Q: Is editing support given to manuscripts published in Nature? What level of editing is done? Is this editing done in house or outsourced? Are you and the authors pleased with the level of editing?
A: When a manuscript is submitted to Nature it goes through several rounds of peer review – the manuscript as accepted is very different from the version submitted. The peer-reviewers (typically 2 or 3) and the editors provide substantial structural (developmental) editing suggestions. All manuscripts accepted in principle for publication go through a detailed checklist procedure to guide the author both in matters of clarity and in important points such as financial interest declarations, supplementary information, and so on.
After acceptance, we use a combination of automatic editing tools for routine structuring (eg ordering and styling reference lists) but have a dedicated team of sub (copy) editors who edit the manuscript in Word, sending the author an edited version of the ms with changes tracked. The subeditor also manages the artwork process (all figures are relettered and sized by a dedicated art department), and the proofing-out process in which the author is sent a PDF to sign off. We officially don’t accept “new” changes on proof but in practice we do if they are reasonable. The subeditors also manage any post-publication correction process, in consultation with the manuscript editors.
The only part of this editorial process that is done externally is the typesetting. The rest of it is done in-house, with an increasing number of technical tools such as tracking systems.
Nature also has review, opinion and comment sections as well as a comprehensive weekly and daily news service. These are all produced in-house: editing, graphics, art, layout. All of our web production and processes are done in-house, some parts of the process are managed by our team in Bangalore but all of our standard web production and development is done in-house.
Nature authors are pleased at the level of editing help they receive – we regularly conduct author experience surveys, and are currently doing market research among groups of readers. As a senior editor at Nature I am very happy with the subediting process we run here – having the team in-house is extremely flexible for adding in web functionality, metadata and developing new templates and other projects, as well as the more traditional editing tasks.