Science: editorial policies

General policies

Research standards

Publication policies

This section outlines our Editorial Policies, for general information on manuscript types see our Information for Authors.

General policies

Authorship

Authors in Science must fulfill the criteria described below that are informed by the ISMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) definition of authorship. Specifically, contributions should be one or more of the following:

  1. Formulation of theory and prediction
  2. Contributions to experimental conception and design
  3. Acquisition, analysis and/or interpretation of data
  4. Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content

All individuals who meet these criteria must be listed as authors. In addition, all authors must agree to be so listed and are expected to critically read and approve the submitted version and the version to be published.

Ghost authorship (in which individuals who have made author-level contributions to the paper are not included in the author list) is not permitted for papers published in Science. Nor is guest or honorary authorship. Other individuals who have participated in generation of the research paper but who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in the acknowledgement section with a brief indication of the nature of their contribution.

Any changes in authorship must be approved in writing by all of the original authors. Science will send an email to all authors to confirm receipt of each paper. Submission of a paper that has not been approved by all authors may result in immediate rejection without appeal. For manuscripts that are accepted, all authors are required to affirm and explain their contribution to the manuscript, agree to the conditions of publication including the availability of data and materials, and declare any conflicts of interest. The senior author from each group is required to have examined the raw data their group has produced. We encourage all authors to state their contribution to the study in the acknowledgements section; this information will be published in the paper.

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Conflict Of Interest

Authors. To meet its responsibility to readers and to the public to provide clear and unbiased scientific results and analyses, Science requires manuscripts (including Essays, Perspectives, Policy Forums, Reports, Research Articles, and Reviews) to be accompanied by clear disclosures from all authors of the nature and level of their contribution to the article, their understanding regarding the obligation to share data and materials, and any affiliations, funding sources, and financial or management relationships related to the reported research that might raise questions about possible sources of bias. Patents (whether applications or awards to the authors or home institutions) related to the work should also be declared. The editors will decide whether this information will be included in the published manuscript as competing interests. Before manuscript acceptance, authors will be asked to sign an authorship/conflict-of-interest form. Specific information will be sent to most authors at the time of manuscript revision.

Authorship Form and Statement of Conflicts of Interest [PDF]

Reviewers. Reviewers form the cornerstone of the peer-review process, and their evaluations ensure the quality of published research. Therefore, the editors seek reviewers for Science who do not have conflicts of interest with the authors or reported research in the manuscripts they read. In addition to this precaution, reviewers are required to disclose any previously unreported conflicts with the evaluation of the paper, and this information is taken into account by the editors when decisions are made.

Editorial Staff. Editors for Science are required to fill out a conflict of interest form, which is then evaluated by Science/AAAS management. Editors for Science may not have any financial or management interest in any biotechnology, pharmaceutical or biomedical or engineering device institution or company.

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Prior Publication and Presentations at Meetings

Science will not consider any original research paper or component of a research paper that has been published or is under consideration for publication elsewhere. Distribution on the Internet may be considered prior publication and may compromise the originality of the paper as a submission to Science, although we do allow posting of research papers on not-for-profit preprint servers such as arxiv.org and bioRxiv. Please contact the editors with questions regarding allowable postings to other servers.

We generally encourage presentation of original results prior to publication at scientific meetings. Nevertheless, press coverage and presentation at scientific conferences can sometimes affect consideration of papers at Science. For example, reporting the main findings of a paper in the mass media can compromise the novelty of the work and thus its appropriateness for Science. Therefore, authors should feel free to present their data at scientific meetings but should not overtly seek media attention or give copies of the figures or data from their manuscript to any reporter. If a reporter attends an author's session at a meeting and writes a story based only on the presentation, such coverage will not affect Science’s consideration of the author's paper.

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Unpublished Data and Personal Communications

Citations to unpublished data and personal communications cannot be used to support significant claims in the paper. Papers will be held for publication until all “in press” citations are published.

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Related Papers

Copies of papers submitted to other journals or that are in press as of the date that the revised manuscript is returned by any of the authors that relate to the paper submitted to Science must be included with the submission or revision. Access to this material will let the editors put the results in the submission in the proper context and make the best decision regarding the submitted manuscript. Failure to disclose related papers may lead to rejection at any time.

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Security concerns 

Authors and reviewers are expected to notify editors if a manuscript could be considered to report dual use research of concern (DURC). The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has defined Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) as “life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security”( http://osp.od.nih.gov/office-biotechnology-activities/biosecurity/dual-use-research-concern) Papers identified as possible DURC will be brought to the attention of the Editor-in-Chief for further evaluation. If necessary, outside reviewers with expertise in the area will be consulted.

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RESEARCH STANDARDS

In Science Research Articles and Reports, the Materials and Methods section is published online so that sufficient detail can be provided to allow replication of the study.  Study design should be described in detail and reagent description should facilitate replication (for example source and purity should be specified, there should be evidence that antibodies have been validated, and cell lines should be authenticated). Statistics must also be comprehensively described as outlined below. Science follows the principles and guidelines for reporting preclinical research available at http://www.nih.gov/about/reporting-preclinical-research.htm. Data must be available either in the main text or Supplementary Material, archived in an approved database (with accession number included in the acknowledgements) (see [data deposition] (data deposition#)). Any concerns about your ability to meet Science 's requirements must be disclosed and discussed with an editor.

Statistical Analysis

Generally, authors should describe statistical methods with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to verify the results.

  • Data pre-processing steps such as transformations, re-coding, re-scaling, normalization, truncation, and handling of below detectable level readings and outliers should be fully described; any removal or modification of data values must be fully acknowledged and justified.
  • Descriptive statistics should be presented for variables that are integral to subsequent analyses and interpretation of the study findings.
  • The number of sampled units, N, upon which each reported statistic is based must be stated.
  • For continuous variables, distributions should be described using graphical displays such as scatterplots, boxplots, or histograms or by reporting measures of central tendency (e.g., mean or median) and dispersion (e.g., SD, interquartile range).
  • For continuous variables that are approximately normally distributed, mean and SD are suitable measures for center and dispersion, respectively.
  • For continuous variables with asymmetrical distributions, median and range (or interquartile range) are preferred to mean and SD.
  • All measures of central tendency or dispersion that are used should be identified.
  • For very small samples sizes (e.g., N < 20), presentation of all data values in tabular format is desirable unless presentation would violate restrictions for privacy or confidentiality for human subjects.
  • Units should be supplied for all measurements.
  • Methods used for conducting statistical tests (e.g., t-test, Wilcoxon signed rank test, Wald test of regression coefficient) and for constructing confidence intervals (e.g., normal-based 95% CI: mean ± 2SD, likelihood ratio-based interval) should be clearly stated. Mention methods used in the Materials and Methods and then provide the individual test name in the figure legend for each experiment.
  • The testing level (alpha) and whether one-sided or two-sided testing was used should be reported for each statistical test; typically two-sided testing is appropriate, but if one-sided testing is used its use should be justified.
  • Adjustments made to alpha levels (e.g., Bonferroni correction) or other procedure used to account for multiple testing (e.g., false discovery rate control) should be reported.
  • When Bayesian analyses are conducted, any assumptions made for prior distributions must be fully described.
  • Sufficient information should be supplied to allow readers to judge whether any assumptions necessary for the validity of statistical approaches (e.g., data are normally distributed, survival data are consistent with proportional hazards in a Cox regression model) have been verified.
  • An accounting of missing data values should be provided; if imputed data values are used in statistical analyses, the methods used for imputation should be fully described.
  • Novel or highly complex statistical methods or computational algorithms should be adequately described with references supplied to allow readers the opportunity to recreate the calculations; at its discretion, the Journal may require that computer code and data be made available as supplementary information as a condition of publication.

Authors should present results in complete and transparent fashion so that stated conclusions are backed by appropriate statistical evaluation and limitations of the study are frankly discussed.

  • Point estimates of population parameters (e.g., mean, correlation coefficient, slope) or comparative measures (e.g., mean difference, odds ratio, hazard ratio) should be accompanied by a measure of uncertainty such as a standard error or a confidence interval.
  • Results of each statistical test should be reported in full with the value of the test statistic and p-value, and not simply reported as significant or non-significant; more than two significant digits on p-values are usually not needed except in situations of extreme multiple testing such as in genetic association studies where stringent corrections for multiple testing might be used.
  • Any results that are reported to constitute a blinded, independent validation of a statistical model (or mathematical classifier or predictor) must be accompanied by a detailed explanation that includes: 1) specification of the exact “locked down” form of the model, including all data processing steps, algorithm for calculating the model output, and any cutpoints that might be applied to the model output for final classification, 2) date on which the model or predictor was fully locked down in exactly the form described, 3) name of the individual(s) who maintained the blinded data and oversaw the evaluation (e.g., honest broker), 4) statement of assurance that no modifications, additions, or exclusion were made to the validation data set from the point at which the model was locked down and that neither the validation data nor any subset of it had ever been used to assess or refine the model being tested

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Reporting Guidelines

Authors are encouraged to follow published standard reporting guidelines for the study discipline. A chart providing links to major biomedical research reporting guidelines is available at the [U.S. National Library of Medicine] (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/services/research_report_guide.html). Other guidelines may be found at the relevant society web-site, for example the American Chemical Society gives standards for the characterization of organic and inorganic molecular compounds. http://pubs.acs.org/page/jacsat/submission/inorg_character.html, http://pubs.acs.org/page/jacsat/submission/org_character.html.

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Guidelines for Specific Types of Studies

Human subjects research

Informed consent must be obtained for studies on humans after the nature and possible consequences of the studies are explained. A statement that informed consent was obtained must also appear in the manuscript. All research on humans must have approval from the institutional IRB (Institutional Review Board) or an equivalent body. The editors reserve the right to request IRB documents associated with a particular paper.

Clinical trials

A CONSORT Statement. [CONSORT] (http://www.consort-statement.org/consort-2010) includes recommendations, a checklist of items that should be included in a comprehensive report, and a participant flow diagram. The recommended checklist should be completed and provided at the time of manuscript submission. The recommended trial flow diagram may be presented as a figure (usually Fig. 1). Reports of randomized controlled trials that do not conform to the CONSORT guidelines may be returned to authors for revision prior to formal review.
Registration of clinical trials. Clinical trials should generally be registered in accordance with the criteria outlined by the [International Committee of Medical Journal Editors ] (http://www.icmje.org/), including the June 2007 update. Authors should provide the trial registration number in the Acknowledgements section and provide a link to the trial registration, to be cited as a reference.

Biomarker studies

Putative biomarkers must be evaluated with an independent validation set. Reports of unvalidated biomarkers will only be considered in the context of a clear experimental, mechanistic connection to disease or other unique contribution to understanding of disease or clinical practice. A statement should be included in all biomarker papers describing how overfitting (training models on large numbers of variables measured on small numbers of subjects) and other forms of bias were avoided. We strongly recommend all papers reporting potential new biomarkers be evaluated by an independent statistician before submission.

Modeling studies

Computational models should be validated either experimentally or through a dataset independent of the training set. All assumptions should be clearly stated with sources provided in the references and notes section. The code/algorithm used for the study must be included as a file in the Supplementary Materials to allow replication of the results by interested readers.

Animal studies

For all animal experimentation described in the manuscript, Science requires that authors state in the Methods section their adherence to the [NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals]( http://oacu.od.nih.gov/regs/guide/guide.pdf), or the equivalent.

Genetically modified animals. To avoid confounding effects of inbred strain background, littermate controls should generally be used, although exceptions may be allowed. Justification for other control animals should be included. Authors should fully describe the source of their animals and number of times backcrosses were performed.

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Data Deposition

Science supports the efforts of databases that aggregate published data for the use of the scientific community. Therefore, before publication, large data sets (including microarray data, protein or DNA sequences, atomic coordinates or electron microscopy maps for macromolecular structures, and climate data) must be deposited in an approved database and an accession number or a specific access address must be included in the published paper. We encourage compliance with MIBBI guidelines (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations).

Details include, but are not limited to:

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PUBLICATION POLICIES

Data and Materials Availability after Publication

After publication, all data and materials necessary to understand, assess, and extend the conclusions of the manuscript must be available to any reader of Science. All computer codes involved in the creation or analysis of data must also be available to any reader of Science. After publication, all reasonable requests for data or materials must be fulfilled. Any restrictions on the availability of data, codes, or materials, including fees and restrictions on original data obtained from other sources must be disclosed to the editors as must any Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) pertaining to data or materials used or produced in this research, that place constraints on providing these data or materials. Patents (whether applications or awards to the authors or home institutions) related to the work should also be declared. Fossils or other rare specimens must be deposited in a public museum or repository and available for research. Unreasonable restrictions on data or material availability may preclude publication.

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Copyright and License to Publish

Science requires that, before manuscript acceptance, authors sign a license agreement granting AAAS exclusive rights to use and authorize use of their contribution. The authors retain copyright as well as rights to make certain uses of the work, which are described in detail in the information for authors that accompanies the form. Authors should read this information sheet before signing the agreement. (A separate form is used for authors of papers for which all coauthors are employees of the Australian, Canadian, and/or U.K. Government.)

In general, authors will complete the license form as a "click-through" during the process of uploading the revised manuscript after peer review. License to Publish: Information for Authors [PDF]

·       License to Publish: Form [PDF]

·       Publishing Agreement for Australian, Canadian, and U.K. Government Employees [PDF]

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Access Policies

Immediately after publication, authors may post the accepted version of the paper on the author's personal or institutional archival Web site. In addition, one author is provided a "referrer" link, which can be posted on a personal or institutional Web page and through which users can freely access the final, published paper on the Science  Web site.

For research papers created under grants for which the authors are required by their funding agencies to make their research results publicly available (for example, from NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, or Wellcome Trust), Science allows posting of the accepted version of research content (Research Articles and Reports) to the funding body's archive or designated repository (such as PubMed Central) no sooner than six months after publication, provided that a link to the final version of the paper published in Science is included. The accepted version is the version of the paper accepted for publication after changes resulting from peer review, but before editing by Science copyediting staff, image quality control, and production of the final PDF.

Authors from institutions that might limit the authors' ability to grant to AAAS any of the rights described in AAAS's license must obtain an approved waiver from their institution to publish with Science.

Original research papers are freely accessible with registration on Science’s Web site 12 months after publication.

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Processing Fees

Details on processing fees are provided at acceptance.

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Embargo Policy

Submitted and accepted papers must remain privileged documents and must not be released to the press or the public before publication. Questions should be referred to the AAAS Office of Public Programs (202-326-6440).

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Corrections, Expressions of Concern, and Retractions

Science is a member of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) and is committed to correcting errors in published papers. In cases where an institutional investigation of large-scale error or misconduct is under way, Science may publish an Editorial Expression of Concern relating to the paper in question. In cases of irreproducibility of research findings reported in a Science paper, a retraction may be considered if the core conclusions are thereby invalidated. Papers will also be retracted in case of research misconduct, in accord with COPE guidelines. Corrections to errors that do not affect the core conclusions of a paper are posted online and linked to the published paper.

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