This page explains how to prepare your article for submission to any of our journals, with the exception of Notes and Records and Biographical Memoirs.
Note that length restrictions, article types and other journal specific information are available on the ‘Author information’ page on each journal website.
The submitting author will be required to provide an Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) via the online submission system. The benefits of registering an ORCID are outlined here. Provision of ORCIDs by co-authors is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory.
Please carefully read our ethics and policies page before submitting. Please also review our licensing and open access conditions.
Unless you have opted for open peer review (available in some journals), the referee reports and other correspondence relating to your paper must remain confidential and should not be shared or made publicly available.
Editors of the following journals have the option to offer the author a transfer to another Royal Society journal.
Possible transfers are:
- Biology Letters (to Royal Society Open Science)
- Interface (to Royal Society Open Science)
- Open Biology (to Royal Society Open Science)
- Proceedings A (to Royal Society Open Science)
- Proceedings B (to Royal Society Open Science, Biology Letters, Open Biology or Interface)
Transfers may be offered when an article does not meet the scope requirement of the original journal. Editors' comments and reviewer reports on the article are transferred over and will be available to the editorial team of the receiving journal.
Transferring is a two-step process and should be completed as soon as possible by the author after receiving the offer to transfer – this offer expires after four weeks.
Formatting your article
In order to make manuscript submission as easy as possible for authors, we have introduced format-free initial submission for the majority of our journals, apart from Proceedings B and Biology Letters which requires a Word version upon initial submission to enable accurate length estimation.
At first submission, authors can submit their manuscript in any format; however, we do still encourage authors to read the manuscript preparation guidelines below and to consider how easy a manuscript is to read by reviewers and editors.
Where applicable, manuscripts must adhere to our guidelines regarding length (see each journal website).
Once an article has been accepted for publication the main manuscript must be submitted as an editable file, not a PDF, and the source files of any figures and tables must be provided. If you are submitting a LaTeX file please see our LaTeX guidelines below.
Submissions should include the following sections.
Your article title should be a short description of the research you are reporting. The best titles are written with both human readers and search engines in mind; including keywords in your title will help readers discover your article online. The title page should also contain full names and affiliations for each author.
The abstract should be no more than 200 words and should not contain references or unexplained abbreviations or acronyms. Your abstract should be concise and informative and should read well as a standalone piece. The general scope of the article as well as the main results and conclusions should be summarised. Please also ensure that your abstract contains all likely search terms, to assist indexers (e.g. PubMed) that scan only the title and abstract of articles. If possible, it is beneficial to have all your keywords written into the abstract.
Please include at least 3 and up to 6 keywords. Try to avoid overly broad or specialised terms that might be meaningless to a reader.
Think about the words you would use to search online for articles on the same topic; these often make the best keywords. They do not necessarily need to be single words; keywords can include short phrases or terms that are easily recognised by researchers in your field.
The main text of your article should be split into clearly-labelled sections. Usually these will be background, methods, results, discussion and conclusions, however please feel free to use whatever headings and subheadings best suit your article. Abbreviations should be written out in full on first use.
Methods section (if applicable)
The Methods section should be written as concisely as possible but should contain all elements necessary to allow interpretation and replication of the results. Please include full specific details of materials used, such as reagents, animal models or software. References to published methods or protocols (e.g. protocols.io) can also be provided. You are also encouraged to preregister your methods at a suitable repository (e.g. https://osf.io/prereg). You will also be required to provide a Data Availability statement; detailed guidance can be found below. Please additionally include the accession details in your methods sections where appropriate.
Please acknowledge anyone who contributed to the study but did not meet the authorship criteria.
Please state the sources of funding for each author. Including this information is a requirement of many funders. You will also be asked to enter this information during the submission process, but please ensure that you also include it in the manuscript.
We suggest the following format:
This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust [grant numbers xxxx, yyyy]; the Natural Environment Research Council [grant number zzzz]; and the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number aaaa].
All our journals use a system based on Vancouver style referencing. All references to the literature cited will be given in the order of their appearance in the text in a consecutively numbered list at the end of the article.
Whilst it will aid our production team if your final manuscript uses this format, it is not a requirement for submission. However please note that numbered references reduces your word count significantly and may be helpful for meeting page limits.
Please note that references to datasets must also be included in the reference list with DOIs where available. For example:
1. Torres-Campos I, Abram PK, Guerra-Grenier E, Boivin G, Brodeur J. 2016 Data from: A scenario for the evolution of selective egg colouration: the roles of enemy-free space, camouflage, thermoregulation, and pigment limitation. Dryad Digital Repository. (http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5qt2k)
Each reference should contain as many of the following elements as possible:
- Author surnames with initials (up to 10 before et al. is used)
- Year of publication
- Title of paper or book
- Journal name using standard abbreviation
- Volume number
- Book publisher and location
- First and last page numbers, or article number
- Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Use the DOI Citation Formatter to help you to format your citation.
EndNote style files are available for most of our journals. For Royal Society Open Science please use the Open Biology style file.
Figures and tables
All figures and tables should be numbered and referred to in the text by their number. Figure and table captions should be provided within the manuscript, and should be brief and informative, and include any relevant copyright information if taken from a published source.
At initial submission, figures can be provided within the manuscript or as separate files. On revision, figures should be uploaded as separate files. The following file formats are most suitable:
- Adobe Photoshop
- PowerPoint, Excel or Word if the figure was created using 1 of these packages
- Postscript (PS, EPS or PDF)
- Adobe Illustrator
TeX/LaTeX-coded figures should be converted to postscript format (PS, EPS or PDF).
Colour figures are welcomed. All figures will be published in colour online (the version of record), but will be reproduced in black and white in the print version of the journal by default. If you feel that print colour is essential for any of your figures, please list the relevant figure numbers on submission of your article. Please note that, because of the high cost of colour printing, the final decision on colour usage is made at the discretion of the Editor.
Authors are encouraged to consider the needs of colour-blind readers when choosing colours for figures. Many colour-blind readers cannot interpret visuals that rely on discrimination of green and red, for example. The use of colour-safe combinations, such as green and magenta, turquoise and red, yellow and blue or other accessible colour palettes is recommended.
Tables must be provided in an editable format at final submission.
Style and language
Royal Society journals only accept submissions in English. Spelling should be British English. Abbreviations should be used only when necessary and should be defined when they are first used. SI units should be used throughout.
Authors who believe their manuscripts would benefit from professional editing prior to submission are encouraged to use a language editing service.
AuthorAid hosts a variety of useful resources to help researchers prepare articles for publication.
Supplementary material can be used for supporting data sets, supporting movies, figures and tables, and any other supporting material. The main article, however, should stand on its own merit. The number of references included in the supplementary material should be kept to an absolute minimum as these are not recognised by many indexing services.
Note that supplementary materials are created by the authors themselves and are not edited by the Royal Society so please proof-read these thoroughly before submitting. If your supplementary file contains complex formatting or equations we would recommend that you submit it as a PDF file with fonts embedded to avoid compatibility problems for readers.
All supplementary material will be published under a CC-BY licence. For more information see our data sharing policies and our licence to publish.
Authors should submit supplementary materials as supporting files with their submission via ScholarOne Manuscripts, including titles and descriptions in the submission form. There is a size limit of 10MB for supplementary material (limit for total material, not per file), due to the difficulties that some users will experience in loading or downloading files. Authors with supplementary material files of a larger size (in particular, movies) should contact the relevant journal editorial office for further assistance.
All supplementary material accompanying an accepted article will be published alongside the paper on the journal website and posted on figshare, an online repository for research data. Files on figshare will be made available approximately one week before the accompanying article so that the supplementary material can be attributed a unique DOI. Online supplementary material will carry the title and description provided during the submission process, so please ensure these are accurate and informative. An example, showing the title and description as provided during the submission process, is available here.
Data, code and materials
Please read our data sharing policies carefully before submission. It is a condition of publication that authors make the primary data, materials (such as statistical tools, protocols, software) and code publicly available. As a minimum, sufficient information should be deposited so that published research is fully reproducible, and enough primary data provided so that the results reported can be verified.
Editors and reviewers will be asked to report on the availability of relevant data and materials, so these must be available at the initial submission stage, either as supplementary material or hosted in an external repository with a link included in the manuscript. If you are unable to do this (e.g. if your chosen repository only allows upload after manuscript submission) please contact the Editorial Office to discuss alternative options. Material may be submitted as supplementary files for the review stage, then moved to an external repository during revision, but this must be finalised before resubmission as changes cannot be made after acceptance.
End section statements
As part of the submission process, you will be required to provide statements on the following, which are essential for rapid assessment. You are no longer required to add these statements in the manuscript itself - these statements will be automatically added to the paper if accepted for publication. Please have these statements ready when you submit your manuscript.
Research on humans or human tissues will require a statement detailing ethical approval (including the name of the research body that granted approval and the project/licence number). Please also detail whether informed consent was obtained and by whom. If your study uses animals please include details of the ethical approval received, including the name of the committee that granted approval and number of the licence/approval received. Relevant fieldwork details (approvals, licences, permissions) should also be listed here. For studies requiring the removal of, for instance, fossil specimens, please also include details of the approvals sought to carry out extraction. The details of any museum and/or fossil specimens used (e.g. the specimen numbers and the institutions holding these) must be provided either in the manuscript or the supplementary files. For more information about preparing this section please visit our ethics and policies page.
Data, code and materials
All papers that report primary data will require a section that states where the article's supporting data, materials and code can be accessed.
If these have been deposited in an external repository this section should list the database, accession number and any other relevant details. Datasets included here must also be listed in the reference section. Citing datasets and code ensure effective and robust dissemination and appropriate credit to authors.
- DNA sequences: Genbank accessions F234391-F234402 [REF#]
- Phylogenetic data, including alignments: TreeBASE accession number S9123 [REF#]
- Climate data and MaxEnt input files: Dryad doi:10.5521/dryad.12311 [REF#]
If supporting data, materials or code have been included in the article’s supplementary material, this should be stated here, for example:
The datasets supporting this article have been uploaded as part of the supplementary material.
Please provide a statement if you have any competing interests to declare. Competing interests are defined as those that, through their potential influence on behaviour or content or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of publication. Please see the Competing Interests section of our Openness policy for more information.
If you are unsure whether you have a competing interest please contact the relevant journal editorial office for advice.
All submissions, other than those with a single author, will require an Authors’ Contributions section which individually lists the specific contribution of each author. The list of authors should meet the criteria provided on our policy page. All contributors who do not meet all of these criteria should be included in the acknowledgements section.
We suggest the following format:
AB carried out the molecular lab work, participated in data analysis, carried out sequence alignments, participated in the design of the study and drafted the manuscript; CD carried out the statistical analyses and critically revised the manuscript; EF collected field data and critically revised the manuscript; GH conceived of the study, designed the study, coordinated the study and helped draft the manuscript. All authors gave final approval for publication and agree to be held accountable for the work performed therein.
Licence to publish and open access
Royal Society Open Science and Open Biology are fully open access journals and all articles in these journals are published under a CC-BY licence. All our other journals offer an open access option. Find out more about our open access options here.
All authors are required to grant us a licence to publish. Please read this carefully before submission.
Open access papers are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY) licence. This allows anybody to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt, even for commercial purposes, under the condition that the user must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse the user or their use of the work). Users do not need to notify the authors or the publisher about using the material.
Figures from other sources should be fully acknowledged in the caption, and written permission sought for both print and electronic reproduction before being used.
If publishing an open access paper, the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence will cover all components of the paper, so any third party material used (e.g. figures) will also fall under this usage agreement. Permission must be obtained to use any material in this way, and copyright holders must be aware of the terms. This may affect how the same material can be used in other situations. If material cannot be included under the CC-BY licence then this must be identified within the text, e.g. by adding copyright information to the figure caption, or material must be identified to the Royal Society production team so that the relevant information can be added to the general copyright line for the paper. For more information please see Creative Commons guidance.
Please ensure that you submit a PDF as your main document. At final revision you will also be required to provide the source files.
- TeX files submitted must be generated using pdfTeX Version 3.1415926-2.4-1.40.13, TeXLive 2012 or earlier versions.
- All files that are needed to compile the TeX source correctly must be uploaded with the submission.
- Please do not send master TeX files containing file call-ups (except to figures and references); the TeX file must be complete with all article sections.
- Figures must be supplied as gif, jpg, png, ps, eps or pdf files, and should be a single flattened layer.
- Type 3 fonts are not accepted. Vector fonts (such as Type1, truetype, opentype etc.) are preferred.
- Guidelines for document and image conversions in ScholarOne Manuscripts can be found in the Get Help Now section.
When you are submitting your final files for publication you will be prompted to submit a media summary. This should be no more than 100 words and aim to outline, to a lay audience, your research and any relevant findings.
If possible try to highlight why the research is important, i.e. does your research discover something new? Does it change perceptions or previous understanding? Try to link your research with examples or analogies as this enables journalists to understand and relate to your work. Please avoid using excessive jargon or statistics, unless absolutely necessary.
It is important to ensure that your user details are up to date (institution, email and telephone number). This information will be provided to journalists wishing to promote your paper, so please ensure it is updated while uploading your revisions. If you have any questions, please contact the Royal Society press office.
You are welcome to submit a potential cover image for use on the journal website and on our press site for media promotion of your article. Please ensure you obtain all relevant copyright permissions before submitting the image to us. You can upload any potential images as a 'Cover Image' when submitting your revised files.
Post acceptance information
Since all our journals aim to publish as rapidly as possible after acceptance, only a few days may be available for checking proofs. Authors who may be absent from their normal address should either inform the relevant journal of their intended whereabouts or make alternative arrangements for their proofs to be checked quickly. Major alterations to content cannot be made at this stage.
One set of page proofs is sent to the corresponding author, showing the final layout of the article as it will appear in the printed journal. Proofs should be read carefully for typesetter's errors and the accuracy of tables, references, mathematical expressions, etc. Publication of an article will be delayed if proofs are not returned by the given deadline.
On publication, we will provide you with a link providing free access to your paper. You may forward the email to your co-authors or colleagues in order for them to access the paper, however please note that these electronic reprints may NOT be used for commercial purposes or posted on openly accessible websites, unless published under a CC-BY licence. All reprints are subject to our terms and conditions.
Copies of the printed issue can be purchased on request. For further details contact our sales team.
The Society's press office promotes articles that appear in our scientific journals through weekly lists of media summaries to journalists. Please note that, like many publishers, the Royal Society employs a strict embargo policy whereby the reporting of a scientific article by the media is embargoed until a specific time. If you are approached by a journalist prior to publication, please contact the Society's press office.
It is a good idea to alert your institution's press office to the fact you are having an article published. Given enough advance warning, they may want to produce a press release to coincide with the weekly list from the Society's press office.
Closer to the time of publication, the Society's press office will contact you to confirm the online publication date for your paper, to provide additional information on the Society's embargo policy and to give you advance warning of when you may expect to be contacted by journalists.
After publication, we encourage you to share your work on social media and across your professional networks.
How to submit a paper or proposal