This page explains how to prepare your article for submission to any of our journals, with the exception of Biographical Memoirs.
Note that length restrictions, article types and other journal specific information are available on the ‘Author information’ page on each journal website.
From 1 January 2016, it is a condition of publication for the submitting author 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 publically available.
Formatting your article
For most journals, initial manuscripts can be submitted in all standard file types, including Microsoft Word, LaTeX and PDF. Once an article has been accepted for publication the main manuscript should be submitted as an editable file, not a PDF.
Please note that Biology Letters does not accept PDF for initial manuscripts.
If you are submitting a LaTeX file please see our LaTeX guidelines below.
Submissions should be divided into 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. Puns should be avoided.
The title page should also contain full names and affiliations for each author as well as the email address of the corresponding 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 (eg PubMed) which 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.
Research on humans must include a statement detailing ethical approval and informed consent where applicable. Research using animals must adhere to local guidelines and state that appropriate ethical approval and licences were obtained. If you are unsure whether you need to include an ethics section please visit our ethics and policies page.
Data, code and materials
Please read our data sharing policies carefully before submission.
All papers which report primary data (usually research articles) must include a section which states where the article's supporting data, materials (such as statistical tools, protocols, software) and code can be accessed. 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.
If your supporting data, materials or code 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.
All manuscripts must include a competing interests section. If you have no competing interests please state ‘I/We have no competing interests’.
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, must include 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; EF collected field data; GH conceived of the study, designed the study, coordinated the study and helped draft the manuscript. All authors gave final approval for publication.
Please acknowledge anyone who contributed to the study but did not meet the authorship criteria.
Please list the source of funding for each author.
All our journals use a system based on Vancouver style referencing. All references to the literature cited should be given in the order of their appearance in the text in a consecutively numbered list at the end of the article.
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.
Figure and table captions
Table and figure captions should be included at the end of the manuscript file and should be brief and informative.
Figures and tables
All figures and tables should be numbered and referred to in the text by their number.
Figures should be uploaded as separate files and should include labels which are referred to in the captions. The following file formats are accepted:
- 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.
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 (eg 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, eg 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.
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. In addition, 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.
All supplementary material will be published under a CC-BY licence. For more information see our data sharing policies and our licence to publish.
We can only consider supplementary material provided in one of the following file formats:
AIF, AVI, CEL, CLASS, CSS, CSV, DOC, DOCM, DOCX, DOTM, DOTX, DTL, DVI, EPS, FAS, GIF, GZ, HTM, HTML, HTSLP, JAR, JAVA, JPEG, JPG, JS, M, M4A, MML, MOV, MP3, MP4, MPG, MPGA, NB, NET, NEX, ODE, ONEPKG, ONETMP, ONETOC, PBM, PDB, PDF, PGM, PNG, POTM, POTX, PPAM, PPM, PPSM, PPSX, PPT, PPTM, PPTX, PS, PSD, RA, RM, RTF, RV, SHTML, SLDM, SLDX, SPT, SVG, SWF, TAR, TEX, TGZ, THMX, TIF, TSV, TXT, VMD, WAV, WMA, WMV, XLAM, XLS, XLSB, XLSM, XLSX, XLTM, XLTX, XML, XSL, XYZ.
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.
- TeX files submitted must be compatible with LaTeX2e. ScholarOne Manuscripts supports version 7.4.5 and earlier.
- 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.
- When submitting papers in TeX, all figures (including vector and raster/image based figures, and figures created from TeX code) must also be supplied as PS or EPS files (PDF, JPEG, GIF or TIFs will not be converted).
- 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.
- Continuous line numbering should be included, for example, using the package line no.
- See this list of all sty/cls files accepted by ScholarOne Manuscripts.
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 polishing service.
AuthorAid hosts a variety of useful resources to help researchers prepare articles for publication.
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.
Post acceptance information
The main manuscript should be submitted as an editable file, not a PDF, once it has been accepted for publication.
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 editorial office 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.
As a thank you for your contribution, we will provide you with free electronic reprints to distribute as you wish. These reprints will be available via a confirmation email after online publication as PDF downloads.
Copies of the printed issue can be purchased on request. For further details contact our sales team.
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.
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, ie 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.
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. You will also have the option to sign up to Kudos to help grow and track coverage of your article.
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.
How to submit a paper or proposal