of a data descriptor for large data setsOptional
Protocol depositionDeposition of protocol in open repository of community-contributed protocols such as Protocol ExchangeOptional

Are there other obligations for the author in addition to open science engagement?

Authors who opt-in to the pilot will be interviewed at the end of the peer review process to gain a better understanding of their attitudes and experience with respect to open science practices and their experience of the pilot. These author interviews and the output of the pilot will be collated into case studies as part of a white paper for external publication.

How was this pilot created?

The UC/Springer Nature open science pilot was developed as part of the UC/Springer Nature agreement signed in 2020. The pilot was developed by a team of faculty and graduate students from UCSF working in collaboration with Springer Nature to define the terms of the pilot and how outcomes will be assessed.

The members of the collaborative UC / Springer Nature team that developed the pilot, and who will participate in assessing it, are:

From UCSF:

  • Sam Pleasure, Professor of Neurology, UCSF
  • Mazen Kheirbek, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, UCSF
  • Jennifer Cummings, Graduate Student, UC Berkeley/UCSF Bioengineering Graduate Program
  • Michael Reitman, Graduate Student, Neuroscience Graduate Program, UCSF
  • Marta Margeta, Associate Professor of Pathology, UCSF
  • Rich Schneider, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, UCSF

 From Springer Nature:

  • Ruth Wilson, Publishing Director, Nature Research Journals
  • Ritu Dhand, Vice President Editorial, Nature Journals
  • Sowmya Swaminathan, Head of Editorial Policy, Nature Research
  • Kevin Da Silva, Chief Editor, Nature Neuroscience

Where can I find more information?

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