Launch: Nature Precedings

Matt Jankowski

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Nature Precedings - a preprint server operated by Nature Publishing Group. thoughtbot has been involved as a product development partner since precedings was still in the concept stage. It’s been great to work with Timo, Nicole, Hilary, Tom and everyone else at Nature who are genuinely passionate about what they do and about wanting this project to succeed where past services have not. From the Precedings about page:


Nature Precedings is a place for researchers to share documents, including presentations, posters, white papers, technical papers, supplementary findings, and manuscripts. It provides a rapid way to disseminate emerging results and new theories, solicit opinions, and record the provenance of ideas. It also makes such material easy to archive, share and cite. The whole service is free of charge.

After having worked on the first two iterations of Nature Network, working on precedings has been interesting and has allowed us to learn a lot more about scientific publishing and what the roles of researchers and publishers are in the scientific process. For a project that seems pretty straightforward (you submit your manuscripts and some editors approve them), there’s actually some cool stuff going on from a technical perspective…

  • DOIs from Crossref - this is like tinyurl for the publishing world, sorta
  • A legacy email subscription management API which integrates with user email preferences
  • A legacy authentication API to enable central identity with for all precedings users
  • Integration with manuscript submission tools that are already part of the journal publishing workflow, to grease the wheels for people who want to get stuff into the system quickly
  • Behind the scenes PPT/DOC to PDF conversion, using a daemonized OpenOffice process.

Future plans include an expanded submission API, mirroring submitted content to NPGs publishing partners, and more. Not only is it exciting to launch, but it’s exciting to have a launch that gets people talking…

Launch announcement on Nascent

Right from the beginning, Precedings was conceived not as an NPG-only project but as a collaborative endeavour to open up scientific communication. To that end, we’ll also be reaching out to other publishers in the weeks to come to ensure that this initiative works effectively alongside the existing journal publishing channel, which Precedings seeks to complement.

O'Reilly Radar

They are consistently the boldest and most innovative of publishers—and it’s so rare to see a market leader with Nature’s unparalleled reputation taking such risks. It’s truly inspiring.

David Weinberger

This is very cool. From CC to DOI, it hits all the right notes. Even the name is good. And because Nature is one of the most important research journals around, this is a big deal.

Slashdot: Faster and Open Access to Scientific Results

In Nature Precedings, all content is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License, and can be commented and voted on. The service will cover research in biology, chemistry, and earth science, much like does for physics, mathematics, and computer science.