Water is at the heart of society. It has always been that way. At the origin of civilization, people settled around rivers and lakes so that they would have access to water for the activities that would allow them to flourish, from irrigation to transport. Throughout history, the relation between water and society has evolved primarily thanks to scientific and technological progress that has improved access to high quality water for drinking and for sanitation, as well as to the treatment of wastewater to prevent damages to the environment and the spreading of pathogens and pollutants.
Modern society faces enormous challenges to maintain access to water. Despite all the progress, roughly 10 % of the world population has no access to clean water. Global warming and other climate change effects threaten both the quantity and quality of available freshwater. Increasing population poses more stress on water resources and generates more pollution with potentially devastating consequences for the environment.
Facing these challenges will require a complex system of concurrent actions. These will include improvements in traditional water treatment systems but also a shift towards more local water treatment stations, the use of artificial intelligence for the analysis of big data on water quality and pollution and the optimization of resources, increased awareness and education.
Perhaps most importantly, it is becoming clearer that achieving a sustainable use of water resources will require the integrated contribution of natural science with technology and social sciences. Nature Water, a new journal that will start publishing in 2023, aims to be a venue to host the most significant results on all aspects of this evolving relationship between water and society.
A thematic approach to water research
Nature Water is a Nature journal and like any Nature journal, it will aim at publishing results that are likely to have impact. For us editors, to have impact a paper on water can either offer significant scientific insight, provide progress towards the solution of technological challenges, or have the potential to influence policy.
Essentially, we see the journal as a venue for all research aimed at improving and optimizing the relationship between water resources and society. As such we believe it makes sense to group Nature Water papers in broad thematic areas rather than disciplines. These areas are illustrated below - with the disclaimer that when we define a scope we incur in the risk excluding topics that may be relevant, hence the “etc.” appearing quite a bit.
There is nothing better than an actual example to illustrate a concept. Of course we cannot show you any Nature Water paper until at least January 2023, when we start publishing. Luckily a number of our sister journals within the Nature Portfolio have published articles that we can use to illustrate at least some of the topics that we want to publish. We have gathered these papers here and we invite you to browse through this collection. We must emphasise the “at least some” from the previous sentence however, because there are topics that are barely covered within the Nature Portfolio at this stage and that Nature Water will follow with interest. Some examples are pollution remediation technology that we consider an integral part of the scope of the journal, or wastewater epidemiology, which is a rapidly emerging field, undoubtedly fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One size (or almost) fits all
We have decided to consider a single format for each research manuscript. Articles should be maximum 3000 words long, include up to 8 display items and up to 50 references. The only exception is represented by those manuscripts that report a new analysis of existing data, describe new data obtained in a comparative analysis or introduce a new simulation or model that leads to novel and arresting conclusions of importance to a broad audience. An Analysis has a similar format to an article, though we can allow up to 4000 words of text length. You can find more details about the article and analysis formats here.
You should keep in mind that while we will eventually request that accepted articles are formatted according to our specific guidelines, at the first stage of the editorial process we are only interested in establishing if the results are significant enough for a manuscript to be considered further. As long as the editors and reviewers can understand the content, the specific format does not matter (within reason), so feel free to submit a complete but not necessarily formatted version of your manuscript. If you are really uncertain you can even submit a description of the results with the main figures, or a full but unformatted manuscript, as a presubmission enquiry before completing the version that you want reviewers to see.
Either way, we are open for submissions so follow the link and submit!
Stay tuned, more will come
Here we have focussed on the primary research papers. Should you want to know more, you can get in touch with the editors to request an online meeting through this form.
Nature Water will also engage academics and practitioners in the water sector with reviews, perspectives and opinion articles. We shall explain more about those in the near future and we shall also explore how the journal will approach open science, diversity, equity and inclusion and other publication-relevant topics.